— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Covenant, Plus a Significant Statement on Branchhood As presented in a Tablet to Mary Lesch on July 22, 1912 (article by Frank Schlatter)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Covenant,
Plus a Significant Statement on Branchhood

As presented in a Tablet to Mary Lesch on July 22, 1912

        One of the very important Tablets written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and devoted to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh is dated July 22,1919, and addressed to Mary Lesch. A copy of the document can be found in the Star of the West, Vol. 10, Number 14, pages 268-270, but it is being reproduced in its entirety here. [NOTE: Where the original text employed lower case letters for the pronouns related to the Manifestation, they have been changed to capitals. -FDS]

With the modifications identified in the note, the Tablet reads as follows:

To the maid-servant of God, Miss Mary Lesch, Chicago, Illinois – Upon her be Bahá’u’lláh EI-Abha!

He is God!

“O thou maid-servant of God!”

Thy letter was received and its contents indicated firmness in the Covenant. Therefore, the hope is entertained that thou wilt be assisted under all conditions, for today that which is most important is firmness in the Covenant and the Testament and otherwise Bahá’í unity will not be preserved. If Bahá’í unity could be preserved through something else, undoubtedly the Blessed Beauty would have commanded it.

In accordance with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, which is the supreme authority and the Kitáb-i-Ahd which is the last book of the Blessed Beauty written by His supreme pen, all are addressed in a clear and explicit manner.

First He addresses the Aghsáns, then the Afnáns and the relatives and finally the rest of the friends and bids them to turn their faces toward the Center of the Covenant. And the verses which have been revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ordering all to turn after His Ascension to “Him who is branched from the Pre-Existent Root” are explicitly recorded in the Kitáb-i-Ahd as having for their object the Center of the Covenant. And in another special Tablet the authenticity of which is admitted by every one, it is recorded that if the center of violation whose proper name He mentions, deviates the least from the shadow of the Cause, he at once loses the station of Branchhood. How could it be more explicit? Now it must be either said that the Blessed Beauty has done wrong and has led the people to error for He ordered them to obey a person who ought not to have been obeyed, or on the other hand it must be said that the least deviation from the Covenant and the Testament entails deprivation from the bounties of the Luminary of the world. One of the two alternatives must be true and there is no third one to it.

In fine, Bahá’í unity cannot be preserved save through the Covenant of God. Today the stirring power in the body of the world is the Covenant, and if this Covenant is made ineffective, what power will be able to stir it? The statement which was made orally by His Holiness Christ to Peter–that “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”–this declaration preserved for a thousand years Christian unity. After the lapse of a thousand years, due to political questions, dissensions happened. Now, if this Word of Christ has preserved the unity of Christendom for a thousand years, consider what will be done by the Kitáb-i-Ahd which has been revealed by the Supreme Pen. But superficial, restless souls, who at first were firm in the Covenant and have written epistles with reference to their firmness and detachment from violators and have considered them as outcasts from the Threshold of the Almighty–and these epistles are still extant–these persons like unto Judas Iscariot, have for personal interests and financial motives, deviated from the Covenant. They followed the people of craft and stained their hands with the blood of Christ. Be admonished, 0 ye who possess intelligence!

If at all thou art firm and steadfast in the Covenant, strengthen and fortify thy relationships with the Convention [sic] [Covenant], and from whomsoever thou inhalest the odor of violation, avoid his company and keep aloof, that thou mayest remain safe and protected under the protection of the Covenant, and, like unto a candle, be ignited with the light of steadfastness.

I am kind to all people and do not attack anyone. I pray on behalf of all that all may gather under His divine protection. This Covenant and Testament have been entered into by the Blessed Beauty and I have not taken any such part. Let them answer Him and I have no objection. My duty is to be kind to everyone; vengeance is reserved for the Blessed Beauty and not for myself. As I am kind to everyone, I mention only the good characteristics of a person and if a word is written, the intention is the setting forth of truth and the preservation of the religion of God, so that Bahá’í i unity may be preserved. If any persons desire to upset this unity, they are free and let them present their answers to the Blessed Beauty in the Abhá Kingdom, should He address them as follows:

‘0 ye, my friends! Have I, through My Supreme Pen and the explicit verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas commanded obedience or disobedience? Have I not ordered the center of violation to obey and to turn his face (towards Him)? Why have ye turned away from My manifest and irrefutable Center? I have given the command to turn your faces toward Him, how have ye turned away? Why have ye upset Bahá’í unity?’

What will they answer?

The friends must be very attentive and then whatever they deem advisable, they may perform. I have nothing to impose. In America, no doubt whatever call is proclaimed, ambitious and thoughtless souls will be found to support it for a time. Even at Green Acre it has been remarked that one of the inhabitants of Malta was summoning men to excessive hunger (fasting) and used to receive pay for it. Notwithstanding this, some souls gathered around him and from hunger they seemed dead yet would pay to that man.

Do not grieve for thy dear brother who has ascended from this mortal world to the eternal realm and do not feel depressed. That drop has hastened to the limitless ocean and that wandering bird has flown to the shelter and next of the Supreme Concourse. Thou shalt find him at the effulgent gathering in the Kingdom of Mysteries.

As to the dream thou didst have that thy brother appeared fully dressed, clothing is the ornament of man and that is the bounty of the Merciful. As to the bundle he had in hand, it is his benevolent deeds, and his serious look denoted his purpose to make thee realize the following fact: ‘consider to what bounty I have attained! Praise be to God, that I am safe and well and have on me the garment of piety and carry in my hand the bundle of my deeds. I am alive and not dead. Consider closely, I am living and have not passed away. Be thou attentive.’

Upon thee be Bahá-El-Abhá!

(Signed) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbas

(Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, Acca, Palestine, July 22,1919.)

************

A few brief observations:

First, the third Guardian in his article “Irrefutable Evidence that Shoghi Effendi, the First Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, Appointed a Successor” has commented on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s statement regarding the station of Branchhood, noting that Branchhood “is a spiritual station attained through fidelity to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and conversely, even when once attained, is lost upon ‘the least deviation from the Covenant.”

Second, I think it is instructive that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá points out the importance of firmness in the Covenant for Bahá’í unity to be preserved. So an understanding of what is meant by “firmness in the Covenant” is essential.

Third, I think it is also important to note that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá identifies “superficial, restless souls, who at first were firm in the Covenant and have written epistles with reference to their firmness and detachment from violators and have considered them as outcasts from the Threshold of the Almighty–and these epistles are still extant–these persons like unto Judas Iscariot, have for personal interests and financial motives, deviated from the Covenant.

What I find interesting about this statement is that Mason Remey has been accused by sans-Guardian believers of being ego-driven or, as Taherzadeh labeled him on page 386 of The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh ,”an ambitious individual.” Yet who was it between 1957-1963 that assumed that they could serve as a collective Guardian of the Cause and could therefore deviate from the Covenant that had been established and start one of their own–a Hands-made covenant that essentially said that if you disagreed with the Hands of the Faith you were deemed a Covenant-breaker? It was, of course, 26 of the 27 Hands of the Faith. Their deviation from the Covenant has subsequently been sanctioned by the headless Universal House of Justice. And now, contrary to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that body — the sans-Guardian UHJ — is looked upon by its followers as the “Center of the Cause” or as the “present-day Head of the Faith.”

Truly, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote to Mary Lesch: “In fine, Bahá’í unity cannot be preserved save through the Covenant of God.

Or is it indeed a matter, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá suggested for an erroneous conclusion, “that the Blessed Beauty has done wrong and has led the people to error for He ordered them to obey a person who ought not to have been obeyed“? Or is it, (again as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said): “that the least deviation from the Covenant and the Testament entails deprivation from the bounties of the Luminary of the world“? The Master says in the Lesch Tablet: “One of the two alternatives must be true and there is no third one to it.

The Covenant calls for A PERSON to be the interpreter who will prevent schism. The sans-Guardian organization in Haifa is now without such a person. Therefore, isn’t that organization now deviating from the Covenant? Orthodox Bahá’ís would say that it is.

——Frank Schlatter

— THE COVENANT From Bahá‘u’lláh to The Year 2000

THE COVENANT

From Bahá’u’lláh

to

The Year 2000

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PREFACE

Bahá’ís the world over take great satisfaction in the fact that Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God for this day, provided them with a Covenant that, according to Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian and “Center of the Cause” from 1921 to 1957, “can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation.”

Any number of Bahá’ís have attempted to explain the Covenant and have provided their respective views on this “most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh,” as identified by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Son of the Manifestation and the Center of His Covenant.

Prior to the disclosure of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament, which perpetuated the Bahá’í Covenant, Mírzá Ab’ul-Fadl wrote: “To the people of faith, the clear appointment of the Center of the Cause, after the Departure of the Manifestation is considered the most important point in religious matters, as it is the greatest channel which connects the servants of God with holy divine Truth.”

Mírzá Ali Kuli Khan spoke of Bahá’u’lláh’s having written “His blessed book of His Covenant with His own hand and sealed it with his own seal, in which book He entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, including His own household and ‘branches,’ that after His ascension they should unanimously bear allegiance to and obey His eldest son, the Greatest Branch, the Mystery of God, the Center of the Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.”

J.E. Esslemont referred to the exemplification of the “spiritual or Providential character of the Faith” first in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and then “in the continuance, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, of the office of interpreter of the Sacred Writings in the person of the successive Guardians provided in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Testament. The Faith, therefore, throughout its era will never suffer the disintegrating influence of schisms resulting from differences of interpretation.”

More recently, John Ferraby wrote: “this Covenant is about a Successor, the paramount obligation is to turn towards that Successor, an obligation Bahá’u’lláh refers to in…the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.” Ferraby also stated that “‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in His turn, arranged that the Cause would still have a visible Centre after His passing, by providing for a succession of Guardians of the Cause of God to follow Him. He Himself was and still is the spiritual Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, but on earth ‘all must seek guidance and turn unto the Centre of the Cause.'”

With regard to the Covenant, Rúhíyyih Khánum, wife of the first Guardian, wrote: “The principle of successorship, endowed with the right of Divine interpretation, is the very hub of the Cause into which its Doctrines and Laws fit like the spokes of a wheel – tear out the hub and you have to throw away the whole thing.”

Thus, there is no question that over the years the Bahá’ís have looked upon the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh as an integral aspect of their Faith. However, it has been observed since the passing of Shoghi Effendi that conflicting views have been expressed on the meaning and significance of the Covenant. Therefore a compilation that shows the relationship of the Bahá’í leadership to that Covenant has been deemed an important endeavor and, accordingly, it is provided here.

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Bahá’u’lláh and His Covenant With the Believers in His Cause

[Ed Note: At the end of page five and on page six of his commentary on the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Joel B. Marangella, the third Guardian, has provided a short selection of extracts gleaned from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh that “disclose the unique and wondrous Station of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”–the Center of His Covenant. That section of his commentary would appear to be a most appropriate beginning for this compilation dealing with the Bahá’í Covenant, so it is given here.]

In the Kitáb-i’Aqdas Bahá’u’lláh proclaims: “When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.

In the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch) the following verses are recorded: “There hath branched from the Sadratu’l-Muntahá [a reference to the Manifestation of God] this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness; well is it with him that hath sought His shelter and abideth beneath His shadow. Verily the Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root which God hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will, and Whose Branch hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation.”

Render thanks unto God, O people, for His appearance; for verily He is the most great Favor unto you, the most perfect bounty upon you; and through Him every mouldering bone is quickened. Whoso turneth towards Him hath turned towards God, and whoso turneth away from Him hath turned away from My Beauty, hath repudiated My Proof and transgressed against Me.

They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish.

In another Tablet Bahá’u’lláh addresses ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the following Words: “We have made Thee a shelter for all mankind;” and in yet another Tablet: “a shield unto all who are in heaven and on earth….

In a letter addressed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by Bahá’u’lláh, when the former was visiting Beirut, He referred to Him as “the Most Mighty Branch of God – His ancient and immutable Mystery.^ (“Commentary on the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, Herald of the Covenant, published by the Orthodox Bahá’ís of Australia, January 1985)

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Statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the Covenant

and His Continuation Of Bahá’u’lláh’s Divine Purpose

“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.” (“Tablets of the Divine Plan”, p. 51–Unveiled in April 1919)

“In accordance with the explicit text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá’u’lláh hath made the Center of the Covenant the Interpreter of His Word – a Covenant so firm and mighty that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.” (The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 136–First printing in 1938)

“According to the clear text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and other tablets, the Center of the Covenant is the remover of all difficulties, for he is the interpreter of the Book. Not one soul has the right to say one word of his own account, or to explain anything or to elucidate the text of the Book, whether in public or private…” (“Star of the West”, Vol. VIII, p. 223; also: “The Covenant and Administration”, printed 1951, p. 16) (Ed. Note: It should be apparent that the prevention of differences, according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, will occur when everyone turns to the Center, the interpreter of the Writings.)

“Today, the most important affair is firmness in the Covenant, because firmness in the Covenant wards off differences.”
(The Covenant, p. 116; See also: Star of the West, Vol. XII, p. 227 or Herald of the Covenant, Issue #4, p. 14)

“…Bahá’u’lláh covenanted, not that I (Abdu’l-Bahá) am the Promised One, but that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the Expounder of the Book and the Centre of His Covenant, and that the Promised One of Bahá’u’lláh will appear after one thousand or thousands of years. This is the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh made.” (The Covenant, p. 116; See also: Star of the West, Vol. XII, p. 228 or “Herald of the Covenant“, Issue #3, p. 14)

“No power can eliminate misunderstandings except that of the Covenant. The power of the Covenant is all-embracing, and resolveth all difficulties, for the Pen of Glory hath explicitly declared that whatever misunderstanding may arise should be referred to the Centre of the Covenant….” (The Covenant, p. 128)

“Misunderstanding cannot be eliminated by any power save that of the Covenant…All previous Books are subordinate to the Book of the Covenant…Consider…if the friends remain firm in the Covenant, will there be any misunderstanding among them? No, by God!” (Star of the West, Vol. X, pp. 235-6; Also: Herald of the Covenant, Issue #4, pp. 15-16)

“Bahá’u’lláh desired that there should not be any ground or reason for disagreement among the Bahá’ís. Therefore, with His own pen He wrote the Book of His Covenant, addressing His relations and all people of the world’. “He [Bahá’u’lláh] has fully expounded the function and potency of that Personage [referred to in the Book of His Covenant], so that no one shall say, “I understand this from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh,” for He has appointed the Center, or Expounder, of the Book’..It is as though a king should appoint a governor-general. Whosoever obeys him, obeys the king. Whosoever violates and disobeys him, violates the king. Therefore, whosoever obeys the Center of the Covenant appointed by Bahá’u’lláh has obeyed Bahá’u’lláh, and whosoever disobeys Him has disobeyed Bahá’u’lláh.” (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 323) [Ed. Note: Your attention is directed to the word “Personage”–one individual vested with the power to prevent disagreement.]

“To ward off ‘dissensions’and prevent any person from creating a division or sect the Blessed Perfection, Bahá’u’lláh, appointed a central authoritative Personage, declaring Him to be the expounder of the Book.”
(Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 382)

“‘We are commanded to turn to one Center. We do not obey various centers.'” (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 385)

“Bahá’u’lláh has written a Covenant and Testament with His own pen, declaring that the One Whom He has appointed the Center of the Covenant shall be turned to and obeyed by all.” (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p.386)

“As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past: It is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief. To ensure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, including the interpreter and explainer of His teachings, so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine Words. The Book of the Covenant or Testament of Bahá’u’lláh is the means of preventing such a possibility'” (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 455)

“‘if on some point or other a difference ariseth among two conflicting groups, let them refer to the Centre of the Covenant for a solution to the problem.” (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 204)

“The purpose of the Blessed Beauty in entering into this Covenant and Testament was to gather all existent beings around one point so that the thoughtless souls, who in every cycle and generation have been the cause of dissension, may not undermine the Cause.” (Selections …`Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 219)

“Praise be to God, all such doors [of dissension] are closed in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh for a special authoritative Centre hath been appointed – a Centre that solveth all difficulties and wardeth off all differences. ” (Selections ..`Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 225)

“It is incumbent upon the guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing.” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 12 of 1944 edition)

“The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command…. “This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God. He must continually urge them…” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 12-13, 1944 edition)

“…the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahá.” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 12, 1944 edition)
[Ed. Note: The only violation within the Faith that the Hands of the Cause are empowered by the Will to act upon has to do with those who oppose and protest against the Guardian.]

“It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him.” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 11, 1944 edition)

“He is the expounder of the words of God…” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 11, 1944 edition)>

“By this body [the Universal House of Justice] all things must be referred. It enacted all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body.” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 14, 1944 edition)

“Should he [the guardian] not attend in person its [the Universal House of Justice’s] deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him. Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead. This House of Justice enacted the laws…” (The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 14, 1944 edition)
[Ed. Note: It should be clear from the two preceding quotations that it is essential for the Guardian of the Cause to be the head of the Universal House of Justice, that a body which calls itself the Universal House of Justice but which is minus the Guardian is not in compliance with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Document that the first Guardian called the “Charter of the New World Order”.]

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STATEMENTS MADE BY SHOGHI EFFENDI

ON THE COVENANT

AND ‘ABDU’L-BAHá’S WILL

AND THE RELATION OF THAT WILL

TO THE FIRST GUARDIAN’S ACTIONS

“As regards the meaning of the Bahá’í Covenant: The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause. First is the Covenant that every Prophet makes with humanity or, more definitely, with His people that they will accept and follow the coming Manifestation who will be the reappearance of His reality. The second form of Covenant is such as the one Bahá’u’lláh made with His people that they should accept the Master [‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation. Under the same category falls the Covenant the Master made with the Bahá’ís that they should accept His administration after Him.” (Directives of the Guardian, #43)

“To direct and canalize these forces let loose by this Heaven-sent process [initiated by the Báb and consummated by the laws and ordinances of Bahá’u’lláh], and to insure their harmonious and continuous operation after His ascension, an instrument divinely ordained, invested with indisputable authority, organically linked with the Author of the Revelation Himself, was clearly indispensable. That instrument Bahá’u’lláh had expressly provided through the institution of the Covenant…”
(God Passes By, p. 238)

“…nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world’s religious systems…do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh had Himself instituted.”
(God Passes By, p. 238)

“…this Covenant has been bequeathed to posterity in a Will and Testament which, together with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and several Tablets, in which the rank and station of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are unequivocally disclosed, constitute the chief buttresses designed by the Lord of the Covenant Himself to shield and support, after His ascension, the appointed Center of His Faith and the Delineator of its future institutions.” (God Passes By, p. 239)

“He [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] had been made the successor of the Manifestation of God Himself–a position that was to empower Him to impart an extraordinary impetus to the international expansion of His Father’s Faith, to amplify its doctrine, to beat down every barrier that would obstruct its march, and to call into being, and delineate the features of, its Administrative Order, the Child of the Covenant, and the Harbinger of that World Order whose establishment must needs signalize the advent of the Golden Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation.” (God Passes By, p. 243)

“…the Covenant that was to perpetuate the influence of that Faith [of Bahá’u’lláh], insure its integrity, safeguard it from schism, and stimulate its world-wide expansion, had been fixed on an inviolable basis [by Bahá’u’lláh].”
(God Passes By, pp. 244-245)

“The continuity of that unerring guidance vouchsafed to it since its [the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh’s] birth was now assured. The significance of the solemn affirmation that this is “the Day which shall not be followed by night” was now clearly apprehended [in the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh].” (God Passes By, p. 245)

“The Charter which called into being, outlined the features and set in motion the processes of, this Administrative Order is none other than the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, His greatest legacy to posterity, the brightest emanation of His mind and the mightiest instrument forged to insure the continuity of the three ages which constitute the component parts of His Father’s Dispensation.” (God Passes By, p. 325)

“The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh had been instituted solely through the direct operation of His Will and purpose. The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, on the other hand, may be regarded as the offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who had generated the forces of a God-given Faith and the One Who had been made its sole Interpreter and was recognized as its perfect Exemplar.” (God Passes By, p. 325)

“The hereditary authority which the Guardian of the Administrative Order is called upon to exercise, and the right of the interpretation of the Holy Writ solely conferred upon him…these are among the features which combine to set apart the Order identified with the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh from any of the existing systems of human government.” (God Passes By, pp. 326-327)

“The Document establishing that Order, the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; signed and sealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá…establishes the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office and outlines its essential functions…” (God Passes By, p. 328)

“…of the utmost importance is for the believers, each and all, to cling firmly to the provisions of our beloved Master’s Will and Testament, as by this means alone the unity of the Cause, and its safe and speedy growth can be maintained, safeguarded and insured. Such an absolute and unwavering fidelity to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will, and firm adherence to the principles of the Administrative Order is indeed incumbent upon every one of the friends, without any distinction whatever. Upon this basis alone the Faith can be safeguarded and flourish.” (Letter to NSA of U.S., July 18, 1938; #599 Lights of Guidance, p. 182)

“According to the provisions of His [‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s] Will, I, as His eldest grandson, have been appointed as First Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith and Head of the Universal House of Justice which must, in conjunction with me coordinate and direct the affairs of the various Bahá’í communities in East and West in accordance with the principles enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh.” (“The Bahá’í Faith–Summary” in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. xiii)

“The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e. the Guardians’), guided directly by the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by ‘this is the day which will not be followed by the night’. In this Dispensation, divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet’s ascension, through, first the Master, and then the Guardians.” (The Bahá’í News, June, 1950, p. 8; #1047 of Lights of Guidance, p. 311)

“…guidance in this day, through the bounty of God, and because of the very nature of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation, has been vouchsafed to man through institutions in this world; namely the Guardianship at present; and also in the future, the International House of Justice; individuals are not in a position to interpret the Teachings.” (Letter to NSA of U.S., Dec. 24, 1955; #1053 Lights of Guidance, p. 313)

“The Guardian’s infallibility covers interpretation of the revealed word and its application. Likewise any instructions he may issue having to do with the protection of the Faith, or its well being must be closely obeyed, as he is infallible in the protection of the Faith. He is assured the guidance of both Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb, as the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá clearly reveals.” (Letter to believer, Aug. 20, 1956; #1055 Lights of Guidance, p. 314)

“The Will and Testament of Bahá’u’lláh and The Will and Testament of the Master clearly and explicitly indicate that the Interpreter of The Word was the Center of the Covenant and now is the Guardian. There are no other Interpreters whatsoever and no individual may interpret. This is strictly forbidden.” (Letter to NSA of Canada, June 4, 1957; #1056 Lights of Guidance, p. 314)

“…what the…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…, will progress, or be able to accomplish anything, unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Bahá’ís…..Once a Bahá’í has the profound conviction of the authority from God, vested in the Prophet, passed on to the Master [‘Abdu’l-Bahá], and by Him, to the Guardians, and which flows out through the assemblies and creates order based on obedience–once a Bahá’í has this, nothing can shake him. He [the Guardian], therefore, urges you, and the other members…to devote as much time as you possibly can, to educating the believers in the Covenant.” (Letter to believer, April 11, 1949; #620 Lights of Guidance, p. 189)

“…epoch-making decision of formation of first International Bahá’í Council, forerunner of supreme administrative institutions…–most significant milestone in evolution of Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in course of last thirty years. “…the constitution of International Council…history will acclaim as the greatest event shedding luster upon second epoch of Formative Age of Bahá’í Dispensation potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since inception of Administrative Order of Faith on morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Ascension…” (Proclamation, Jan. 9. 1951; Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950-1957, pp. 7-8)

“Process of the unfoldment of the ever-advancing Administrative Order accelerated by the formation of the International Bahá’í Council designed to assist in the erection of the superstructure of the Báb’s Sepulcher, cement ties uniting the budding World Administrative Center with the recently established state, and pave the way for the formation of the Bahá’í Court, essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice.” (Cablegram, April 25, 1951; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 13)

“Opening years of the second epoch of the Formative Age now witnessing at long last commencement of …vast majestic fate-laden process…destined through gradual emergence of the manifold institutions in World Center of the Faith as crown of the administrative structure of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Order. Gigantic process now set in motion…greatly accelerated through series of swiftly succeeding events originated in World Center of Faith.
“First, inauguration most holy worldwide enterprise unprecedented in annals of the Faith, construction in heart of Mount Carmel superstructure of the Báb’s Sepulcher. Second, creation of International Bahá’í Council in precincts Holy Shrine, forerunner of International House of Justice, supreme legislative organ of nascent, divinely-conceived, world-encircling Bahá’í Administrative Order….”
“Hour now ripe to take long inevitably deferred step in conformity with provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Testament…through appointment of first contingent of Hands of Cause of God, …. Initial step now taken regard preparatory full development of institution provided in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will, paralleled preliminary measure formation International Council destined to culminate in emergence of Universal House of Justice. Nascent institution forging fresh links binding rising World Center of Faith to consolidating World Community of followers of Most Great Name, paving way to adoption supplementary measure calculated reinforce foundations structure of the Bahá’í Administrative Order.” (Cablegram, Dec. 24, 1951; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 20)
[Ed. Note: The formation of the International Bahá’í Council is identified by Shoghi Effendi as a prior action which paved the way to the appointment of the first contingent of Hands; and the appointment of the Hands was calculated to reinforce the foundations of the structure of the Bahá’í Administrative Order. In the Bahá’í scheme according to Shoghi Effendi, the Council took precedence over the Hands.]

“Announce…nominations raising the number of present Hands of the Cause of God to nineteen… Members august body invested in conformity with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Testament, twofold sacred function, the propagation and preservation of the unity of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and destined to assume individually in the course of time the direction of institutions paralleling those revolving around the Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the Bahá’í world…” (Cablegram, Feb. 29, 1952; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 21)

“…The International Bahá’í Council has been enlarged and officers designated….” (Cablegram, April 23, 1952; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 26)

“…at the World Center of the Faith, [members of the American Bahá’í Community have been involved in] the triple function of hastening the construction of the Báb’s Sepulcher, of consolidating the ties binding the International Bahá’í Council to the civil authorities of Israel, and of completing the design of the projected Mashriqu’l-Adhkar on Mt. Carmel…” “At the World Center of the Faith…at long last the machinery of its highest institutions has been erected, and around whose most holy shrines the supreme organs of its unfolding Order, are, in their embryonic form, unfolding…” (June 30, 1952; Messages to the Bahá’í World, pp. 31 & 33)
[Ed. Note: It should be realized that the ties to the civil authorities of Israel that were being consolidated were those to the International Bahá’í Council and not to the Hands of the Faith. Additionally, it should be recognized that the highest institutions of the Faith–the supreme organs of the Administrative Order–were, according to Shoghi Effendi, very much alive in their embryonic form.]

“Call upon fifteen Hands from five continents, by virtue of their supreme function as chosen instruments for the propagation of the Faith, to inaugurate historic mission through the appointment, during Ridván 1954, of five auxiliary boards…” (Cablegram of Oct. 8, 1952; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 44)
[Ed. Note: It would appear that Shoghi Effendi identified here the major or highest function of the Hands to be “the propagation of the Faith”, in line with what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote in His Will and Testament, when He said they are “to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning…”]

“Hail emergence of the unfoldment in the opening years of the second epoch of the formative age of the Bahá’í Dispensation of the august Institution [of the Hands] foreshadowed by the Founder of the Faith and formally established in the Testament of the Center of His Covenant, closely associated in provisions of the same Will with Institution of the Guardianship, destined to assume in the fullness of time, under the aegis of the Guardian, the dual sacred responsibility for protection and propagation of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.” (Cablegram of April 6, 1954; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 58)
[Ed Note: Shoghi Effendi makes it clear that the Hands operate “under the aegis of the Guardian”, which is the pattern established in the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.]

“Measures have been undertaken…in anticipation of the forthcoming appointment by the fifteen Hands residing outside the Holy Land of five Auxiliary Boards…the members of which will act as deputies of the Hands…[they] will assist them, at a later period, in the discharge of their dual and sacred task of safe-guarding the Faith and of promoting its teaching activities.” (April, 1954, Messages to the Bahá’í World, 66)

“The raising of this Edifice [of the International Bahá’í Archives] will in turn herald the construction in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice.” (Nov. 27, 1954; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 74)
[Ed. Note: The words “administrative seats” imply living occupants going about their duties.]

“…the very institutions [of the World Order]…in their embryonic state, are now stirring in the womb of the present Formative Age of the Faith.” (Nov. 27, 1954, Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 75)

“…evidences of the rise and establishment in all continents of the globe of the administrative order, child of the divinely-appointed Covenant and harbinger of the world-encircling order.” (Cablegram, June 3, 1955; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 88)

“…the plan designed to insure the extension and completion of the arc serving as a base for the erection of future edifices constituting the World Bahá’í Administrative Center, has been successfully carried out.” (April 1957; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 108)

“Divinely appointed Institution of the Hands of the Cause, invested by virtue of the authority conferred by the Testament of the Center of the Covenant with the twin functions of protecting and propagating the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, now entering new phase in the process of the unfoldment of its sacred mission. To its newly assured responsibility to assist National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá’í world in the specific purpose of effectively prosecuting the World Spiritual Crusade, the primary obligation to watch over and insure protection to the Bahá’í world community, in close collaboration with these same National Assemblies, is now added…. “…these two institutions, occupying, with the Universal House of Justice, next to the Institution of the Guardianship, foremost rank in the divinely-ordained administrative hierarchy of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.” (Cablegram, June 4, 1957; Messages to the Bahá’í World, p. 123)
[Ed. Note: The National bodies are below the Universal House and the Hands are below the Guardian; neither the NSA’s nor the Hands are on the same plane as the other two Institutions.]

“A Covenant-breaker, as you know, is one who disobeys and turns away from the Center of the Covenant. Until such time as they repent of this sincerely, and express their willingness to work under the Center of the Covenant, their status must be considered the same…” –19 April 1953 (Light of Divine Guidance, Vol. 2, p. 109)
[Ed. Note: Lest the words “Center of the Covenant” in the above statement be taken to mean ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, it should be pointed out that the concept of willingly working under the Center of the Covenant relates to the one who was then the Center of the Cause–the Guardian of the Faith. Even the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land in 1960, following the Proclamation of Mason Remey, held that Shoghi Effendi became the Center of the Covenant subsequent to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In a letter written on 15 October 1960 to all NSA’s, those Hands wrote: “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His turn, in His Own handwriting created the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, as the Centre of His Covenant and specified the conditions of future Guardianship.”]

“…expulsion or excommunication from the Faith, which can be effected by the Guardian alone in his capacity as the supreme spiritual head of the Community, has far-reaching spiritual implications affecting the very soul of that believer.” (In a letter to Harlan Ober, May 8, 1939–Bahá’í News, March 1940, p. 2)

“The Guardian, like the Master before him, has not considered it advisable to as yet permit any person or Assembly to put another person out of the Cause of God. There is a sharp distinction between depriving a believer of his voting rights, which is a severe disciplinary measure and not a spiritual sanction, and pronouncing a former believer to be a truly spiritually diseased soul….No one but himself [the Guardian] can pronounce a person to be in that diseased condition we call ‘Covenant-breaking’, and no one but he can reinstate a Covenant-breaker.” (Bahá’í News, June 1949, p. 2)

“As you know, up to the present time, no one has been permitted to pronounce anybody a Covenant-breaker but the Guardian himself.” (Letter to NSA of Canada, March 30, 1957; #601 Lights of Guidance p. 183)

———————————————————————————————————————-

Statements of the Hands of the Cause of God

in Relation to

Their Interpretation of the Covenant

(Ed. Note: The word “Covenant” is not entirely missing from The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963, the record compiled by Rúhíyyih Khánum of the messages of the Hands of the Cause from the passing of Shoghi Effendi to the formation of their sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice in 1963. However, the word “Covenant” appears so infrequently that one might question whether its near absence was intentional on the part of those who wrote the messages. We who believe that the Covenants of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá focused on the appointed Center of the Cause–first ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and then the Guardians–are convinced that when the Hands of the Cause took control of the Faith in late 1957, they changed the meaning of the Bahá’í Covenant and subsequently the meaning of Covenant-breaking.

(In their denial of Mason Remey’s assertion that Shoghi Effendi identified him as the first Guardian’s successor when Shoghi Effendi named him the President of the embryonic Universal House of Justice, the Hands do state that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Centre of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant “created the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, as the Centre of His Covenant and specified the conditions of future Guardianship.” (Letter of October 15, 1960 to all National Spiritual Assemblies.) However, in that letter’s extended recital of reasons why Mason Remey could not be the second Guardian, they themselves either fail to realize or else they ignore the fact that there is no provision anywhere in the Writings to justify their assuming the role of a collective Guardianship.

(The following statements of the Hands should therefore be read in light of the above and of the statements on the Covenant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi made during their respective ministries.)

“…in our capacity as Hands of the Cause of God…assembled this 25th of November, 1957, at the Bahá’í World Centre and constituting the supreme body of the Bahá’í World Community”

DO HEREBY UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVE AND PROCLAIM AS FOLLOWS:

“Whereas the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith…passed away in London (England) on the 4th of November, 1957, without having appointed his successor; “And whereas it is now fallen upon us as Chief Stewards of the Bahá’í World Faith to preserve the unity, the security and the development of the Bahá’í World Community and all its institutions;

“And whereas in accordance with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ‘the Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the Guardian of the Cause of God’;

“We nominate and appoint from our own number to act on our behalf as the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith (named here are nine Hands) to exercise–subject to such directions and decisions as may be given from time to time by us as the Chief Stewards of the Bahá’í World Faith–all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith…” (The Ministry of the Custodians, pp. 29-30)

“We the undersigned Hands of the Cause hereby record the following action…That the authority to expel violators from the Faith shall be vested in the body of nine Hands, acting on reports and recommendations submitted by the Hands from their respective continents.” (Resolution of Hands, Nov. 25, 1957; Ministry, p. 34)

[Ed Note: A check of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will will indicate that only individuals opposing and protesting against the Guardian are subject to action by the Hands; and at the time of the Hands’ Resolution, the Hands were aware of no living Guardian of the Faith. Thus the power that they ascribed to themselves was not in compliance with ”Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will. For that matter, it also did not comply with Shoghi Effendi’s withholding the power of removal from everyone else except the Guardian of the Faith.]

“Has not the Guardian…in his mysterious insight into the present and future needs of the Bahá’í community, called into being the International Bahá’í Council and the company of twenty-seven Hands with their Auxiliary Boards, whom, in his final communication to the Bahá’ís, he designated ‘Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh’?”

“In our capacity of Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh, we Hands of the Cause have constituted a body of nine Hands to serve at the Bahá’í World Centre. This body of nine Hands will energetically deal with the protection of the Faith whenever attacks, whether from within or outside the Bahá’í community, are reported by Hands from their areas…”

“The hour has come, as it came with the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, when true Bahá’ís will be distinguished by their firmness in the Covenant and their spiritual radiance while pressing forward the mighty work committed to every area of the world community–to every individual Bahá’í!”

“Meanwhile the entire body of the Hands, assembled by the nine Hands of the World Centre, will decide when and how the International Bahá’í Council is to evolve through the successive stages outlined by the Guardian, culminating in the call to election of the Universal House of Justice by the membership of all National Spiritual Assemblies.” (Proclamation of the Hands from the first Conclave of Nov. 18-25, 1957; Ministry, pp. 36 , 37-38)

“Our lawyer advises us that we should also obtain from each National Assembly a letter recognizing us as the supreme body in the Cause, and this letter should include the following sentence: “We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.” (Letter to all NSA’s from Hands in the Holy Land, Dec. 2, 1957; Ministry, p. 40)

“It was his [the Guardian’s] hand at the helm that preserved uniformity in essentials whilst encouraging diversity in non-essentials. This is perhaps the greatest work that must now be carried on by us from this World Centre…. “You and we must always bear in mind that what inspires and unites the World Bahá’í Community is the pulsating stream to and from one universal point.” (Letter to NSA’s from Hands in the Holy Land, Feb. 13, 1958; Ministry, p 63)
[Ed. Note: What the Hands did was to substitute their ‘universal point’–the Hands in Haifa–for the Guardian, who was identified in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will as the “Center of the Cause.”]

“…the only possible way the work of this holy Faith, which our beloved Guardian inspired, organized and brought to such a high level, can be maintained and further consolidated, is by focusing both the consciousness of the believers and the work of the Cause of God upon its World Spiritual and Administrative Centre. The strength of a wheel and its power to roll forward are entirely dependent upon the hub, and the solidity of the spokes united in the hub. We have come to see that the supreme work of the Hands…is to maintain this focal Centre of Unity in the Holy Land at this dangerous time the Faith is passing through. There exists no other instrument for this purpose except ourselves.” (Letter to Hands throughout the world from Hands in the Holy Land, Mar. 21,1958; Ministry, p. 68)

“…in his very last message, published on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Holy Year [1952], the Guardian had left an instrument and given instructions by which his work could be carried on… The instrument for carrying the Faith through this difficult period– perhaps to be the darkest in its history–has been re-enforced and its functions amplified through the references made to the Hands of the Faith as the ‘Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth.'” (Ridván Message 1958 of Hands in Holy Land; Ministry, p. 78)

“‘The Master’s Testament is the sole authority controlling the appointment of successive Guardians, and its specific provisions were scrupulously upheld by the Guardian in his non- appointment of a second Guardian. Since a successor could only be chosen and designated by Shoghi Effendi in his own lifetime, the friends must dismiss all hopeful expectation that a will appointing a second Guardian may later be found.'” (Hands in the Holy Land citing “A New Bahá’í Era” in their own “Statement regarding the Guardianship” of June 12, 1958; Ministry, p. 101]

“‘Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth’. This designation, never before applied to them [the Hands] by him, appears to have been calculated to enable them with the loving support of the National Assemblies and the believers, to carry the Cause of God forward through this exceedingly difficult and stormy strait in the history of mankind to the calmer waters which lie ahead…” (Hands in the Holy Land Message to Intercontinental Conference, Frankfurt, Germany, July 25-29, 1958; Ministry, p. 102)
[Ed. Note: The word appears in this quote shows that an interpretation was made regarding the “Chief Stewards” reference, an interpretation with no authority from the writings of the Faith.]

“Our attorney advises us that we should have a similar letter [to those signed by previously- formed NSA’s] from each new National Assembly after it is formed. We therefore request that your Assembly adopt such a resolution, which should include the following sentence:

“We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith selected by the Hands of the Cause.” (Hands in the Holy Land to newly-formed NSA’s, Sept. 2, 1959, Ministry, p. 162)

“…we feel that it is necessary to recall the words in the Proclamation we sent out after the passing of the beloved Guardian: ‘When that divinely-ordained Body comes into existence, all the conditions of the Faith can be examined anew and the measures necessary for its future operation determined in consultation with the Hands of the Cause.’ This includes the subject of the Guardianship.” (Conclave message of Hands, Nov. 4, 1959, to Bahá’ís of East & West, Ministry, p. 169)

“We should bear in mind that by naming the Hands of the Cause the ‘Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth”, the beloved Guardian has conferred upon them, as the last act of his life, specific and particular responsibilities which they must discharge.” (Hands in the Holy Land to NSA’s, Dec. 22, 1959, Ministry, 172)

“The supreme importance and significance of the World Centre of the Faith, irrevocably fixed by Bahá’u’lláh Himself in the Holy Land, and constantly stressed by the Guardian in his writings, has emerged since his passing and looms before us in its stupendous outlines, as the Most Great Jubilee approaches and the institutions of the World Centre evolve. It is incumbent upon the Bahá’ís, particularly their elected National and Regional representatives, to realize that the unity of the Faith and the necessary uniform spread of its activities depend upon the proper co- ordination and protection which is given from the World Centre.” (Ridván Message of Hands–1960, Ministry, pp. 191-192)
[Ed. Note: Ridván 1960 is the time when Mason Remey’s Proclamation of his Guardianship was made.]

“DEEPLY REGRET NECESSITY INFORM BAHá’í WORLD HAND CAUSE MASON REMEY NOW ASSERTING HE IS GUARDIAN FAITH STOP THIS PREPOSTEROUS CLAIM CLEARLY CONTRARY SACRED TEXTS…” (Hands Holy Land, to Continental Hands & NSA’s, Apr. 28, 1960; Ministry, p. 196)

“For the protection of our beloved Faith we call upon the friends everywhere to have no association with Mr. Remey as long as he continues to press his false claim to the station of Guardianship…. “Such episodes as this can, through firmness, steadfastness and loyalty to the Covenant, prove of great benefit to the Cause of God, and through the consecrated efforts of the friends attract the bounties of Bahá’u’lláh that alone can ensure its triumph.” (Hands in Holy Land to other Hands & NSA’s; May 10, 1960; Ministry, p. 198)

“…the French National Assembly has been dissolved [by one of the Hands of the Cause] and the five offending members declared ineligible for re-election.” (Hands in Holy Land to other Hands, May 14, 1960, “Ministry“, p. 203)
[Ed. Note: The writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi do not provide for such an exercise of power by one or more Hands.]

“Acting immediately to protect the Faith, the Hands in the Holy Land sent the Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qasim Faizi to France as their representative, with specific instructions to dissolve the National Assembly and call for a new election…” (Hands in Holy Land to other Hands & NSA’s, May 28, 1960, Ministry, p. 204)

“There is nothing in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, nor in the messages or instructions of our beloved Guardian, which gives Mr. Remey any basis whatsoever for claiming to be the infallible Guardian.” (Hands in Holy Land to Hands & NSA’s, May 29, 1960, Ministry, p. 205)
[Ed. Note: The reader might recall that there are no provisions in the writings for the Hands of the Cause to exercise the authority that they assumed.]

“The believers everywhere should immediately cease associating, either by direct contact or by correspondence, with anyone who supports Mason Remey’s claim to be the Guardian of the Faith, because the actions of these misguided people, whatever their intent, can only lead to discord and division within the Cause of God.” (Hands in Holy Land to NSA’s, July 5, 1960; Ministry, p. 209)
[Ed Note: The true “Center of the Cause” according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, would prevent discord and division.]

“It has been recommended that this year a special effort be made by all the Continental Hands to arrange for visits to as many Bahá’í centres as possible on their way to or from the Conclave. We feel that such visits at this time will have great influence in uniting the friends and deepening them in their understanding of the Covenant…..
“Our beloved [Shoghi Effendi] did not make such an appointment [of a second Guardian] because to do so in the circumstances with which he was faced would have been a violation of the Sacred Texts; thus his non-appointment of a successor upheld the Text of the written Covenant of God.” (Hands in Holy Land to other Hands, July 7, 1960; Ministry, pp. 2110 & 211)

“…ANNOUNCE BAHá’í WORLD MASON REMEY COVENANT BREAKER EXPELLED FAITH….CALL UPON FRIENDS EVERYWHERE SHUN REMEY AND ANYONE ASSOCIATING WITH HIM OR ACTIVELY SUPPORTING HIS CLAIMS.” (HANDSFAITH to NSA’s, July 26, 1960; Ministry, p. 223)

“…it is clear that no one but a blood descendant of Bahá’u’lláh could possibly have been appointed by Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Faith.
“Bahá’u’lláh, in writing, in unambiguous terms established the Master as the Centre of His Covenant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His turn, in His Own handwriting created the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, as the Centre of His Covenant and specified the conditions of future Guardianship….
“Without one written word from the Guardian, Mason Remey claims that because he was the President of the International Bahá’í Council, and because this body is the embryonic international institution, it automatically makes him the President of that future body, and hence, Guardian of the Faith…” (Hands in Holy Land to NSA’s, Oct. 15, 1960; Ministry, p. 234)
[Ed. Note: It would appear that the Hands saw little or no significance in Shoghi Effendi’s Proclamation of Jan. 9, 1951, establishing the International Bahá’í Council, the embryonic Universal House of Justice.]

“Our strength has always lain in obedience to the commands of the Centre of the Covenant; if the Hands and their Boards, the National Assemblies and their committees, each functioning in the field delineated for it by the Guardian, will cooperate to the full extent implied in his above words [final paragraph of Guardian’s June 4, 1957 cablegram–but stopping before reference to “the Universal House of Justice, next to the Institution of the Guardianship…”] great spiritual powers will be released and a tremendous new impetus be given to the work of the Crusade in all its aspects.” (Conclave Message of Hands, Nov. 2, 1960; Ministry, p. 240)

“WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, DULY NOMINATED AND APPOINTED AS CUSTODIANS…’to exercise–subject to such directions and decisions as may be given from time to time by us as the Chief Stewards of the Bahá’í world Faith–all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith…as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá’í World Faith, and this until such time as the Universal House of Justice, upon being duly established and elected in conformity with the Sacred Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, may otherwise determine’, do now declare that the Universal House of Justice was so established…and we hereby release all the said functions, rights and powers which were conferred upon us under the said Declaration of November 25th, 1957 as determined by the Universal House of Justice…and we declare that all the said functions, rights and powers now devolve rightfully and in full accordance with the Sacred Writings of the Bahá’í Faith upon the Universal House of Justice. We make this statement for the full body of the Hands of the Cause of God…and the office of Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith has thus ceased to exist.” (Hands in the Holy Land, June 7, 1963; Ministry, p. 433)

———————————————————————————————————————-

The Covenant As Seen By and

Acted Upon By Mason Remey

[Ed. Note: Mason Remey was one of the early believers in the United States, having accepted the Faith in Paris at the turn of the century. During the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a number of his writings were published in “Star of the West,” providing his view of the Covenant, a view that was not to change during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi and the so-called ministry of the Custodians or during his own ministry as second Guardian.]

“When the members of an assembly are each and all firm in the Center of The Covenant, they are then organically united and the life of The Covenant is manifest in their midst–thus the will and the desire of God may be accomplished. In no other way can it be done. We all must be firm in The Center of The Covenant, in the love of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá!….

“For many years ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has been imploring and calling the people to ‘firmness and steadfastness in the Covenant and Testament,’ which is firmness and steadfastness in The Center of The Covenant which is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá himself. The reason for this repeated call is now becoming apparent to the Bahá’ís, for upon this connection, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, depends the well- being of the Cause….”
“…the true and firm Bahá’ís have turned with implicit faith towards ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Branch, The Center of The Covenant, in whom they find their illumination, their guidance, their strength, their hope, their all.
“THEREFORE, RECOGNIZING IN ‘AbDU’L-BAHá THE CENTER OF GOD’S COVENANT, IS, IN THIS DAY, THE ONE ALL-IMPORTANT MATTER BEFORE THE WORLD, FOR IN HIM IS THE POWER OF THE COVENANT OF GOD, WHICH ALONE IS TO REGENERATE MANKIND….” (Honolulu, Hawaii, July 19, 1913–Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 10, Sept. 8, 1913)

“In contacting with the Bahá’ís in various parts of the country, one realizes that there is a point which the friends must understand thoroughly themselves before they can really teach the Cause, confirm others in the faith and bring them to the realization of the New Covenant, and its Center who is now upon earth in the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This point is: that the Bahá’í Cause is The Covenant of God, not merely one of many phases of Universal Truth (as some say), but that The Covenant of Abhá is The Truth–the only living Truth today….
“…the one ‘Word of God’…manifests successively and singly through the various chosen prophets or Divine Mouthpieces sent to the people of the world.
“Thus the ‘Word of God’ in its Singleness manifested through Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb–the ‘first point’ of the new cycle–and Bahá’u’lláh.
“And now the fruit and the Power of the Spirit of the Word of God, as revealed in Bahá’u’lláh is manifest to all the world through the life of servitude to humanity of The Center of the Covenant –he who calls himself ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is The Center from which the spiritual effulgence (which appeared in these ‘latter days’ in the blessed person of Bahá’u’lláh) is now being reflected to the world. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s word is ‘The Truth’; his teaching differentiates between error and Truth. He is the Unique Center of guidance and illumination for all mankind.”
“By virtue of The Singleness of God, ‘the Word’ is manifest through but one chosen individual at a time….”
“The Center of The Covenant is the Divine physician to the world besides whom there is none other. That which proceeds from him is the Word of God, and is to be obeyed. If it is not obeyed souls suffer; they deprive themselves of the bounty and blessings of God. “Every command of The Center of The Covenant is to be obeyed implicitly. If anyone fails to follow, he deprives himself and is in manifest spiritual loss…” (“Let the New Follow the New,” Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 16 (Dec. 31, 1913), pp. 267-268 & p. 274 )

“In ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teachings, including of course those divine teachings contained in his Last Will and Spiritual Testament to the Bahá’ís, He demonstrates to us that in this day and the time of this divine Bahá’í Dispensation upon earth that the unique source of the Holy Spirit is Bahá’u’lláh – that from Bahá’u’lláh…this spirit of divine life descends through the Center of his Covenant upon the Guardian of the Cause , [who] after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the center of the divine confirmations of the kingdom. Therefore after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian of the Faith is the only, and the unique source, of divine guidance for the believers – the Guardianship being this institution and not the personality of the human Guardian. The Will and Testament provides for a continued line of many succeeding Guardians on through the ages to come. This divine guidance coming through the Institution of the Guardianship and this is the only continued source of confirmation of the Holy Spirit to the world in this Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh!” (1960–Vol. I, “Daily Observations of the Bahá’í Faith Made to the Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land by Mason Remey”, pp. 5-6)

“The King of the Kingdom of God upon earth, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, rules in his own right – the right that was established and bestowed upon him by the Center of the Covenant, whose rule of the Kingdom was bestowed upon Him by appointment of Bahá’u’lláh, the Manifestation of God to man whose coming in these days has been heralded by Christ and all of the Prophets. Now the Guardianship thus established in the Will and Testament of the Center of the Covenant is not to be peculiar to but one soul only, the Beloved Shoghi Effendi, but to a series of souls extending on for centuries ahead, the power vested in them being that of Guardianship by virtue of which impersonal power the Cause of God will be led on and on to spiritual victory over spiritual victory until this Kingdom will be triumphant upon earth, all in fulfillment of the provisions of Christ and the Prophets as well as that of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. All this is to be accomplished not by the personal powers or attainments of these Guardians as men, but by virtue of their Guardianship which office or function in itself, speaking through the person of the Guardian, is endowed with the power of the rulership of the Kingdom. Such (inadequate as is my wording) is the power of the Guardianship.” (1960–Vol. I, “Daily Observations…”, pp. 57-58)

“The Hands of the Faith are now in command of the Cause and their one thought uppermost is to keep the people from even thinking of and wishing for a Guardian. The every move and thought in the conferences of the Custodians is to eliminate and squelch any thought of Guardianship. It is tabu. So far as I can judge all stand with Rúhíyyih Khánum squarely against another Guardianship.” (15 April 1959; Vol. IV, “Daily Observations…”, p. 23)

“This Guardianless Bahá’í message that at present is being foisted onto the people by the action of the Hands of the Faith is not the Bahá’í message at all. The Covenant alone was indeed the message to the world during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but when the Will and Testament was given us – this Will and Testament with the Guardianship as its very heart and soul, then [it] became, together with the Covenant, the teaching of our Faith and from then on it is the message of the Bahá’í Cause and the only message for us to give.” (16 April 1959; Vol IV, “Daily Observations…” pp. 25- 26)

“In the days of Bahá’u’lláh some of those nearest to The Báb were breakers of His (The Báb’s Covenant). In the days of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá some of those that had been nearest to Bahá’u’lláh became Covenant breakers and the enemies of the Master ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In the days of the First Guardian of the Faith, among those who had been nearest to the Master ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refused to obey Shoghi Effendi and thus became the Covenant breakers of the days of his ministry to the Faith. “Now in this day – today – what about us? Today should be the day of the Second Guardian of the Faith!” (19 April 1959; Vol. IV, “Daily Observations…” p. 27)

“Every living organism has a heart. Upon the healthy action of which these organisms are dependent for their proper functioning, so does the Bahá’í Faith have a heart upon which its life depends and this heart is the Guardianship of the Faith. But the Hands of the Faith in their dilemma at the death of our beloved Guardian were so confused and upset that they thought the Cause must get along without any more Guardianship — thus setting up a substitute for this Guardianship in their present intending leadership of the nine Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land, for which body there is no authority whatsoever in the administrative plan of Bahá’í government as given us in the Will and Testament of the Master, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” (1960–Vol. IV, “Daily Observations…”, p. 56)

“Acceptance of the basic principles of the Bahá’í Faith–namely, the present-day fulfillment of the Covenant as taught by the Master ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the acceptance of His Will and Testament that gave the Administration of the Faith to the Bahá’í World–this forms the basis of the Bahá’í Faith and belief today and is the message that the Bahá’ís have in this day to give to the world. Such was the message given in the days of the First Guardian of the Faith, thus it still is and ever shall be under the Second Guardian of the Faith in this day, and thus will it be in the days of succeeding Guardians of the Faith in the future.
“The message that the violating Hands of the Faith have substituted in place of the message of the Beloved Guardian, the message of the Faith ‘Sans Guardian’, is similar to that of Ahmad Sohrab and his followers of the New History Society, who claim that they are Bahá’í followers of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá but that they do not accept the Guardian of the Faith. Thus, like Ahmad Sohrab and his followers are the present Hands of the Faith violating the Administrative Guardianship of the Faith.” (June 1960–“Second Encyclical Letter”)

“In a recent publication entitled ‘Convincing Answers’… now in circulation by these misled believers in Haifa, their followers are being prepared for the election of their democratic House of Justice. This is to take place during the next Ridván, 120 to be held in the form of a Conference in London, England. In this booklet, the 12 principles of the Faith are enumerated and discussed at length; whereas, the name of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is mentioned only once and even then is referred to simply as the ‘Son of Bahá’u’lláh’ instead of honoring Him in His true Station as the Center of the Covenant as the True Believers know and continue to honor Him as being. No mention is made therein of the Master’s Will and Testament nor of Shoghi Effendi (who dedicated his entire life towards the development of the Administration and from whom, it was formerly claimed by the erring and former Hands in Haifa, their inspiration and guidance would come from the Abhá Kingdom). Yet, they do not deem his name worthy of mention in a publication circulated to attract new believers to the Faith.
“Thus, these who claim to be Bahá’ís are presenting the Cause of God to be a mere human association of people; tearing out the very Heart of the Administration of the Faith by eliminating the Guardianship and all it stands for.” (October 24, 1962; The Glad Tidings, Vol. II, No. 7, p. 2)

“…If we keep in mind the fact that the Guardian ‘offers’ spiritual protection to those who seek it, then we will understand why it is not enough merely to accept the Guardianship of Faith in order to be ‘protected’ spiritually. One must submit oneself willingly to the spiritual protection offered him under the guidance of the Guardian if he desires spiritual security.
“Too often in the past, the friends miss-understood the station of Guardian and the institution of Guardianship. As a result, their submission to the Guardian and the Guardianship was made in the form of a ‘compromise.’ In other words, they served and paid allegiance to a system in which they had not complete faith and to which they gave service either under ‘pressure’ or in fear of reprimand and possible expulsion from offices held or loss of financial support received. Thus, we can readily appreciate the ‘natural’ reaction to such a regime upon the death of the First Guardian in 1957;–those most subjected to the ‘pressures’ and self-imposed hypocrisy in their services to the Guardianship were the most strongly opposed to the continuation of that institution…” (13 April 1964 – Ridván Letter; The Glad Tidings, Vol. V, No. 2, May 1964)

“The institution of Guardianship of the Bahá’í World Faith offers Unity and Spiritual Protection to the faithful believers who, by virtue of their spiritual maturity and understanding of the teachings, submit themselves wholeheartedly and unreservedly to its guidance. By so doing, the faithful believers contribute to the preservation and support of this Divinely Inspired Institution.
“The Guardian of the Faith represents the Hereditary Spiritual Head of the Faith. It is the Institution of “Guardianship” which he heads that is endowed with “infallibility.” This infallibility reaches the Guardian through an unbroken line of successorship which began with the appointment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant by Bahá’u’lláh and then of Shoghi Effendi as first Guardian by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá…
“The seat of infallibility can only be vested in one living person — The Guardian — in order that dissension, discord and differences of opinion may be avoided….” ( 9 August 1964–“Statement by the Guardian on the Infallibility of the Guardianship of the Bahá’í Faith”)

“The Guardian of the Faith announces to the Bahá’í World his decision to create the Second International Bahá’í Council. This Council will exist in name only until conditions in the Faith require it to function as a Body…” (21 Sept. 1964; The Glad Tidings, Oct. 1964, p. 1)

“…I am turning the affairs of the Faith over to you [Joel B. Marangella] as the President of the Second Bahá’í International Council to handle this for me–you having the other members of the International Council to assist you.”
“You are conversant with the teachings of the Faith so from now on I will leave you free to conduct the affairs of the Faith, I making suggestions when necessary.” (18 February 1966; The Glad Tidings, May 1966, p. 1)
[Ed. Note: The activation of the Council is actually the beginning of the ministry of the Third Guardian. Several years later in his Proclamation letter of November 12, 1969, Joel B. Marangella included a copy of a letter addressed to him by the second Guardian, dated 5 December 1961, which told him to tell the Bahá’í World that he had been appointed to be the Third Guardian. Thus the line of appointed interpreters continued with Joel Marangella.]

———————————————————————————————————————-

The Covenant as Seen and Changed

by the Sans-Guardian UHJ Established in 1963

“The Universal House of Justice wishes to reaffirm at this time the tribute which it felt moved to pay to the Hands of the Cause of God at the World Congress, those precious souls who have brought the Cause safely to victory in the name of Shoghi Effendi…. “It [the UHJ] has no officers and henceforth its communications to the Bahá’í world will be signed Universal House of Justice over an embossed seal… “The Universal House of Justice, in close consultation with the Hands of the Cause, is examining the vast range of Bahá’í activity and growth… (May 7, 1963; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 5)
[Ed. Note: The reader might find it instructive to check the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to see whether ‘Abdu’l-Bahá provides for the Hands to consult with the Universal House of Justice.]

“After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consultation which included consideration of the views of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.” (Oct. 6, 1963; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 11)

“The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh is unbroken, its all-encompassing power inviolate. The two unique features which distinguish it from all religious covenants of the past are unchanged and operative. The revealed Word, in its original purity, amplified by the divinely guided interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, remains immutable, unadulterated by any man-made creeds or dogmas, unwarrantable inferences, or unauthorized interpretations. The channel of Divine guidance, providing flexibility in all the affairs of mankind, remains open through that institution which was founded by Bahá’u’lláh and endowed by Him with supreme authority and unfailing guidance, and of which the Master wrote: ‘Unto this body all things must be referred.'” “…In their capacity as protectors of the Faith, the Hands will continue to take action to expel Covenant-breakers and to reinstate those who sincerely repent, subject in each instance to the approval of the Universal House of Justice.” (Oct. 1963; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p.13 & p. 14)
[Ed Note: In the Will the Master did write “Unto this body all things must be referred,” but He also stated in that same Document that the Guardian is that body’s “sacred head”.]

“Responsibility for decisions of matters of general policy affecting the institution of the Hands of the Cause, which was formerly exercised by the beloved Guardian, now devolves upon the Universal House of Justice as the supreme and central institution of the Faith to which all must turn.” (Nov. 1964; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 41)
[Ed Note: This decision of the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice puts that body into the sphere of the Guardian.]

“At the time of our beloved Shoghi Effendi’s death it was evident, from the circumstances and from the explicit requirements of the Holy Texts, that it had been impossible for him to appoint a successor in accordance with the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This situation, in which the Guardian died without being able to appoint a successor, presented an obscure question not covered by the explicit Holy Text, and had to be referred to the Universal House of Justice….
“Following the passing of Shoghi Effendi the international administration of the Faith was carried on by the Hands of the Cause of God with the complete agreement and loyalty of the national spiritual assemblies and the body of the believers. This was in accordance with the Guardian’s designation of the Hands as the ‘Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth.’

“From the very outset of their custodianship of the Cause of God the Hands realized that since they had no certainty of Divine guidance such as is incontrovertibly assured to the Guardian and to the Universal House of Justice, their one safe course was to follow with undeviating firmness the instructions and policies of Shoghi Effendi.”(March 9, 1965; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 44 & p. 45)
[Ed Note: These passages provide an interpretation of the Will, an interpretation first expounded by the Hands. Both the Hands and the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice ignore the fact that Shoghi Effendi called for the International Bahá’í Council to evolve into a Bahá’í Court, a stage that was by-passed by the Hands, even though Shoghi Effendi said it was an “essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice.”]

“The Guardian had given the Bahá’í world explicit and detailed plans covering the period until Ridván 1963, the end of the Ten Year Crusade.” (March 9, 1965; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 46)
[Ed. Note: The goal of the 10-year Crusade was to have the Council evolve into a Court, not a headless Universal House of Justice.]

“Although not invested with the function of interpretation, the House of Justice is in a position to do everything necessary to establish the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh on this earth. Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding ‘authoritative’ or ‘inspired’ interpretations or usurping the function of Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice.” (March 9, 1965, “Wellspring of Guidance”, pp 52-53)
[Ed Note: The statement obviously ignores the fact that the Hands of the Faith came up with their own interpretation of the appellation Shoghi Effendi used in relationship to them and then considered themselves “in succession to the Guardian of the Faith.”]

“…the friends are informed that any member [of the Universal House of Justice] committing a ‘sin injurious to the common weal’ may be expelled from membership of the House of Justice by a majority vote of the House itself. Should any member, God forbid, be guilty of breaking the Covenant, the matter would be investigated by the Hands of the Cause of God, and the Covenant- breaker would be expelled by decision of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, subject to the approval of the House of Justice…” (March 9, 1965, “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 55 )
[Ed. Note: This statement of the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice is clearly in contrast to what is written in The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.]

“There is no doubt at all that in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi was the authority designated to appoint his successor; but he had no children and all the surviving Aghsan had broken the Covenant. Thus, as the Hands of the Cause stated in 1957, it is clear that there was no one he could have appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Will. …Moreover, that same Will had provided a clear means for the confirmation of the Guardian’s appointment of his successor, as you are aware. The nine Hands to be elected by the body of the Hands were to give their assent by secret ballot to the Guardian’s choice. In 1957 the entire body of the Hands, after fully investigating the matter, announced that Shoghi Effendi had appointed no successor and left no will. (May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 82)
[Ed. Note: It should be obvious that the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice is upholding the position taken by the Hands that the successor to Shoghi Effendi had to be an Aghsan. In addition, it should also be noted that at the time when Shoghi Effendi named Mason Remey as the head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice, there were no Hands. Then, too, a will would not be used if the Guardian complied with the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which made it incumbent upon him to appoint his successor “in his own life-time.” After a Guardian’s passing, the Hands have no authority provided to them by the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to give their assent or dissent with respect to the Guardian’s appointment of his successor.]

“The infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, operating within its ordained sphere, has not been made dependent upon the presence in its membership of the Guardian of the Cause.” (May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 82)
[Ed Note: The Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that the Guardian is the “sacred head” of the institution, and goes on to mandate the following: “Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him.”–The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 14]

“…the Universal House of Justice, itself assured of Divine guidance, is well aware of the absence of the Guardian and will approach all matters of legislation only when certain of its sphere of jurisdiction, a sphere which the Guardian has confidently described as ‘clearly defined.'”(May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 84)
[Ed. Note: Among the areas that were clearly defined in the Master’s Will was the disposition of the Huquq’u’lláh. The Will states: “It is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God.” The sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice subsequently took over the Huquq, thus invading the sphere of the Guardian. Shoghi Effendi said in his “Dispensation” that the Guardian “is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them [the fellow-members of the UHJ] of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh’s revealed utterances.” Shoghi Effendi could not–and can not–call for a reconsideration of any of the acts of the heterodox UHJ from the next world. Once again, it should be noted that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and the Aqdas were considered by Shoghi Effendi as “inseparable parts of one complete unit.” (p. 4, WOB)]

“Now the Universal House of Justice must function without the Guardian, but the principle of inseparability remains. The Guardianship does not lose its significance nor position in the Order of Bahá’u’lláh merely because there is no living Guardian.” (May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 87)
[Ed. Note: Thus, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s enjoinder in the Will that it is “incumbent upon the guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing” is put to naught–indeed, must be considered by the heterodox organization as a fallacious or ill-advised position, for it does not square with the position of the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice.]

“No good but only evil can come from taking the responsibility for the future of God’s Cause into our own hands and trying to force it into ways that we wish it to go regardless of the clear texts and our own limitations.” (May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 87)

“However great may be our inability to understand the mystery and the implications of the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the strong cord to which all must cling with assurance is the Covenant. The emphatic and vigorous language of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament is at this time, as at the time of His own passing, the safeguard of the Cause”
“Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice….'” (May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 89)
[Ed Note: It should always be borne in mind that the passages in the Will and Testament that relate to the Universal House of Justice have embedded within them the requirement that the Guardian of the Faith is the “sacred head” of that institution.]

“…it cannot legislate to make possible the appointment of a successor to Shoghi Effendi, nor can it legislate to make possible the appointment of any more Hands of the Cause, but it must do everything within its power to ensure the performance of all those functions which it shares with these two mighty institutions. It must make provision for the proper discharge in future of the functions of protection and propagation, which the administrative bodies share with the Guardianship and the Hands of the Cause; it must, in the absence of the Guardian, receive and disburse the Huquq’u’lláh….It must make provision in its constitution for the removal of any of its members who commits a sin ‘injurious to the common weal.'” (May 27, 1966; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 91)
[Ed Note: Yet the Will provides for only the Guardian to remove members of the Universal House of Justice for sins “injurious to the common weal.”]

“Rejoice announce momentous decision establish eleven Continental Boards Counselors protection propagation Faith…. Adoption this significant step following consultation with Hands Cause God ensures extension future appointed functions their institution. Continental Boards entrusted in close collaboration Hands Cause with responsibility direction Auxiliary Boards and consultation national spiritual assemblies.” (Cablegram, June 21, 1968; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 139)
[Ed Note: Here one sees that the sans-Guardian UHJ is simply appointing Hands by a different name and the heterodox UHJ is taking the place of the Guardian over them.]

“The absence of the Guardian of the Faith brought about an entirely new relationship between the Universal House of Justice and the Hands of the Cause and called for the progressive unfoldment by the Universal House of Justice of the manner in which the Hands of the Cause would carry out their divinely conferred functions of protection and propagation…. the Universal House of Justice decided, as announced in its recent cable, to establish Continental Boards of Counselors for the protection and propagation of the Faith…” (June 24, 1968; “Wellspring of Guidance”, p. 141)

“The Hands residing in the Holy Land will act as liaison between the Universal House of Justice and the Continental Boards of Counselors, and will also assist the Universal House of Justice in setting up, at a propitious time, an international teaching center in the Holy Land, as anticipated in the Guardian’s writings.” (24 June 1968; “Messages from the Universal House…1968-1973”, p. 8)

“The acute distinction between this [system being developed by the sans-Guardian organization] and present day society will inevitably arouse the interest of the more enlightened, and as the world’s gloom deepens the light of Bahá’í life will shine brighter and brighter until its brilliance must eventually attract the disillusioned masses and cause them to enter the haven of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh…” (August 1968. “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 12)

“Authority and direction flow from the Assemblies, whereas the power to accomplish the tasks resides primarily in the entire body of the believers. It is the principal task of the Auxiliary Boards to assist in arousing and releasing this power. This is a vital activity, and if they are to be able to perform it adequately they must avoid becoming involved in the work of administration….” “Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counselors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counselors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer. They do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems…” (Oct. 1, 1969; “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 30 & p. 32)

“Just as the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá does not in any way contradict the Kitáb-i-Aqdas but, in the Guardian’s words, ‘confirms, supplements, and correlates the provisions of the Aqdas,’ so the writings of the Guardian contradict neither the revealed Word nor the interpretations of the Master. In attempting to understand the Writings, therefore, one must first realize that there is and can be no real contradiction in them, and in the light of this we can confidently seek the unity of meaning which they contain.” (Dec. 7, 1969; “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 38)
[Ed Note: With this line of reasoning it should be clear that those within the heterodox organization have no need for the Center of the Cause–the Interpreter–whom Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá identified as crucial to the unity of the Cause.]

“While the specific responsibility of the Guardian is the interpretation of the Word, he is also invested with all the powers and prerogatives necessary to discharge his function as Guardian of the Cause, its Head and supreme protector. He is, furthermore, made the irremovable head and member for life of the supreme legislative body of the Faith.” (Dec. 7, 1969; “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 39)
[Ed Note: The heterodox UHJ talks the talk, but it does not “walk the walk”. How can Shoghi Effendi be considered the irremovable head of an institution when he is no longer present in the world to exercise the functions of that head?]

“Future Guardians are clearly envisaged and referred to in the Writings, but there is nowhere any promise or guarantee that the line of Guardians would endure forever; on the contrary there are clear indications that the line could be broken. Yet, in spite of this, there is a repeated insistence in the Writings on the indestructibility of the Covenant and the immutability of God’s Purpose for this Day.” (Dec. 7, 1969, “Messages from the Universal House…”, pp. 39-40)
[Ed. Note: The heterodox UHJ refers to clear indications–in the plural–but in the following paragraph it provides only one passage from the Aqdas as its ‘proof,’ and that statement, which refers to the “endowments dedicated to charity,” is interpreted by the heterodox UHJ to be a reference to the Huquq (it isn’t). Furthermore, they interpret the reference to the Aghsan to be synonymous with the Guardianship (although the word “Guardian” or “Guardianship” does not appears in the quotation). The Universal House of Justice is not empowered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will to make such an interpretation of the Holy Text.]

“In the Bahá’í Faith there are two authoritative centers appointed to which the believers must turn, for in reality the Interpreter of the Word is an extension of that center which is the Word itself. The Book is the record of the utterance of Bahá’u’lláh, while the divinely inspired Interpreter is the living Mouth of that Book–it is he and he alone who can authoritatively state what the Book means. Thus one center is the Book with its Interpreter, and the other is the Universal House of Justice guided by God to decide on whatever is not explicitly revealed in the Book. This pattern of centers and their relationships is apparent at every stage in the unfoldment of the Cause.” (Dec. 7, 1969, “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 42)
[Ed. Note: On the basis of what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote, this concept of there being more than one center is an apparently original one with the heterodox Universal House of Justice.]

“As the sphere of jurisdiction of the Universal House of Justice in matters of legislation extends to whatever is not explicitly revealed in the Sacred Text, it is clear that the Book itself is the highest authority and delimits the sphere of action of the House of Justice. Likewise, the Interpreter of the Book must also have the authority to define the sphere of the legislative action of the elected representatives of the Cause. The writings of the Guardian and the advice given by him over the thirty-six years of his Guardianship show the way in which he exercised this function in relation to the Universal House of Justice as well as to National and Local Spiritual Assemblies.
“The fact that the Guardian has the authority to define the sphere of the legislative action of the Universal House of Justice does not carry with it the corollary that without such guidance the Universal House of Justice might stray beyond the limits of its proper authority; such a deduction would conflict with all the other texts referring to its infallibility, and specifically with the Guardian’s own clear assertion that the Universal House of Justice never can or will infringe on the sacred and prescribed domain of the Guardianship.” (Dec. 7, 1969; “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 43)
[Ed. Note: The heterodox UHJ simply refuses to recognize that the Guardian is to be the ‘sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body,’ that his living presence is essential for that body’s very existence.]

“… Shoghi Effendi’s secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer on 25 March 1930, ‘The contents of the Will of the Master are far too much for the present generation to comprehend. It needs at least a century of actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be revealed…'” (Dec 7, 1969 closing passage; “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 44)
[Ed. Note: For the entire Will to be in operation, the institutions of the Guardianship and the Hands of the Cause would need to continue, and the Huquq’u’lláh would be under the direction of the Guardian, not the heterodox UHJ.]

“The Institution of the Hands of the Cause of God was brought into existence in the time of Bahá’u’lláh and when the Administrative Order was proclaimed and formally established by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will, it became an auxiliary institution of the Guardianship. The Auxiliary Boards, in their turn, were brought into being by Shoghi Effendi as an auxiliary institution of the Hands of the Cause..
“When, following the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the Universal House of Justice decided that it could not legislate to make possible the appointment of further Hands of the Cause, it became necessary for it to create a new institution, appointed by itself, to extend into the future the functions of protection and propagation vested in the Hands of the Cause and, with that in view, so to develop the Institution of the Hands that it could nurture the new institution and function in close collaboration with it as long as possible” (April 24, 1972; “Messages from the Universal House…”, p. 92)

“There being no successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, the Universal House of Justice is the Head of the Faith and its supreme institution, to which all must turn, and on it rests the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the unity and progress of the Cause of God. Further, there devolve upon it the duties of directing and coordinating the work of the Hands of the Cause, of ensuring the continuing discharge of the functions of protection and propagation vested in that institution, and of providing for the receipt and disbursement of the Huquq’u’lláh.” (Declaration of Trust of the heterodox UHJ, 26 November 1972, included in the document “The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice.”)

“The Universal House of Justice is the supreme institution of an Administrative Order whose salient features, whose authority and whose principles of operation are clearly enunciated in the Sacred Writings of the Bahá’í Faith and their authorized interpretations. This Administrative Order consists, on the one hand, of a series of elected councils, universal, secondary and local, in which are vested legislative, executive and judicial powers over the Bahá’í community and, on the other, of eminent and devoted believers appointed for the specific purposes of protecting and propagating the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh under the guidance of the Head of that Faith.
“This Administrative Order is the nucleus and pattern of the World Order adumbrated by Bahá’u’lláh…” (Preamble of By-Laws for The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice – 1972.)

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The Covenant as Seen By And

Acted Upon by Joel B. Marangella

[Ed. Note: Joel Marangella was the President of the French National Assembly which voted to accept the Guardianship of Mason Remey. He and the others who refused to back down from their decision were subsequently identified by the Hands of the Faith as Covenant-breakers. Almost a month prior to the Hands’ cablegram of 3 August 1960, to all NSA’s, in which the “disloyal individuals” were identified as expelled, Joel Marangella wrote a letter of 9 July providing his explanation for the decision he had made, all of which was based upon his view of the Covenant–a view that has not changed. Over the years since that time, the third Guardian has written in numerous articles about the Covenant of the Faith and the Great Violation. The statements that follow are only a brief sampling.]

“For those of us who have loved and served our first Guardian during his lifetime and have treasured and held dear his imperishable writings and instructions, our foremost desire since his passing has been…to remain faithful and obedient to the instructions he has given us during his lifetime and left with us as an eternal bequest from his infallible pen. The present crisis which faces our beloved Cause, it seems to me, revolves solely around this point coupled with the doubt which many have permitted to creep into their own minds stemming from a lack of faith in the inviolability of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘the all-mighty Covenant, the like of which the sacred Dispensations of the past have never witnessed”, “one of the distinctive features of this most mighty cycle” and the ‘Ark of Salvation’. (See pg. 239, “God Passes By”.)

“Following the passing of Shoghi Effendi…we all heard the following speculations which are not acceptable in the light of the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and all that our beloved first Guardian has written: “a) That the plan of God had been changed and there would never be another Guardian. “b) That the Faith does not need a Guardian any longer. “As for myself….
“a) The Institution of the Guardianship was essential to the continued existence of our beloved Cause.
“b) The view that one heard from some sources that the Guardianship had ended with the passing of Shoghi Effendi was completely untenable and could never be accepted from whatever source.
“c) The Universal House of Justice could not come into existence and function as an infallible body without the Guardian sitting as its ‘sacred head’ in view of the following ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS which Shoghi Effendi had so carefully pointed out in the “Dispensation” are performed by the Guardian as its President”

“1. PROVIDES THE INTERPRETIVE AUTHORITY OF THE SACRED WRITINGS.
“2. ‘INSISTS UPON A RECONSIDERATION BY THEM OF ANY ENACTMENT HE CONSCIENTIOUSLY BELIEVES TO CONFLICT WITH THE MEANING AND TO DEPART FROM THE SPIRIT OF BAHá’U’LLáH’S REVEALED UTTERANCES’
(This clearly indicates that without the guidance of the Guardian it is possible for this body to pass a law which runs counter to both the meaning and the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh’s Writings and is therefore fallible without his guidance.)
“3. DEFINES THE SPHERE OF ITS LEGISLATIVE ACTION. “4. POSSESSES THE SOLE AUTHORITY TO EXPEL A MEMBER WHO COMMITS A SIN INJURIOUS TO THE COMMON WEAL.

“d) Mason Remey was the only one who could possibly sit as President of the Universal House of Justice when it came into existence…because of his appointment by Shoghi Effendi as President of the International Bahá’í Council (the Head of its embryo)… (9 July 1960 letter, pages 1 and 2; Herald of the Covenant, Aug. 1985)

“…if the Hands had realized the significance and intent of the aforementioned message [Shoghi Effendi’s 9 January 1951 proclamation of the International Bahá’í Council] they would not have found it necessary to create a separate organization called ‘Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land’ (or ‘Custodians of the Faith’…
“…the separate organization ‘constituted’ by the Hands in their Proclamation of 25 November 1957 (a body of 9 Hands) to reside in Haifa was not the ‘NINE PERSONS’ elected from their own number spoken of in the Will and Testament (as they were selected and not elected). Therefore this body presently in Haifa- this ‘organization of the Hands of the Faith’ has no authority to exist on the basis of the Will and Testament….
“…the Will and Testament makes very clear…the Guardianship is an ‘hereditary office’, the Guardian ‘”symbolizes the hereditary principle’ in this Dispensation” and he exercises the ‘hereditary authority’. Therefore, the Guardianship can only be handed down from one Guardian to another…
“…the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh had remained INVIOLATE; the CONTINUITY of Guardianship had been preserved. Shoghi Effendi had not only appointed his successor ”during his lifetime’ but had announced it to the entire Bahá’í world…
“…the Hands are not assigned authority in the Will and Testament but only spiritual ‘obligations’ and ‘responsibilities’, serving under the direction of the living Guardian of the Faith.
“the Hands have no authority according to the Will and Testament to consult with the Universal House of Justice…
“…the Hands had interpreted the last message of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá’í world in October 1957, wherein he designated them as ‘Chief Stewards’, to confer upon them a role of collective Guardianship of the Faith and had fostered this unwarranted interpretation on the part of the mass of the believers throughout the world…” (9 July 1960 letter, p. 4 and p. 5; Herald of the Covenant, August 1985)

“…those who continue to accept the self-delegated authority and interpretation of the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land instead of the explicit provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the instructions and appointment of our first beloved Guardian, have only the following to look forward to:
“The termination of the Guardianship. (The ‘Center of the Cause’, the ‘Guardian of the Administrative Order’, ‘The Head Cornerstone of the Administrative Order’).
“The election of a so-called Universal House of Justice which will not have its sacred appointed HEAD (the Guardian) and therefore, will not be the infallible institution prescribed in the Will and Testament.
“The complete absence of a source of divine infallibility.
“The annihilation of the Bahá’í Faith and the setting up in its place of a man-made religious organization with all the attendant evils found in the past religious organizations.
“Whereas, those who accept the second beloved Guardian of the Cause of God:
“Praise Bahá’u’lláh that His Covenant has remained inviolate and the continuity of the Guardianship of His Cause has been preserved as promised. “Have turned to the ‘Center of the Cause’ and sworn fealty to him.
“Have preserved the integrity of the Bahá’í Faith for the present and future generations.” (9 July 1960 letter; Herald of the Covenant, August 1985)

“The distinguishing characteristic of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh is a Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh made with His followers to preserve and safe-guard the Faith, following His Ascension, from the divisive and baleful effect of varying interpretations which…have plagued the religions of the past and destroyed the unity of their followers. This Covenant embodied in a specific written Testament designed by Him as the Book of His Covenant (Kitáb-i-Ahd) has no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation. In this unique Document, Bahá’u’lláh conferred the mantle of authority upon His Ascension on the shoulders of His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Whom He designated as the Center of His Covenant and ‘The Most Great Branch‘…. (“The Tree of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh”; Vol. I, No. 1, Herald of the Covenant, Winter, 1973/74)

“In analogical terms, the Cause of God brought by These Manifestations may be likened to a Tree. This Tree of the Cause of God has sprung from the Ancient Root in each Dispensation. This Tree has been the Tree of Life to those who have accepted the Manifestation in every age, and therefore these believers may be considered as the branches, leaves and fruits of this Tree from which they have derived their spiritual life and sustenance. In past Dispensations, with the passage of time, this Tree has invariably fallen into a state of decay due to the blight of man-made interpretations, accretions and institutions that have sapped its vitality and corrupted its essence. Thus the followers of the Manifestations of God in each of their successive Dispensations have found themselves deprived of the pure spiritual nourishment flowing from the Ancient Root [the Manifestation of God]. Unlike the Dispensations of the past, the Tree of Bahá’u’lláh’s Cause has been forever protected from the spiritual diseases that have ultimately consumed the Tree of the Cause of God in those Dispensations. For Bahá’u’lláh made a specific, clear, and binding Covenant with His followers concerning the matter of Succession. Fidelity to this Covenant has been made identical with faithfulness to His Cause. Therefore, the analogy of the Tree of the Cause of God may be applied to the Covenant and in this case the Tree of the Cause becomes synonymous with the Tree of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh…” (“The Tree of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh”; Vol. I, No. 1, Herald of the Covenant, Winter, 1973/74)

“From the above analogy it becomes clear that through the instrumentality first of the Most Great Branch [‘Abdu’l-Bahá], and then in the continuity of the Guardianship of the Faith throughout the duration of the Bahá’í Dispensation in which these lesser or subordinate branches carry on uninterruptedly, the interpretative authority of the word of God, the Tree of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh is forever protected and shielded from man-made corruption. These Guardians of the Faith (each of whom is appointed by his predecessor in his lifetime in accordance with the explicit provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) — these offshoots of the Primal Branch of the Tree of the Covenant, as faithful ministers to this Covenant, will assure that the spiritual nourishment and sustenance that flows from the Ancient Root [Bahá’u’lláh] is safeguarded throughout the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh from the introduction of man-made substances (interpretations, institutions, etc.) such as those which have caused the decay of the Tree of the Cause of God in past dispensations.” (“Tree of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh,” Vol. I, No. 1, Herald of the Covenant, Winter, 1973/74)

“…without the living Guardian of the Faith, the interpretive authority originally invested in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant, by Bahá’u’lláh and passed on to the successive Guardians of the Faith through the instrumentality of His Will and Testament would cease to exist, thus exposing the Faith to dissension and disputes over matters of interpretation of Bahá’í Holy Writ which have so plagued the religions of the past and given rise to so much schism and bloodshed.” (Herald of the Covenant, Winter 1974/75, p. 7)

“…it should be clear to an enquirer endeavoring to determine the meaning of loyalty to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh that such loyalty requires the following from the faithful believer:
“–Acceptance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the appointed Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, the Expounder of His Book, and the sole infallible Interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s Holy Writ.
“–Acceptance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament as the sacred and immortal Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God and, as such, the divinely-conceived and perfect ‘Child of the Covenant’ and nothing less than the Purpose of Bahá’u’lláh Himself.
“–Acceptance of the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament as complementary to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas–the most Holy Book of Bahá’u’lláh–and, as such, a sacred part of the explicit Holy Text, every clause of which must remain inviolable, immutable, and incorruptible as long as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh endures.” (Herald of the Covenant, Issue #5, Nov. 1977, p. 13–reprinted 1997)

“…The faithful friends should realize that fidelity to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and to the ‘Child’ of that Covenant requires more than the acceptance of the continuity of the Guardianship and loyalty to the incumbent Guardian of the Faith. It requires nothing less than an unswerving fidelity to all of the institutions delineated in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Charter. This fidelity can only be expressed in one’s cooperation with and obedience to these institutions. And to do this, in turn, requires a complete self- effacement on the part of each individual in the Bahá’í community… (August 4, 1980 letter.)

“It has been made crystal clear…that the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is a divinely conceived Document, that it is an expression of the Will of both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and that it is a part of the ‘explicit Holy Text’ being complementary to the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Shoghi Effendi emphasizes this fact by stating that they ‘are inseparable parts of one complete unit’.’ This sacred Document can, therefore, never be altered, amended, or nullified or any of its provisions declared ‘BADA’ [God changed His mind] by any person or persons or administrative institution, including the Universal House of Justice which can only enact laws that form no part of the explicit Holy Text under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” (Commentary on the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Herald of the Covenant, January 1985, p. 14)

“The steadfastness, devotion and courage which this blessed remnant of believers have displayed for well nigh a quarter of a century in the face of the greatest violation of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh in the history of the Faith is nothing short of miraculous and is unforgettable. The exemplary and unwavering faith of these intrepid believers in the indestructibility of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and in the immortality and inviolability of its sacred Offspring–the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá– has saved the true Faith from destruction and has assured that the divinely-conceived System delineated in that Will will be preserved intact and undefiled by the hand of man for future Bahá’í generations.” (Ridván message, written April 2, 1985)

“Certainly this massive violation that has afflicted our precious Faith since the passing of Shoghi Effendi would never have taken place if the believers had been well grounded in the teachings on the Covenant and had studied the writings of Shoghi Effendi on the Covenant, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Bahá’í Administrative Order. Had they been so well grounded they would not have been deluded by self-appointed leaders into thinking God had changed His plan concerning the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh; nor would they have permitted these same leaders to flagrantly repudiate the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by destroying the major Institutions delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in this ‘Divine Charter.'” (Ridván message, written April 9, 1986)

“The Hands…[in 1957] relegated the International Bahá’í Council to an insignificant role subordinate to themselves but, curiously enough, in their announced plans for the future administration of the Faith they called for the election of a successor body to the Council to be held in 1963 which, although headless, as they would depose Mason Remey, Shoghi Effendi’s appointed President, they had the audacity to label ‘The Universal House of Justice.’ They proposed that this headless body would then take over the administration of the affairs of the Faith, and yet they had not permitted the embryonic Universal House of Justice created by Shoghi Effendi to exercise any authority whatsoever, having usurped the powers and authority that belongs solely to this body and to the Guardianship (the Hands have no administrative authority according to the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá). To this dismemberment of the major institutions delineated in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament (even the Hands, as they died out would no longer exist as only a Guardian can appoint them) the Bahá’ís, with scarcely a murmur of dissent throughout the world, blindly acceded. In this way the greatest violation of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh that the Faith has ever experienced had its fateful inception.” (Herald of the Covenant, July 1986, p. 5)

“There can be little doubt that future scholars of the Faith, who carefully study the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a spiritual eye and the writings of Shoghi Effendi in such works as “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh”, will readily perceive the falsity and deception that characterize their arguments [in the Canadian “The Power of the Covenant” compilation] attempting to justify a sans-Guardian Faith and come to realize that the God-given Institutions bequeathed to the world in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s divine Charter are inviolable, incorruptible and destined to endure in all of their perfection and glory as long as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh endures.” (Ridván letter, written on 11 April 1987)

“…new believers must be so well grounded in the Covenant and convinced of the absolute necessity of the Guardianship for the establishment of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh that they will not be affected by the fact that the vast majority of those who previously professed loyalty to the Guardianship have now settled for a corrupted system supplanting the divinely-conceived System bequeathed to us by the Master. And yet, misguided and deluded as they are, they, strangely enough, still count themselves as defenders of the Covenant, even though they have repudiated the major provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s immortal Masterpiece and divine Charter.” (Ridván message, 10 April 1989)

“…as we draw near to the 40th year of our long endeavors in defense of the mighty Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh I am overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and admiration for your unflagging perseverance, continued devotion and exemplary loyalty over these trying years in which you have had to face the overwhelming mass of violating Bahá’ís in a relentless titanic spiritual battle which, though marked of late with some remarkable successes, yet remains to be completely won. Assuredly, you the valiant champions of the Covenant will continue to wage this great spiritual battle in the years that lie ahead with the same fervent zeal, undiminished determination and unconquerable fortitude until final victory of the indestructible and resistless Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh is achieved, the survival of the sacred ‘Child of the Covenant’–the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá–is assured and the present-day flagrant violators of that Covenant are forever put to flight.” (Ridván message, 21 April 1995)

“It is…obvious that as the Guardianship of the Faith has come to an end for these sans-Guardian Bahá’ís, the ‘Center of the Cause’ identified by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as a term applying solely to the Guardian of the Cause of God is no longer applicable. They then have had to come up with a redefinition of the meaning of Covenant-breaking to accommodate this term to the man-made and disfigured administrative system they have substituted for the divinely-conceived Administrative Order delineated in the Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Accordingly, they have perverted the meaning given to Covenant-breaking by applying this term to any believer who does not believe in the termination of the Guardianship and does not pledge loyalty to their so-called Universal House of Justice as a substitute Head of the Faith and Center of the Cause, a body which, although illicitly formed, headless and therefore incomplete, …has also additionally arrogated unto itself the ‘powers,’ the ‘authority,’ the ‘rights and prerogatives’ vested by the Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá solely in the Guardian of the Faith.” (Herald of the Covenant, June 1998, p. 27)

“…there was no mention of the Guardianship in the Aqdas as this Institution was first formally established by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament…and was revealed only after His passing. Therefore, any quotation taken from the Aqdas to support the argument that it envisaged a break in the line of Guardians is clearly senseless and without any foundation whatsoever.” (Herald of the Covenant, June 1998, p. 44)

“Let us…recapitulate the acts and decisions taken by the Hands of the Cause and the illicit body of ‘Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith’…

• “The Hands of the Cause, assembled at their first Conclave in ‘Akká, after the passing of Shoghi Effendi, made their hasty, ill-considered and fateful decision that the Guardianship of the Faith had forever ended and then fallaciously interpreted Shoghi Effendi’s reference to them in the last communication he had addressed to the Bahá’í world…
• “The entire body of the Hands of the Cause decided at their first Conclave, without any authority whatsoever to do so under the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to create a body identified as the “Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith” completely outside the terms of that Will and invested this illicit body with the “functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Faith” far in excess of the “dual functions” assigned to them… in Shoghi Effendi’s last message to the Bahá’í world in October 1957…
• “The Custodians reaffirmed the above statement of the Hands that “The Custodians shall be deemed to succeed the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith” and thereby usurped the functions and role of the Guardian of the Faith which, in effect, placed this body of the Custodians, who later referred to themselves as “the supreme body in the Cause” in a position superior to the Hands who had appointed them.
• “The Custodians, endeavoring to bestow authenticity upon their body, attempted to give the impression to the believers that this body of Custodians was the body of nine Hands described in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which has been elected from their own number to work under the direction of the living Guardian at the World Center whereas they were, in fact, an appointed body who they pretended was working “In the service of the beloved Guardian” although he was no longer in this world and no longer the Guardian of the Faith.
• “The Custodians requested all National Spiritual Assemblies to send a letter to them, “recognizing us as the supreme body in the Cause” and including a sentence containing the following untruthful statement that their body had been elected and not appointed: “We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.
• “The Hands of the Cause, including the Custodians, ignoring the significance of Shoghi Effendi’s Proclamation of 9 January, 1951, and failing to realize that in this Proclamation he had actually established in the temporary name of the International Bahá’í Council, but had not established a temporary Institution…took it upon themselves on the basis of the authority they had usurped…to relegate this body to an insignificant role…
• “The Custodians, understandably shocked that the National Spiritual Assembly of France had accepted Mason Remey as the second Guardian of the Faith and, although lacking any authority under the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to dissolve a National Spiritual Assembly, dispatched one of their Hands to France, “as their representative with specific instructions to dissolve the National Assembly and call for a new election if the five (initially eight) members persisted in their dangerous and disloyal course of action.“…
• “The Hands found it necessary to give a new definition to Covenant-breaking so that they could declare a believer a Covenant-breaker who had not accepted their decision that the Guardianship had ended and had recognized Mason Remey as the second Guardian of the Faith. As the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explicitly prescribes the sole basis for declaring a believer a Covenant-breaker to be opposition and protestation “against the guardian of the Cause of God,” the Hands had to find a way to characterize acceptance of Mason Remey as opposition and protestation on the part of the believer against a decision made by Shoghi Effendi before his passing….
• “As the Hands of the Cause are nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Faith according to the explicit terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian is obviously the only one who can remove them from this station. The Hands of the Cause and specifically the so-called Custodians of the Faith, having usurped the functions of the Guardianship, now considered it within their power to expel a fellow-Hand from the Faith as well as the believers, whereas, authority to expel the believers had been solely reserved by Shoghi Effendi to himself during his ministry. As they now considered that they, and apparently the entire body of their fellow-Hands as well, were acting in the capacity of the Guardian of the Faith, they did not hesitate to announce to the Bahá’í world that the “entire body of the Hands” had now labeled Mason Remey a Covenant-breaker and had expelled him and all those who supported him from the Faith…
• “The Hands called for the premature election of their headless sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice by the National Assemblies of the Bahá’í World during Ridván 1963, referring to it in their cables in several terms such as that “EXALTED BODY,” that “SUPREME EDIFICE” and that “SUPREME LEGISLATIVE BODY,” this latter appellation being particularly inappropriate, in this case, as this disfigured body, minus the Guardian as its “sacred head,” would be assuming, perforce, in addition to legislative functions, executive functions as well, rightfully exercised only by the living Guardian of the Faith as the Head of the Faith and the “Center of the Cause” under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
• “Coincident with the election of the so-called Universal House of Justice and their presumed assumption of the functions that had been performed by the Custodians since the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the termination of the ministry of the Custodians was announced’this body that had been hailed by one National Spiritual Assembly less than six years earlier, as “the Most Supreme Body in the Bahá’í World Faith” and by another Assembly as “the supreme body in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.” However, unwilling to surrender completely their control and direction of the affairs of the Faith, these former Custodians were able to convince the newly-formed illicit “Universal House of Justice” that there was still the necessity for five Hands to reside in the Holy Land who, acting as a quasi-Custodial body (my terminology) would continue to identify themselves under the slightly modified designation of “Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land” and therefore, once again, establish another illegitimate body outside the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who would be “responsible for coordinating the international work of the institution of the Hands, [from their site in Haifa] in relation to the Continental Hands and to the Universal House of Justice,” a function, as it pertains to the coordination of the international work of the Hands, properly devolving upon a living Guardian of the Faith.”
(“The Illegitimate Reign of the ‘Custodians’ at the Bahá’í World Center That Was Never Meant to Be”, July 2000, pp. 44-47 PNBC edition)

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A Publication of the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith

Nov. 2000

P.O. Box 3201
Roswell, NM 88202-3201

obfusa@rt66.com

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— Key statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding the importance of the Lesser Covenant and the manner in which the Guardianship of the Faith is to be continued

Key Statements of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

on the Covenant

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      Upon Bahá’u’lláh’s death in 1892, His written provision for ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, His eldest son, to succeed Him as the leader of the Bahá’í Faith was, quite naturally, also accepted by those who remained faithful to His Cause. This written provision–the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant–is, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself has said, “the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh.

As the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote a Will and Testament in which he transferred the powers that were conferred upon Him by Bahá’u’lláh to Shoghi Effendi, his successor, whom he identified as the Center of the Cause and called him the “guardian of the Cause” and made it incumbent upon him to appoint his own successor. Thus, the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh for His followers is a continuing one carried through a line of divinely-guided Guardians of the Faith. Among the many statements made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarding the Covenant and its operation are the following:

ABOUT THE COVENANT

“By this appointment and provision [of an appointed Center] He [Bahá’u’lláh] has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief. To insure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the peoples of the world including the Interpreter and Explainer of His teachings so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine words. The Book of the Covenant or Testament of Bahá’u’lláh is the means of preventing such a possibility, for whosoever shall speak from the authority of himself alone shall be degraded.”

“…in this Dispensation of the Blessed Beauty [Bahá’u’lláh] among its distinctions is that He did not leave people in perplexity. He entered into a Covenant and Testament with the people. He appointed a Center of the Covenant.”

“Today, the most important affair is firmness in the Covenant, because firmness in the Covenant wards off differences.”

“…we must all turn our faces to the appointed Center in order that Bahá’í unity might be preserved; otherwise in one year the Bahá’ís would be divided into a thousand sects.”

“…the power of the Covenant will protect the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh from the doubts of the people of error.”

“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.”

“Had the Covenant not come to pass, had it not been revealed from the Supreme Pen [Bahá’u’lláh], and had not the Book of the Covenant, like unto lthe rays of the Sun of Reality, illumined the world, the forces of the Cause of God would have been utterly scattered…”

“Misunderstanding cannot be eliminated by any power save that of the Covenant…”

THE MANNER IN WHICH THE COVENANT CONTINUES FROM GUARDIAN TO GUARDIAN (AS PROVIDED BY ‘ABDU’L-BAHá’S WILL AND TESTAMENT)

“He [the Guardian] is the expounder of the words of God…”

“It is incumbent upon the guardian of the Cause of god to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing.”

“…should the first-born of the guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:–“The child is the secret essence of its sire,”…and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.”

THE SPHERE AND POWERS OF THE GUARDIAN AS GIVEN IN ‘ABDU’L-BAHá’S WILL

“Unto this body [the Universal House of Justice] all things must be referred. It enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body.”

“Should any of the members [of the Universal House] commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him…”

“It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice…to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One, will make a breach in the Cause of God, will subvert His word and will become a manifestation of the Center of Sedition.”

“This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God. He must continually urge them to strive and endeavor to the utmost of their ability to diffuse the sweet savors of God, and to guide all the peoples of the world, for it is the light of Divine Guidance that causeth all the universe to be illumined.”

“The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him, though He, the True One and His servants have been at all times independent of all created things, and God verily is the All-Possessing, exalted above the need of any gift from His Creatures. This fixed money offering, however, causeth the people to become firm and steadfast and draweth Divine increase upon them. It is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God…

— Some Basic Facts Related To The Bahá’í Covenant

SOME BASIC FACTS RELATED

TO THE BAHá’í COVENANT

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    Those who come into contact with Bahá’ís will find that all of them, regardless of the name those believers go by (e.g., Orthodox Bahá’ís), will make reference to the Bahá’í Covenant, and if they are asked, all of them, without exception, will maintain that they are faithful to the Covenant. Unfortunately, what has happened following the death of the first Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, in 1957 is that the organization representing most of the believers changed the definition of the Covenant. A clear example of the way in which the changed definition was applied by the heterodox Bahá’í (i.e., sans-Guardian) organization can be seen in the following descriptions by John Ferraby in different editions of his book All Things Made New. The earlier edition was printed in 1957 prior to Shoghi Effendi’s death; the later edition was printed in 1975.

The description BEFORE the passing of Shoghi Effendi read:

“The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh has already given to mankind ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Centre of the       Covenant, and [through Him] Shoghi Effendi, the first Guardian of the Cause of God, and       has provided for other Guardians to follow” [for the duration of the Bahá’í Dispensation].       (Page 247 — 1957 edition)

The revised description AFTER the passing of Shoghi Effendi reads:

“The power of the Covenant has already brought into being the Bahá’í Administrative Order       whose yearly growth it sustains; it has enabled the Cause of God to overcome every       obstacle…” (p. 148, 1975 edition)

“Although there could have been a series of Guardians, there is nowhere in the writings any       promise or guarantee that the line of Guardians would not be broken but would endure       forever. When Shoghi Effendi passed on, the conditions laid down by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will       and Testament for further succession could not be fulfilled. (Page 246 of later edition.)

CHANGES IN THE MANNER IN WHICH COVENANT-BREAKERS ARE IDENTIFIED:

With the change in description came a change in the perception of those who would be       classified as Covenant-breakers. In Ferraby’s earlier edition the perception is as follows:

BEFORE Shoghi Effendi’s passing:

“These Covenant-breakers profess to accept the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh but they turn away       from the Centre of the Cause–in the day of the Centre of the Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and in our       day, the Guardian–and thereby they deny what they profess to accept.” (Page 251 of 1957       edition — Emphasis added.)

AFTER Shoghi Effendi’s passing:

“These Covenant-breakers profess to accept the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh but they turn away       from the central authority in the Cause [i.e., an authority outside the Guardianship] to which       all must turn and thereby they deny what they profess to accept.” (Page 252 of 1975 edition       –Emphasis added.)

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    These changes in perspective for the majority of the believers are now but a few of the basic facts related to the Bahá’í Covenant. To identify all the facts regarding the Covenant would require at least a book, and probably more. Thus, what we will present here will be only a few more of those facts that Orthodox Bahá’ís deem important and which highlight the reasons why we call ourselves Orthodox Bahá’ís–believers who uphold the fundamental teachings of the Cause and the Bahá’í Administrative Order as delineated in the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l- Bahá.

FACT: All Bahá’ís agree that Shoghi Effendi characterized the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l- Bahá as the “Charter of the New World Order” and “the indissoluble link which the mind of Him Who is the Mystery of God [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] has conceived in order to insure the continuity of the three ages that constitute the component parts of the Bahá’í Dispensation.” (The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 143-144, Third Printing, 1955.)

FACT: All Bahá’ís acknowledge that Shoghi Effendi said of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Bahá’u’lláh’s Most Holy Book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, that “they are not only complementary, but that they mutually confirm one another, and are inseparable parts of one complete unit. (The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 4. — Emphasis added.)

FACT: All Bahá’ís affirm that Shoghi Effendi, on page 213 of his history of the Bahá’í Faith, God Passes By, (fourth printing, 1957), makes the following reference with regard to the Kitáb-i- Aqdas: “this ‘Most Holy Book,’ whose provisions must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years.”

FACT: Bahá’ís will confirm that as Shoghi Effendi had characterized the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to be the “Charter of the New World Order” (see the earlier reference), he, likewise, on page 214 of God Passes By characterizes the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as “this Charter of the future world civilization…”, showing that the two Documents are identified with one another and constitute the explicit Holy Text.

FACT: The qualifications for anyone who would identify himself or herself as a Bahá’í include “loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sacred Will.”

FACT: The Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the Faith: “By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body.”

FACT: In 1963 the majority body of the Bahá’ís of the world formed an institution they called a Universal House of Justice that was then–and still is–without the Guardian as its head and is, therefore, an incomplete organism.

FACT: The sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice, though denying that it would ever infringe upon the domain of the Guardian of the Cause, has taken control of the Huquq, the fixed money offering, that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will says is to be “offered through the guardian.”

FACT: The Will states that the Guardian is to nominate and appoint Hands of the Cause who are to be “under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God.”

FACT: The sans-Guardian UHJ, through the device of creating a new institution in 1968 outside the provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá that it called the Continental Boards of Counselors, claimed thereby to develop “the institution of the Hands of the Cause with a view to extension into the future of its appointed functions of protection and propagation” but identified these Hands by another name and made them subservient to their sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice.

FACT: As noted in other articles on this web site and that of the third Guardian, Orthodox Bahá’ís maintain that in 1951 Shoghi Effendi appointed Mason Remey to be the second Guardian when he made him the head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice.

FACT: Orthodox Bahá’ís believe Mason Remey duly appointed Joel B. Marangella as his successor, thus perpetuating the central institution of the Covenant, the continuing line of living Guardians of the Faith as required under the provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l- Bahá.

FACT: There are now at least two organizations of believers who call themselves Bahá’ís but who have differing views on the essentials of the Bahá’í Covenant — the majority body that contends the Guardianship continues only in the written interpretations of Shoghi Effendi, and the Orthodox Bahá’ís who believe in the necessity of a continuing line of living Guardians.

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    These are but a few of the basic facts that relate to the Bahá’í Covenant. For additional details inquirers are especially encouraged to read the entire Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi’s “Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh.” Furthermore, the articles on this web site and on that of the third Guardian will provide additional details concerning the facts that are given in this article. We welcome your investigation of all the facts that pertain to the Bahá’í Covenant.

— The Tree of the Covenant of Bahá‘u’lláh by Joel B. Marangella, third Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith

THE TREE OF THE COVENANT

OF BAHá’U’ LLáH

by Joel B. Marangella, third Guardian of the Baha’i Faith

       The world’s extant religions have without exception fallen prey to sectarianism and schism that have preoccupied and divided their followers to such an extent that the true spirit of the Teachings of the Authors of their respective Revelations has been so obscured that the spiritual effect which these Teachings have had on the hearts of men has been progressively weakened. Sectarianism and schism have stemmed from differences over interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and the introduction into the original Teachings of man-made dogmas and rituals. Had the Founders of the past great religions made specific provisions concerning the matter of succession; that is, had they formally designated a successor or established a system whereby a successor or series of successors would have been endowed with unequivocal authority to interpret Holy Writ, there would have been no basis for the divisive interpretations that have sundered these Faiths. Even in early Christendom, the institution of the Papacy and hierarchy of the Church had as the sole basis for its authority their interpretation of the meaning of a verbal statement that Christ had made to His Apostle, Peter. While this authority remained unchallenged for centuries during which time the Church remained united, it was ultimately challenged by the Protestant movement with the result that today Christianity finds itself divided into hundreds of sects.

The distinguishing characteristic of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh is a Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh made with His followers to preserve and safe-guard the Faith, following His Ascension, from the divisive and baleful effect of varying interpretations which, as discussed above, have plagued the religions of the past and destroyed the unity of their followers. This Covenant embodied in a specific written Testament designated by Him as the Book of His (Covenant (Kitáb-i-‘Ahd) has no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation In this unique Document, Bahá’u’lláh conferred the mantle of authority upon His Ascension on the shoulders of His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Whom He designated as the Center of His Covenant and “The Most Great Branch“. Further in the Most Holy Book of His Revelation (Kitáb-i-Aqdas) He proclaimed: “When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your Faces towards Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.” Lest there be any misunderstanding as to the intent of the above quoted passage, Bahá’u’lláh clarified it in the Book of His Covenant in these Words: “The object of this sacred verse is none other except the most Mighty Branch (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)“. Again in His Tablet of the Branch (Suríy-i- Gh usn). Bahá’u’lláh declares: “There hath branched from the Sadratu’l-Muntahá (a reference to the Manifestation) this sacred and glorious Being, this Branch of Holiness.” And Bahá’u’lláh declares in this same Tablet: ” Verily the Limb of the Law of God hath sprung forth from this Root which God hath firmly implanted in the Ground of His Will and whose Branch hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation.

The first Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith in his work entitled The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh describes the station of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the following terms: “He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá’í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá’í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God.

The Ancient Root referred to in the above quoted passages is the Manifestation of God in this Dispensation, Bahá’u’lláh. This Root is ancient for it applies to all of the Manifestations or Prophets of God Who have been appointed by Him down through the ages to be His chosen Intermediary or Mouthpiece, and Who have revealed to mankind those Laws and Teachings requisite to its needs at the time. According to the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh all of these Prophets are seated upon the same throne and voice the one eternal Word of God. Therefore, in reality, They are One. The only difference between these divine Luminaries has been in the measure of God’s Revelation They have imparted to mankind in accordance with His Will and in the differing social Laws They have prescribed based on the exigencies of the time.

In analogical terms, the Cause of God brought by These Manifestations may be likened to a Tree. This Tree of the Cause of God has sprung from the Ancient Root in each Dispensation. This Tree has been the Tree of Life to those who have accepted the Manifestation in every age, and therefore these believers may be considered as the branches, leaves and fruits of this Tree from which they have derived their spiritual life and sustenance. In past Dispensations, with the passage of time, this Tree has invariably fallen into a state of decay due to the blight of man-made interpretations, accretions and institutions that have sapped its vitality and corrupted its essence. Thus the followers of the Manifestations of God in each of their successive Dispensations have found themselves deprived of the pure spiritual nourishment flowing from the Ancient Root. Unlike the Dispensations of the past, the Tree of Bahá’u’lláh’s Cause has been forever protected from the spiritual diseases that have ultimately consumed the Tree of the Cause of God in those Dispensations. For Bahá’u’lláh made a specific, clear, and binding Covenant with His followers concerning the matter of Succession. Fidelity to this Covenant has been made identical with faithfulness to His Cause. Therefore, the analogy of the Tree of the Cause of God may be applied to the Covenant and in this case the Tree of the Cause becomes synonymous with the Tree of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh (the student will find many references to the Tree of the Covenant in the Bahá’í Writings). With this understanding of the significance of the Tree of the Covenant, such terms as the “Most Great Branch ” and the “Limb of the Law of God“, with which Bahá’u’lláh has designated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, now become clear and meaningful. If we consider the spiritual relationships that exist between the several parts of this Tree of the Covenant, we find it unlike any Tree that has existed in past Dispensations. Of this unique and wonderful Tree, Bahá’u’lláh is the Ancient Root from which has sprung the Primal Branch or Greatest Branch; that is His appointed Successor and the Center of His Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá “a Branch that hath been so uplifted as to encompass the whole of creation” and the “Most Mighty Branch of God.” The Guardians of the Faith, who have been endowed with the same interpretive authority as had been vested in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in accordance with the explicit provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, may be regarded (and, in fact, are so designated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) as the youthful branches or twigs which are the offshoots of the Primal Branch while the mass of faithful believers are the leaves and fruits of this glorious Tree.

From the above analogy it becomes clear that through the instrumentality first of the Most Great Branch, and then in the continuity of the Guardianship of the Faith throughout the duration of the Bahá’í Dispensation in which these lesser or subordinate branches carry on uninterruptedly, the interpretive authority of the Word of God, the Tree of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh is forever protected and shielded from man-made corruption. These Guardians of the Faith (each of whom is appointed by his predecessor in his lifetime in accordance with the explicit provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá1) — these offshoots of the Primal Branch of the Tree of the Covenant, as faithful ministers to this Covenant, will assure that the spiritual nourishment and sustenance that flows from the Ancient Root is safeguarded throughout the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh from the introduction of man-made substances (interpretations, institutions, etc.) such as those which have caused the decay of the Tree of the Cause of God in past Dispensations. It may now be understood why those professed believers who cease to be faithful to the Covenant (for example: rebel against the Guardian of the Faith), cut themselves off from this Tree and become fallen leaves whose inevitable fate is to spiritually wither and die.

Already, in the short and turbulent history of the Faith there have been many instances of ambitious, proud, or self-seeking individuals who have become unfaithful to the Covenant and who have made efforts to put an axe, so to speak, to the Tree of the Covenant. These violators of the Covenant have invariably failed. The greatest and most flagrant example of violation of the Covenant in the history of the Faith took place but a few years ago, and it dealt the Faith an almost mortal blow. It would have succeeded in destroying completely the Tree of the Covenant had it not been for the protection vouchsafed the Faith in the Institution of the Guardianship. This massive violation, from which the Faith still suffers sorely today, struck the Bahá’í world suddenly and unexpectedly.

It had its genesis in the events surrounding the passing in 1957 of the first Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani. During his lifetime the believers had espoused their fidelity to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and to the “Child of that Covenant” – the Will and Testament statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Largely through the copious writings of Shoghi Effendi, they had come to understand and had avowed their belief in the absolute essentiality of the guardianship of the Faith. Yet, when they were faced with the first great test of their faith in the Covenant they were found wanting, quickly renounced their beliefs and were blindly led astray from the Covenant. Contributing to their downfall, as it is viewed in retrospect, is the fact that the mass of believers held certain preconceived ideas and misconceptions concerning the matter of succession which were contrary to the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. But, more critically, they permitted their adulation of the widow of the first Guardian and a small band of believers who had but a few years before his passing been elevated to the highest spiritual rank in the Faith (Hands of the Cause), to blind them to the truth. These Hands of the Cause, led by the widow of the Guardian, had become intoxicated in their new found rank and the adulation of the Bahá’ís throughout the world. They instigated a rebellion against the second Guardian, labelled him an impostor, declared provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá dealing with the matter of succession null and void (a Document designated by Shoghi Effendi as supplementary to the Most Holy Book of Bahá’u’lláh – the Aqdas), arrogated unto themselves prerogatives belonging solely to the Guardian of the Faith and audaciously installed an emasculated system of Bahá’í government in place of the divinely conceived System prescribed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will. The majority of the believers throughout the Bahá’í world followed these Hands of the Cause in their violation of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. Thus these believers not only severed themselves from the Tree of the Covenant but have been working assiduously to put an axe to the Tree of the Covenant and destroy It. The fate of such believers is foretold by the prophetic Pen of Bahá’u’lláh in His Tablet titled Tablet of the Branch, in which we find these Words: “They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires and are of those who will assuredly perish.

The following Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were addressed to those who would become “Apostles of Bahá’u’lláh”:

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… Had the Covenant not come to pass, had it not      been revealed from the Supreme Pen and had not the Book of the Covenant, like unto the ray of      the Sun of Reality, illuminated the world, the forces of the Cause of God would have been utterly      scattered and certain souls who were prisoners of their own passions and lusts would have taken      into their hands an axe, cutting the root of this Blessed Tree.

The following additional extract from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is considered a fitting conclusion to this theme:

As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh – a specific teaching not given        by any of the Prophets of the past – it is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the        Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of        God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for any one to create a new sect or        faction of belief. To insure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the        people of the world including the Interpreter and Explainer of His teachings so that no one may        interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a        sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine words. The Book of the Covenant or        Testament of Bahá’u’lláh is the means of preventing such a possibility, for whosoever shall speak        from the authority of himself alone shall be degraded Be ye informed and cognizant of this.

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       1 According to the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian will appoint in his own life-time his successor. He will be the first born son if he possesses the spiritual qualifications; otherwise the Guardian will choose another who then becomes a “branch” of the Tree of the Covenant. For as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said: “The Divine Gardener cuts off the dry or weak branch from the good tree and grafts to it a branch from another tree.