— Summary of the Bahá’í Faith by the third Guardian
The Bahá’í Faith teaches that world unity is the inevitable stage towards which society has been moving in an age-long process of development from infancy to maturity; and that to guide mankind in this evolutionary process the Creator has revealed His Word and His Laws from age to age through a chosen Intermediary, a Prophet or a Manifestation of God. For the Bahá’ís these divine Intermediaries have been Mouthpieces voicing the one Word of God, adapted in each age to the particular needs of humanity at the time. The ennobling influence of this Word over the hearts and minds of men has been the true civilizer of mankind and the cause of its progress.
All of the Manifestations have prophesied the coming of the “Day of God,” a Day when mankind would be united in one Fold with one Shepherd under the Fatherhood of the one God, a Day in which God’s Kingdom would be established on earth as it is in Heaven. The Bahá’í Faith proclaims that God has fulfilled His ancient promise and that this great Day dawned with the coming of Baha’u’llah, the Promised One of all ages.
Bahá’í’s recognize BaháU’lláh as the mouthpiece of the Laws of God for this Day and the Revealer of Precepts which they believe will recreate and unite mankind spiritually and establish God’s long-promised Kingdom on earth–a world civilization, representing the culminating stage and most glorious age of mankind’s ordered life on this planet.
The Bahá’í Faith was born in Persia in the middle of the last century. Its early beginnings are marked by events reminiscent of the noblest exploits of the great religious heroes and martyrs of the past. Its early believers manifested an unsurpassed devotion and dedication, a dauntless heroism and courage and an all-consuming divine love which enabled them to sacrifice every worldly attachment and lay down their lives willingly and even eagerly in servitude to their Leader. Some 20,000 of them, men, women, and children alike, ultimately became martyrs to their Faith.
On May 23, 1844, a young man, surnamed the Bá b (the Gate), proclaimed the advent of a new Era and announced that He was the “Forerunner” of the Promised One, the One Who had been the “sole Object of all previous Revelations.”
In spite of the overwhelming forces of opposition within His native land, the Bab succeeded during His six year ministry in winning to His Cause the adherence of several thousand believers, including some of the ranking divines and scholars of Persia. His turbulent ministry ended with His martyrdom at the hands of a military firing squad in the public square of Tabriz in 1850. Although the widespread persecution and martyrdom of His followers had reduced their ranks to a remnant, the spiritual flame which the Bab had ignited in Persia could not be extinguished. This flame was destined to burn with renewed intensity with the appearance of the One foretold and heralded by the Bab.
The Promised One, the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation, was Mirza Huseyn Ali, surnamed BaháU’lláh (Glory of God), the son of a Persian nobleman. He had been, since the inception of the Bab’s ministry, one of the Bab’s staunchest and most fearless supporters. While BaháU’lláh escaped the fate which had struck down most of the Bab’s followers, He was, some three years after the Bab’s martyrdom, unjustly and arbitrarily stripped of all of His property and rights and cruelly imprisoned in a subterranean dungeon in Teheran where He lay for four months with heavy chains about His neck and His feet in stocks. While languishing in this pitch-black and loathsome pit He was transfigured when He received the first divine intimation of His future Mission. BaháU’lláh, in describing this experience, stated:
“While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning my head, I beheld a Maiden – the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord – suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men . . . . Pointing with a finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: ‘By God! This is the Best Beloved of the world, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive!’”
It was thus that God first revealed to BaháU’lláh that He was the One prophesied by the Bab and by all of the great Manifestations of the past Who would come at the “Time of the End” as the “Lord of Hosts,” the “Prince of Peace,” and the promised Messiah.
Upon His release from this tragic imprisonment, BaháU’lláh was banished to Baghdad. He dwelt in this city for ten years, interrupted by a two year sojourn in the mountainous wastes of Kurdistan where He lived completely alone. Upon His return to Baghdad from Kurdistan His fame quickly spread and soon a steady stream of visitors, including many notables and dignitaries, sought His presence. Alarmed by BaháU’lláh’s increasing popularity and fame, His enemies contrived to bring about His further banishment to Constantinople and, after a few months in this city, to Adrianople where He remained for five years. There, for the first time, He publicly proclaimed His Faith in numerous Tablets addressed to the Kings of the earth, to Christian and Muslim ecclesiastical leaders and to numerous others. BaháU’lláh in describing this period of His ministry, stated: “In those days the equivalent of all that hath been sent down aforetime unto the Prophets hath been revealed.”
The enemies of the Faith, again fearing BaháU’lláh’s growing influence, brought about His further banishment, this time to a remote and desolate place where they felt confident He would no longer be able to influence anyone, the penal colony of Akka, Palestine, where He arrived in 1868.
The initial nine years of this exile were spent in strict confinement and were marked by extreme hardships. However, He was permitted to spend the closing years of His life in relative tranquility in a residence in the vicinity of Akka.
Only one Westerner, a non-Bahá’í, held an audience with BaháU’lláh. This was the distinguished orientalist, Professor Edward G. Browne of Cambridge University, who visited Him in 1890. He described this meeting, in part, as follows:
“In the corner where the divan met the wall sat a wondrous and venerable figure. . . . The face on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow; while the deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie. No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before One who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!”
A mild dignified voice bade me be seated and then continued: “Praise be to God that thou hast attained! . . . Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile. . . . We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer-up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment. . . . That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled – what harm is there in this? . . . Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the Most Great Peace shall come.”
BaháU’lláh passed away in 1892, the majority of mankind, as yet, unaware of His Station, of His Mission and Teachings which Bahá’ís consider to be the sole prescription and lasting remedy for the spiritual ills now afflicting and dividing humanity.
In BaháU’lláh’s Testament He made a lasting Covenant with His followers, unlike any made by the former Prophets. In this Testament BaháU’lláh appointed His eldest son, Abdu’l-Bahá(Servant of Bahá), the Center of His Covenant and the sole interpreter and Exemplar of His Teachings, thus eliminating the possibility of self-appointed interpreters of His Word causing schisms in the Faith after His passing, such as those which occurred in the religions of the past with permanently divisive results.
Abdu’l-Baha had been particularly close to His Father and had shared in His sufferings from early childhood. Upon assuming the responsibilities of Head of the Faith, following His Father’s passing, He labored unremittingly for the promotion of His Cause. At an advanced age, He journeyed to Egypt and the European and North American continents where He lectured extensively in churches, synagogues, universities and before numerous and varied organizations and private gatherings. Everyone who came in contact with Him testified to the exalted character of His life, a life in which He exemplified the ideals and principles of the Bahá’í Faith. In Haifa, Palestine, which became His home, His daily visits to the homes of the sick and needy endeared Him to the populace. The assistance which, through His wise foresight, He had been able to render the residents of Haifa during the famine that accompanied the British siege of the Holy Land earned Him not only the gratitude of the people but the appreciation and official recognition of the British Government in the form of a knighthood bestowed upon Him for this service.
He passed away in Haifa in 1921. His funeral was unique in the Holy Land’s history, for members of every class, religion, and race , and representatives of the government united in paying homage to Him and eulogizing His exemplary life and service to His fellow man.
Abdu’l-Bahá’ís greatest legacy to future Bahá’í generations was His Will and Testament. The Bahá’í Administrative Order which this Will established is unique in the annals of the world’s religious systems, for its Institutions have been delineated by Abdu’l-Bahá, BaháU’lláh’s appointed Successor and Center of His Covenant, Who, in penning His immortal Handiwork, was inspired by the Manifestation of God Himself. For this reason, Bahá’ís believe that their Administrative System is divinely conceived, in contrast to the man-made administrative systems which were perforce developed by the followers of the great religions of the past in the absence of guidance on such matters from their respective Founders.
Abdu’l-Bahá’ís Will established the Institution of Guardianship as the supreme spiritual Office of the Faith and invested its successive incumbents with the exclusive right to interpret Bahá’í Holy Writ, as BaháU’lláh had conferred upon Abdu’l-Baháin His Testament. This Will conferred solely upon the Guardian of the Administrative Order the authority to serve as permanent Head of the highest legislative Council of the Faith – the Universal House of Justice. His Will assured uninterrupted continuity of the Guardianship for the duration of the Bahá’í Dispensation by making it incumbent upon each Guardian to appoint his successor during his lifetime. This appointment is considered infallible and therefore unchallengeable by all Bahá’ís faithful to the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha; and, thus, through these provisions, it is freed from man-made interpretations of the Holy Word and from the legislation by its highest legislative Body of subsidiary laws contrary to the spirit or letter of BaháU’lláh’s revealed Laws. Although Abdu’l- Bahá’ís Will conferred upon the Guardians the same right to interpret the Holy Word which BaháU’lláh’s Testament had conferred upon Abdu’l-Baha, the Guardians, the chosen ministers of the Covenant, do not occupy the same station as Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant. The Guardians are able to perform this function, yet remain completely human, infinitely inferior in rank to, and different in nature from, Abdu’l- Bahá, much less BaháU’lláh.
The Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha named His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, first Guardian of the Baha’i Faith.
During the ministry of Shoghi Effendi, the Faith was carried to more than 250 countries and territories of the world and both local and national Baha’i administrative councils multiplied. In 1951, Shoghi Effendi considered that the time had come to organize the first international Bahá’í Institutions, the Universal House of Justice, in embryonic form, with its seat at the Bahá’í World Administrative Center in Haifa, Israel. Shoghi Effendi was induced to make this decision at that time as a result of the birth, after 2000 years, of an independent nation in the Holy Land and the maturity of nine Bahá’í National Administrative Councils.
As the Head of this embryonic Universal House of Justice, Shoghi Effendi appointed Charles Mason Remey. In this manner Shoghi Effendi conferred upon Mason Remey the highest position of authority in the Faith next to himself and thus appointed his heir-apparent to the Guardianship.
In 1957 Shoghi Effendi passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. The Bahá’í s anticipated finding Shoghi Effendi’s successor named in a conventional testamentary document, although the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bahádid not specify that the Guardians should name their successors in this manner. When such a document was not found, there was general consternation within the Faith, for the Bahá’í s failed to perceive that Shoghi Effendi provided for his successor some seven years earlier when he appointed Mason Remey the President of the embryonic Universal House of Justice: the International Bahá’í Council. Failing to recognize Mason Remey’s accession to Headship of the Faith, by virtue of this appointment, many Bahá’í s lost the faith which they had professed in the indestructibility of the Covenant of BaháU’lláh and in the immortality of the provisions of Abdu’l-Bahá’ís Will and concluded that the Institution of Guardianship had come to an end. This situation continued for more than two years, during which time Mason Remey remained silent, hoping that the Bahá’ís would, of their own accord, discover the manner in which Shoghi Effendi had provided for the continuity of the Guardianship and, as a result, recognize the authority with which he had been invested by Shoghi Effendi. As this did not happen and as the Sans-Guardian doctrine promulgated by those who had lost faith in the Covenant was influencing an increasing number of Bahá’ís, Mason Remey was forced to break his silence. He issued a Proclamation in 1960, setting forth in clear and indisputable terms the basis for his accession to the Guardianship of the Faith automatically upon the death of Shoghi Effendi. Due to the effect of the Sans-Guardian doctrine throughout the Bahá’í world, Mason Remey found himself opposed by a majority of the Bahá’í national administrative bodies throughout the world. They, in turn, influenced the believers in their respective countries to reject his Guardianship. A remnant of Baha’is, however, who had remained steadfast in their faith in the Covenant and were convinced of the essentiality of the Guardianship to the continued life and protection of the Faith, welcomed the Proclamation of Mason Remey and joyfully embraced him as the second Guardian.
In spite of the fierce opposition which the Proclamation engendered and the machinations of this new generation of violators of the Covenant of BaháU’lláh, the true Faith under the hereditary Guardianship slowly began to grow and win adherence to its ranks in the four corners of the earth. The high water mark in this progress was reached with the historic announcement made by the second Guardian on 21 September 1964 of the creation of the second International Baha’i Council [and naming as its President Joel B. Marangella]. Through the means of this historic announcement, the second Guardian, similarly to the first Guardian, publicly announced to the believers the one whom he had chosen as his potential successor to Guardianship (i.e., by naming the President of the Council). But he had gone a step further than Shoghi Effendi to reinforce this appointment and to avoid any future doubt by placing in the hands of his successor-to-be well in advance of this public announcement a document written in his own hand naming him as his successor.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
In 1965 Mason Remey activated the second International Bahá’í Council and turned direction of the affairs of the Faith over to Joel Marangella. In a proclamatory letter of November 12, 1969, addressed to “the faithful supporters of the Covenant of BaháU’lláh throughout the world,” Joel Marangella explained the manner of his appointment to the Guardianship.
Since the majority of the supporters of the third Guardian were in the United States, Joel Marangella established a National Bahá’í Bureau in New York City to administer the affairs of the Faith on a provisional and limited basis. The Bureau was subsequently moved to New Mexico in 1972.
In 1978 the Bureau’s functions were assumed and expanded by the local Baha’i Council of Roswell, New Mexico, a body of nine believers which was designated by the third Guardian as the Mother Bahá’í Council of the Orthodox Bahá’í s of the United States. The Council was assigned national Bahá’í administrative jurisdiction pending the formation of a National Bahá’í Council when the Faith in the United States is sufficiently expanded.
The Mother Bahá’í Council, in addition to propagating the Faith through newspapers and magazines, has inserted open letters and appeals made by the Guardian in newspapers in the United States and abroad to convince the other Bahá’í s that Shoghi Effendi provided for the continuity of the Guardianship in complete accordance with the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bahá’í .
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Although the ranks of the faithful Bahá’í s are decimated by this present-day violation of the Covenant of BaháU’lláh, they have no doubts as to the eventual outcome. They vividly recall the repeated ordeals and trials and the recurrent internal crises, besetting this infant Cause of God since its inception, from which it invariably emerged triumphant, purified, and ultimately strengthened. They, therefore, remain supremely confident of the complete victory of the Covenant of BaháU’lláh over this violation and the onward march of the true Faith of BaháU’lláh to its promised glorious destiny.
Note: Those lines between the * * * have been supplied by the Mother Baha’i Council of the United States.
— Capsule view of the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith
The Orthodox Bahá’ís, in contrast to the other Bahá’ís, believe that the Bahá’í Administrative Order remains unchanged with all of its Institutions intact following the death of Shoghi Effendi, the first Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, in 1957. The Bahá’í Administrative Order was delineated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Son of BaháU’lláh, the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation. This Document was characterized by Shoghi Effendi as divinely-conceived, co-equal in sacredness and immutability to BaháU’lláh’s Most Holy Book–His Book of Laws–and the Charter of His World Order. In His Will, ‘Abdu’l-Baháappointed Shoghi Effendi to be the first Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith and stipulated that each successive Guardian would appoint his successor “in his own life-time.” Under the terms of this Document the Guardian is the Head of the Faith, the sole interpreter of Bahá’í Holy Writ and the “sacred head” of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the Bahá’í Administrative System.
Shoghi Effendi became Guardian in 1921 upon the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. For the next thirty years he painstakingly developed the Bahá’í Administrative Order at the local and national levels. In 1951, based on the fact that there were then “nine vigorously functioning national administrative institutions,” he deemed that the time was ripe to establish “the first embryonic International Institution.” Accordingly, he established the first International Bahá’í Council, explaining that this was a temporary title given to the embryonic Universal House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi did not assume the Presidency of this embryonic body but appointed as its President a distinguished American believer since the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Charles Mason Remey.
The International Bahá’í Council was never convened into a functioning body during the remaining five years of Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, although individual members were assigned tasks by Shoghi Effendi. Coincident with the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, Mason Remey became the functioning President of this body; and as Presidency of the Universal House of Justice and Guardianship are synonymous terms (the Guardian being the designated head or President of the Universal House of Justice), Mason Remey automatically became the second Guardian of the Faith.
The majority of the Bahá’ís refused to recognize the validity of this appointment and they declared the Guardianship terminated. Those who accepted Mason Remey as the legitimate successor of Shoghi Effendi identified themselves as Orthodox Bahá’ís.
Mason Remey elected to appoint his successor in the same manner that Shoghi Effendi had employed. He established the second International Bahá’í Council and appointed as its President, Joel Bray Marangella, also an American believer who, at the time of Mason Remey’s 1960 Proclamation, was the chairman of the French National Spiritual Assembly. (The French N.S.A. was the only national Bahá’í organization to vote acceptance of Mason Remey’s Guardianship, and though counter to all Bahá’í Administrative Procedures, the Hands of the Faith, who had usurped control of the Cause, disbanded the French Assembly and installed another assembly in its stead.) Mason Remey reinforced the appointment of Marangella to the Presidency of the second International Bahá’í Council by addressing a letter in his own hand to his designated successor, telling him to advise the Bahá’ís that he was to be the third Guardian of the Faith.
In 1965 Mason Remey activated the second International Bahá’í Council and turned direction of the affairs of the Faith over to Joel Marangella. In a letter of November 12, 1969, addressed to “the faithful supporters of the Covenant of BaháU’lláh through out the world,” Joel Marangella explained the manner of his appointment to the Guardianship.
Since the majority of the supporters of the third Guardian were in the United States, Joel Marangella established a National Bahá’í Bureau in New York City to administer the affairs of the Faith on a provisional and limited basis. The Bureau was subsequently moved to New Mexico in 1972.
In 1978 the Bureau’s functions were assumed and expanded by the local Bahá’í Council of Roswell, New Mexico, a body of nine believers which was designated by the third Guardian as the Mother Bahá’í Council of the Orthodox Bahá’ís of the United States. The Council was assigned national Bahá’í administrative jurisdiction pending the formation of a National Bahá’í Council when the Faith in the United States is sufficiently expanded.
The Mother Bahá’í Council, in addition to propagating the Faith through newspapers and magazines, has inserted open letters and appeals made by the Guardian in newspapers in the United States and abroad to inform the other Bahá’ís that Shoghi Effendi provided for the continuity of the Guardianship in complete accordance with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Council was successful in establishing the Orthodox Faith in several other countries, and was particularly successful in India, where local Councils were formed across the country and have since served to buttress the National Bahá’í Council of India, now located in Thane.
Subsequent to the development of the internet and the formation of a National Bahá’í Council, the Orthodox Bahá’ís have been able to garner attention that had hitherto been denied to them. As a consequence, the message of the continuing Guardianship has now been transmitted around the globe, and peoples of almost every land now have the opportunity to investigate for themselves — without interference from heterodox Bahá’í authorities — the documentation provided by the Orthodox Faith on its various websites. Thus, as more and more people recognize the validity of the message we are providing, the Orthodox Faith is now experiencing growth in various parts of the world. All those who have visited our websites now realize that we Orthodox Bahá’ís maintain that the sans-Guardian Bahá’ís, through their termination of the Guardianship in their administration, have made the major provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís sacred Document null and void and are thereby attempting to destroy the World Order of BaháU’lláh. On the other hand, we who are following the appointed line of Guardians of the Faith, are seeking to establish the World Order of BaháU’lláh on the same basis as delineated in the Sacred Texts of the Bahá’í Faith.
— What Is An Orthodox Bahá’í
Those who encounter the title “Orthodox Bahá’í” for the first time, especially those who are followers of the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice, may wonder why people would identify themselves as Orthodox Bahá’ís if, as ‘Abdu’l-Baháhas stated, the Bahá’í Covenant makes it “impossible for any one to create a sect or faction of belief.” Why, then, would those who identify themselves as Bahá’ís find it necessary to add the word “Orthodox”? Aren’t they, by doing so, going against the Covenant and what ‘Abdu’l-Bahásaid? Aren’t they attempting to make a schism in a Faith that carries the promise of never experiencing division? Shouldn’t they, instead, identify themselves with the majority faction of the Cause so that the Bahá’í Faith continues to convey the promise of never splintering into differing sects?
An understanding of the position of Orthodox Bahá’ís might well begin by studying carefully the complete statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from which the words “impossible for any one to create a sect or faction of belief” were taken. That statement reads as follows:
As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of BaháU’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 BaháU’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. (Emphasis added.)
Central to the issue of the safeguarding and protection of the religion of God is the individual who is appointed as the interpreter of the teachings, for, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahástates, the Covenant of BaháU’lláh includes “the Interpreter and Explainer of His teachings.” All Bahá’ís are aware that in His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá conveyed to Shoghi Effendi, the first Guardian of the Faith, that self-same interpretative authority with which BaháU’lláh had invested Him, identifying Shoghi Effendi as “the expounder of the words of God.” The Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baháalso made it “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.“
However, on the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, the world-wide community of Bahá’ís failed to recognize that the first Guardian had appointed his successor in his own life-time. Instead of recognizing and turning to Shoghi Effendi’s successor, all accepted the interim leadership of Shoghi Effendi’s appointed Hands of the Cause, even though, according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís Will, they are only to serve “under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God,” who, the Will says, “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…“
With the Hands in command of the Bahá’í Faith, the Cause of BaháU’lláh became a heterodox organization, for the administration of the Faith was no longer in line with the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Document that Shoghi Effendi has called “the Charter of the New World Order.” When the second Guardian of the Faith found it necessary to make a proclamation of his Guardianship to the Bahá’í World in order to set matters aright, the leadership of the heterodox Faith rejected him and called upon their followers to do likewise. Those who accepted Mason Remey’s claim to the Guardianship, based upon his appointment by Shoghi Effendi to be the head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice (which they maintain is synonymous with the Guardianship, since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís Will calls for the Guardian to be the “sacred head” of that institution), first called themselves “Bahá’ís Under the Hereditary Guardianship” but eventually identified themselves as “Orthodox Bahá’ís” because they ascribe to all the basic tenets of the Faith.
In the early 70’s their beliefs were set forth by Joel B. Marangella, the third Guardian, as follows:
STATEMENT OF BELIEFS OF THE ORTHODOX Bahá’íS
UNDER THE LIVING GUARDIANSHIP
- The Bab was the Herald of the Revelation of BaháU’lláh and an independent Manifestation of God in His own right.
- BaháU’lláh is the Universal Manifestation of God for this Day and the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation. His Laws and Teachings embodied in His written Works are unreservedly accepted as the revealed Word of God.
- BaháU’lláh made a binding and indestructible Covenant with His followers in a written Will and Testament (Kit?b-i-Ahd), also designated by Him as the “Book of My Covenant“, in which they were enjoined to turn to His eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the “most great Branch“, after His ascension. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís station was further confirmed in the Tablet of the Branch (S?riy-i-Ghusn) penned by BaháU’lláh in which ‘Abdu’l-Baháwas referred to as “this sacred
and glorious Being“….”this Branch of Holiness” and the “Limb of the Law of God.” By virtue of this divine appointment, ‘Abdu’l-Baháis recognized as the Center of BaháU’lláh’s Covenant, His vicegerent on earth, the Executive of His authority, the Interpreter of His mind, the Focal Point of His unerring guidance, the Exemplar of His Faith and the Architect of His World Order.
- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís greatest legacy to posterity and the brightest emanation of His mind was His Will and Testament, the “Child of the Covenant” and Charter of the Administrative Order of BaháU’lláh — “the mightiest instrument forged to insure the continuity of the three ages which constitute the component parts of His Father’s Dispensation.” This immortal Document is considered supplementary to the Most Holy Book revealed by BaháU’lláh (the Kit?b-i-Aqdas) and as such constitutes a part of the explicit Holy Text, inviolate and never to be abrogated or altered in any way during the Dispensation of BaháU’lláh.
- The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháestablished the Guardianship of the Faith as the supreme Institution of the Faith for he was designated the “expounder of the words of God” and all of the believers were enjoined to show their “obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God.” This Document declared that “The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God.” The Universal House of Justice was established as the supreme legislative organ of the Administrative Order and the Guardian appointed the “sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body.” In the words of the Will and Testament: “the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established are both under the care and protection of the Abh? Beauty and under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One.“
- The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháconfers sole authority upon the Guardian of the Faith to appoint his successor. For this reason, it is an hereditary office and while the Will states that the Guardian will appoint his first born son if he possesses the spiritual prerequisites, in the event that he does not, he is authorized to appoint another individual. This appointment must be made by the Guardian during his lifetime and announced to the
believers. Thus, the continuity of the Guardianship is preserved in an unbroken chain of Guardians, each appointed by his predecessor in office throughout the duration of the Dispensation of BaháU’lláh.
- The first Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, prior to his passing, appointed Charles Mason Remey the President of the first embryonic Universal House of Justice (titled in this embryonic stage as the International Bahá’í Council), thus designating his successor, as Presidency of the universal House of Justice and Guardianship of the Faith are synonymous. Upon the passing of Shoghi Effendi in November 1957, this embryonic Institution came into active life and Charles Mason Remey as its Head became the second Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.
- The second Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, Charles Mason Remey, appointed Joel B. Marangella President of the second International Bahá’í Council of 21 September 1964, a body that was activated and brought into functioning life in October 1965 with an announcement of same appearing in the official publication of the Bahá’ís under the Guardianship at the time (The Glad Tidings). Additionally, the second Guardian confirmed his appointment of Joel B. Marangella as the third Guardian in a hand-written letter under day of 5 December 1961 and directed him to tell the Bahá’í world of this appointment as a time to be decided by him. The third Guardian of the
Faith assumed his responsibilities as a result of a proclamatory letter sent to the Bahá’ís under the Guardianship on 12 November 1969.
- Avowed Bahá’ís who espouse views and doctrines at variance with the above statement are not orthodox Bahá’ís and have placed themselves outside the true Faith.
From the preceding, then, it should be evident that those who call themselves Orthodox Bahá’ís are doing so only as a temporary measure until such time as all who are followers of BaháU’lláh recognize that the Covenant makes essential the presence of a living Guardian within the Cause. Thus, those believers who are at present denying the continuing Guardianship of the Faith have placed themselves outside the Faith so that it is they (not the Orthodox Bahá’ís), who–whether aware of their course of action or not–are actually attempting to create a schism in the Faith.
Shoghi Effendi pointed out that in the spiritual realm, men “have reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e., the Guardians’) guided directly by the Bab and BaháU’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 night.'” With a continuing line of living Guardians of the Faith, the Cause of BaháU’lláh will be safeguarded and protected…against differences and schisms, making it impossible for any one to create a new sect or faction of belief. This is the Covenant for those who are Orthodox Bahá’ís.
— The Overlooked Importance of Pilgrims’ Notes
When conscientious journalists are on the track of a news story and they seek to document the details of events that relate to the account that they present to their audience, they go to great lengths to obtain information that can be verified. Likewise, when properly-constituted legal authorities seek evidence that will provide a strong basis for the case upon which they are working, they energetically pursue any legal avenues available to them to ascertain the truth so as to assure that justice is achieved in the matter. In either instance, whether the investigator is a journalist or a legal official, he or she looks for corroboration of the facts. Each of them needs to have sufficient basis to establish his or her position and to clearly state that position.
In their investigation, the real seekers after truth are interested in determining the reliability of their information. Careful journalists employ a common rule of thumb for such validation: they locate three or more reliable sources who can attest to the veracity of their data. Legal authorities, of course, will seek to find as many corroborating witnesses as they can.
The point of the preceding paragraphs is to point out that active seekers of the truth place credence in the views of qualified witnesses, especially when such views are similar to the views of other qualified witnesses.
For Bahá’ís, the matter of verification is an important one. All Bahá’ís recognize that BaháU’lláh made the establishment of justice as one of His fundamental injunctions. Thus, Bahá’ís–who should also be active seekers after truth–should be concerned with verifying the positions they take with regard to matters of the Faith. The established criterion for Bahá’ís has long been the position espoused by `Abdu’l-Baháin a talk provided at the Chicago home of Mrs. Corinne True on November 1, 1912, when He stated: “If any soul wishes to say a word, they will ask Him: ‘Is this a word of your own or from the Center of the Covenant? If you have a certificate from the Center of the Covenant, show it. Where is the letter from Him? Where is His signature?’ If he can produce it, they will accept it. If he has not that in his hand, they say: ‘We cannot accept this because this is from you and returns to you….You will have to advance a proof….'”
On the basis of that and similar statements, Bahá’ís believe that for a statement to be considered as reliable it must have appeared in an authorized text produced either by one of the Central Figures of the Faith or by the beloved first Guardian. Otherwise, most Bahá’ís would contend that the statement should be discounted. The statement may be of interest, they would agree, but it is not to be used to support a position that one takes with regard to reality or to the truth.
By taking this stance, Bahá’ís have placed major limitations onto the perspectives which are theirs. And such is especially true with regard to their use of pilgrims’ notes–the papers that individuals who visited with Shoghi Effendi in the Holy Land have written about their visits with him and which often contain quotations or statements attributed to the beloved first Guardian. Therefore, what Bahá’ís tend to overlook in these pilgrim notes is the support that these notes provide for positions that the beloved first Guardian expressed in his authorized writings.
Certainly such a contention can be made with regard to the beloved first Guardian’s views that pertain to a world-wide cataclysm, for pilgrim’s notes from many pilgrims tell of the first Guardian’s repeated assertions that the world will undergo a catastrophe of undreamt of proportions. (It is a catastrophe that has yet to occur but which is described in Shoghi Effendi’s authorized writings.)
Similarly, pilgrim’s notes from over the years lend much supporting strength to Shoghi Effendi’s authorized writings attesting to the essentiality of the Guardianship of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi’s authorized writings do not imply that he would be the only Guardian of the Faith. Indeed, his writings refer to future Guardians, and he states in his Dispensation that if the World Order of BaháU’lláh should find itself divorced from the institution of the Guardianship, that Order “would be mutilated.” The implications of his statements in the Dispensation are clear that the Guardianship of the Faith is an integral institution to the Administrative Order of BaháU’lláh. And when he wrote about the construction of the International Bahá’í Archives building on Mt. Carmel in November of 1954, saying that it would subsequently be accompanied by “the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice,” those reading that message knew that Shoghi Effendi envisaged the continuation of a line of living Guardians of the Faith.
Did Shoghi Effendi, then, say something different to the pilgrims who visited him in the Holy Land? Not at all. The statements attributed to him corroborate his authorized statements, and I believe that anyone who ignores these validating statements is overlooking the importance of pilgrims’ notes. For instance, as noted in #147 of Directives from the Guardian, one finds the following:
Regarding the notes taken by pilgrims at Haifa. The Guardian has stated that he is unwilling to sign the notes of any pilgrim, in order that the literature consulted by the believers shall not be unduly extended… This means that the notes of pilgrims do not carry the authority resident in the Guardian’s letters written over his own signature. On the other hand, each pilgrim brings back information and suggestions of a most precious character, and it is the privilege of all the friends to share in the spiritual results of these visits. –Directives From the Guardian, page 54
See the following address:
To Ruth Moffett when she was on pilgrimage to Haifa in 1954, the Guardian said:
Pilgrim notes are very important. They should be eagerly received as they bring the Spirit of the Shrines, and the station of the Guardianship, and the first-hand impressions which the cablegrams and letters cannot convey. Of course they cannot be authoritative, as they are not written by the Master or the Guardian, but they are very important, and should be so considered.
And in another instance–see #1439 of Lights of Guidance, from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer on April 28, 1939–the view concerning pilgrims’ notes is stated as follows: “Though not strictly official, and in some instances inaccurate and misleading, these notes, as experience has shown, can be of tremendous help, guidance and inspiration to many individual believers, and their value as such should therefore be readily admitted.“
Unfortunately, most Bahá’ís today would probably maintain that pilgrims’ notes are of no value and probably should not be looked upon as supportive of the views of Shoghi Effendi, even though such views have been identified as the official position for Bahá’ís. Yet different pilgrims from visits at different times with the first Guardian of the Faith cited the Guardian’s views on the continuing Guardianship which, rather than contrasting with his authorized statements, have supported and, in some cases, extended the views that he had otherwise expressed. It is clear, for instance, that the repeated references to later Guardians years and years in the future establish the folly of the position of the Haifa-Wilmette believers which implies that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ís Will and Testament was so flawed that it was impossible for even the first Guardian to appoint his successor.
In addition, the various statements related to the fixed money offering–the Huquq–that is to be offered only through the Guardian of the Faith brings into question the illegitimate interpretation of the Hands and their sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice of a Tablet by Baha’u’llah which refers to endowments and which they maintain foreshadows the demise of the Guardianship. Such statements in the pilgrims’ notes alone make the notes that follow (and which were written by various pilgrims at different times during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi) of more than just passing interest. But the notes are equally supportive on other related issues, and they, too, should therefore be read with truth-seeking eyes.
MAXWELL NOTES – 1937
In the Maxwell notes, that were the result of Rúhíyyih Khánum and her mother’s pilgrimage to Haifa in 1937, one finds a goodly number of pertinent statements, views that dovetail with positions recorded by the first Guardian in more ‘authoritative’ places. Those statements include the following:
The Bab prophesied that His religion would spread to the whole world. One of the chief causes why this will be possible is because schism has been made impossible in the Cause due to the appointment of a successor in the “Book of the Covenant” and “Will and Testament.” Therefore there will be no opposition to its spread, such as Protestantism and Catholics, Shi’ih and Sunni.
In the Bahá’? Revelation we have the institutions and laws and succession. The Bab referred to it, but it was vague again. In the Gospel there is a reference to succession, but no administrative principles, institutions or order. In the Quran there is reference to administrative principles, laws etc., but no reference to the succession. The Babi Revelation referred to both, but vaguely.
The Bahá’í Revelation has administrative institutions established by BaháU’lláh and made clear in the Master’s Will and Testament. The Master’s Will appointed both the successor and interpreter… No other Revelation has this. Forty days after the death of Muhammad the schism occurred, the Caliph rejected Ali. The split in Christianity was not Luther, but Paul versus Peter. Decline is an inevitable result of schism. There can be no schism in this Cause; hence no decline. Differences are inevitable, but schism is impossible in the Cause. One is inevitable, the other impossible
The friends should read and study the “Will and Testament.” We are too near to it to see it in the proper light. It is like a huge edifice. We cannot yet see it in perspective. This and the Aqdas are the two chief depositories of the truths enshrined in the World Order of BaháU’lláh. There are gaps in the Aqdas which the Will fills in as if the Master and BaháU’lláh had arranged it. An example of this complimentariness between the will and the Aqdas is the Huquq. Huquq is referred to in the Aqdas, also endowments, fees, fines, inheritance, etc. BaháU’lláh specifies in the Aqdas that fines, fees, inheritance, if the heirs are dead, and endowments are all payable to the House of Justice. He establishes the house of Justice and fixes its revenues. Regarding Huquq, He does not say in the Aqdas to whom it is to be paid, neither in the Aqdas [is there] text on questions and answers. BaháU’lláh says what Huquq is, emphasizes its importance, but does not say to whom it shall be given and does not say that it goes to the House of Justice. In the Will the Master makes it clear. The ordinance of Huquq is established by BaháU’lláh in the Aqdas, but He never said whom it was to be payable to, so He left a gap which the Master, in His Will, fills. He anticipates an Institution but does not refer to what it may be anywhere. Were it not for the Will, this would be very perplexing.
“Will,” part I, page 13: referring to the Hands: they must report the delinquent member to the Guardian, [and] he puts them out. Three elements in the Will: the Guardian is the Interpreter, the International House of Justice the Legislature; the Hands propagate and teach the Cause, through research work and the example of their lives and conduct. The Administrative Order would be paralyzed if one of these institutions should cease to function.
In [the] Will and Testament of Abdul-Baháthe words “irremovable and expounder” are found, (irremovable Head of International House of Justice and expounder of teachings). The Huquq is a fixed revenue for the Guardian paid direct, and has nothing to do with the administrative funds, local, National or International.
The Guardians are the equivalent in the Bahá’í Revelation to the Imams in the Muhammadan Revelation. It is the Guardian’s responsibility to prevent the International House of Justice from abrogating any of the laws of the Aqdas.
The Master shares with the Prophet His Perfection. Shoghi Effendi shares with the Master the right of interpretation.
BaháU’lláh purposely left a gap in the Aqdas which was filled by the Master’s Will and Testament with the Guardianship. (Huquq)
There was a danger that the friends might misunderstand the Master’s Will and so the “Dispensation of BaháU’lláh” was written, his (Shoghi Effendi’s) spiritual testament in detail. He has fixed it in the relations of things to each other. We cannot go beyond what he has defined; however the second Guardian can interpret the “Dispensation” itself. He has the same promise to be the inspired interpreter. The Guardian is the interpreter, expounder of the Cause and the protector of the Cause.
The Guardian can over-rule the decision of the International House of Justice if he conscientiously feels it is not in accord with the teachings. This is the interpretive right. The second part of his work is participation in the legislative body. All endowments, international and local are to be deferred to the International House of Justice. The Guardian has no right whatsoever in these matters. He has the Huquq. Fines specified in the Aqdas and inheritance, go to the International House.
The will of the Master is like a huge edifice. We must recede from it to properly grasp its import. “Even if I had time I could not do it,” said Shoghi Effendi regarding elaborating on it. It must recede from us. The lapse of time and unfoldment of the Revelation will enable us to fully appreciate it. The words of the Guardian are as binding, have the same authority, as the words of the Bab, BaháU’lláh and the Master, but the stations are different. He considers he has written his testament, his statement, in “The Dispensation of BaháU’lláh.” What he says about the Guardianship is binding on future Guardians. The Will of the Master is a third kind of covenant. BaháU’lláh’s Will is the lesser covenant.
VALERA ALLEN: Notes taken on Dec. 15-23, 1956:
The Guardian was asked if the meaning of the verse in the Bible “the day that would not be followed by night” meant that succeeding Manifestations would not be persecuted but immediately accepted by the people. He answered, “No, there will always be evil in the world and doubtless the succeeding Manifestations would be persecuted though in a lesser degree.” The meaning of the verse was that the Guardians would be sources of guidance and protection for the Faith until the coming of the subsequent Manifestation which might not be for 6000 years although He might come any time after 1000 years depending on need.
We, [Valera Allen wrote], became slightly involved as to why the people would probably not accept the new Manifestation if they had the Guardian to guide and direct them which led to Shoghi Effendi recounting for us the functions of Guardianship. He stressed the Infallibility of the Guardian as being the essential thing that kept schisms from developing in the Faith. One could not say that he was infallible only as Interpreter of the Writings but he was infallible in anything that he stated he was infallible in. He was the only one who could know when he was guided infallibly. That was the very nature of infallibility.
Regardless of what he talked about if he gave his word as an infallible statement then it was so. If it were a suggestion he would say so. In speaking of the Guardian as the Head of the Universal House of Justice he said that the Universal House of Justice was bound to accept the Guardian’s authority if he spoke from the Station of Infallibility, because of [the] statement in the “Will and Testament of `Abdu’l- Bahá” which says: “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.” He spoke with great power and authority when he mentioned the Station of the Guardian and the functions of the Guardianship. We had the feeling that he does not think that the Americans or the peoples of the West have a true concept of the Guardianship but take it a little too lightly and taking it too lightly we have a tendency not to appreciate its true worth and the great bounty that is ours in this Day of Days. We are too close to the source to fully and rightly evaluate the tremendous dynamic power behind that personality. Just as one gazing at a spring cannot realize the power and force of the river that makes possible the running of great dynamos that send out light, heat and power to countless homes and factories and brings life giving water to vast areas. We see and love the personality of the Guardian but only vaguely sense the power at such times as these or glimpse it through the scope and compelling force of his writings.
ISOBEL SABRI, APRIL 18-28, 1957 (as cited by Susan Maneck in a posting on soc.rel.bahai of 15 October 1996):
The Guardian was asked a question concerning whether or not the next Manifestation of God would be opposed by the people of the world, as had Bahá’u’ll?h and all former Messengers of God.
[The first Guardian’s response was given in this vein]: In the future, when the next Manifestation appears, the Guardian of the Cause at that time will tell the believers who the Manifestation is and will call on them to accept Him. What is the use of the infallibility of the Guardian if he does not do this? This is one of the very important things that he will do. Opposition to the next Manifestation will thus be much less than in former times–that is to say, the area of opposition will be reduced. ‘This is the day that shall not be followed by night’ means that divine guidance will not again be withdrawn from the world. This civilization which we are beginning to build now will not decline.
MARION HOLLEY HOFMAN –1953:
The Tablet of Carmel is the Charter of the World Order of the Faith just as the Will is the Charter of the Administrative Order. We build according to the direction of these Charters. The Divine plan constitutes the 3rd Charter for the propagation of the Faith. There are three distinct processes:
1. Building the administrative Order according to the Will.
2. Propagation of the Faith according to the Divine Plan.
3. Building up the World Center according to the Tablet of Carmel.
THE NOTES OF LOROL SCHOPFLOCHER, KEITH RANSOM-KEHLER WITH CLARA DUNN AND LYLE LOVEDAY– MAY 12 AND 13, 1932.
[NOTE: On the website where these pilgrims’ notes can be found, R. Jackson Armstrong-Ingram provides an introduction, indicating that during their meeting with the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi “discussed many of the issues that he addresses in Dispensation.” As is pointed out by Jackson, “There are various points in this discussion where one can even recognize fore-echoes of parts of the letter [meaning Shoghi Effendi’s Dispensation].” These notes–almost all of which are not included here–are especially interesting for their many correlations to the Dispensation. To include them here would extend this paper far beyond its present scope.]
SHOGHI EFFENDI said:
The Bahai Revelation has two Manifestations, the BAB and BAHA’U’LLAH…[plus] ABDUL-BAHA the Perfect Examplar, the Centre of the Covenant of mankind, the true interpreter of His Words, a perfect human being. To give Abdul-Baháa station comparable to Baha’u’llah is absolute heresy.
The whole opposition of Muhammad Ali was based upon his insistence that Abdul-Bahá claimed to be the divine successor of Baha’u’llah, occupying a cognate station. Muhammad Ali declared: “Never so long as I live will I cease to agitate against this imposter who claims that before the expiration of a full thousand years to occupy the same station as Baha’u’llah.”
The misguided attitude of the frends in attempting to maintain Abdul-Baháin this station was the basis of the whole persecution by the covenant-breakers. Again and again Abdul-Baháwrote disclaiming any station beyond that of examplar, interpreter and Centre of the Covenant, but Mohammed Ali said “this was only a blind, that while openly stating this he was secretly encouraging his followers to manintain and accept him as the Manifestation.” Those who overestimate the station of Abdul-Baháare quite as reprehensible and have done just as much harm as those who underestimate.
Abdul-Baháis quite apart and different from anyone who has ever appeared on earth before. A perfect human being! Can you conceive a perfect human being? The phrase that best expresses Abdul-Bahá is the true exemplar, the Center of the Covenant. It is just as grave a mistake to over-estimate Abdul-Baháas to under-estimate him. Abdul-Bahá never claimed to be a Manifestation, all His life He suffered from this assumption. But we must never go to the other extreme and confuse anybody else with Him or His station.
In his response to Keith’s statement: ‘Your word is infallible when it comes to interpreting the text.’, Shoghi Effendi stated:
Yes, the GUARDIAN alone can determine whether any piece of legislation [of the Universal House of Justice] can be undertaken or whether the condition is covered in the holy text. It is promised that the Guardian is protected by God from making mistakes in these decisions. But apart from that I am like anyone else.
At another point in the notes he states:
I am a human being like you or anybody else and I have no divine station. I am under the protection of Baha’u’llah. The Master promised to protect me from error, likewise the House of Justice. No one is justified in looking upon me as other than human.
And near the close of the notes Lorol is quoted as saying, “There are those who pray to you, Shoghi Effendi,” to which the Guardian responded in the following vein:
This is absolutely heretical. Such things are not permissible. It is wrong to address me as Lord or Master, or Thee or Thine. I had to send a very abrupt cable to the friends in Bombay to prevent them from celebrating my birthday. If this starts now there will be no end to it. The first Guardian’s birthday, the first Guardian’s death, the tenth Guardian’s accession. They would have 400 Guardian’s celebrations in 365 days. Nor must they refer to me as His Holiness. These things have no place in our Faith, they savour of popishness.
BEN LEVY NOTES – 1953
The function of the Hands is to protect and propagate the Cause – its two chief functions. Now the NSAs function is also to protect and propagate the Faith – later these functions will be fully handled by the Institutions of the Hands. Like the NSAs – they will have their own boards – committees and sub-committees. They will have Institutions parallel to the present NSAs committees, etc. The Institution of the Hands and the NSA functions are complementary – not at odds with one another. The NSAs will become more and more legislative – will handle the affairs of the community – they will first legislate – then apply laws.
I asked the Guardian if the Hands of the Cause were unerring in their functions of propagation and protection of the Cause and he replied – they receive instructions from the Guardian. The Hands of the Cause and the Administrative Order complement one another. Function of the Guardian – interpretation; Hands, protect and propagate; Universal house of Justice – legislate; National SAs – administrate these laws. BaháU’lláh established the Institution of the Hands of the Cause; the Master embodied it in His Will and Testament. The machinery is established for the establishment and propagation of the Faith.
Revenues for the Guardianship and Hands – and Universal House of Justice, has been clearly established in the Aqdas. Huquk – 19% – is for the Guardian and Hands of the Cause. Fines and taxes etc. are for the Universal House of Justice.
RUTH MOFFETT – 1954
BaháU’lláh is the Founder of the Shrines on Mt. Carmel, and much more. He is the Founder of the whole set of Institutions on Mt. Carmel. He is the Founder of all the Administrative and Spiritual centers of the World Commonwealth. The Tablet of Carmel is the Charter of the World Center of the Faith. The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baháis the Charter of the Administrative Order. We will build according to the directions of this Charter and the Divine Plan, or third division, which is the Charter for the Propagation of the Faith. All these form The Charter for World Order. The Guardian spoke of the objective of the Ten Year Plan in relation to the World Center of the Faith in Israel. His first point is that the preliminary steps be taken for the construction and beautification of the Sepulcher of BaháU’lláh in Bahji; following that will be the purchase of land for the building of the Temple on Mt. Carmel. This has already been accomplished, and a pointed monument on a pedestal will be placed upon that site until it is time to erect the Temple. The names of Mason Remey, architect, and Millie Collins, donor, will be engraved upon it.
The next point was the importance of establishing an International Bahá’í World Court. This is most wonderful, for we know what the World Court of the League of Nations did during a brief period. It was very important and effective as far as it went, but not all nations were members and therefore it was not truly a World Court.
WOOLSON, GAYLE – 1956
He then referred to the four world Administrative buildings that would be constructed in Haifa, saying, the Archives Building is for preservation; the Guardianship building is for Interpretation; the Building of the Hands is for Propagation and the Building of the Universal House of Justice is for Legislation.
One of the Persian pilgrims at Haifa when I was, told me that one of the Persian men in their group had asked the Guardian about his descendants, about a son, and the Guardian “answered, Everything that is written in the Will and Testament will be fulfilled. The Bahá’ís must not be anxious about this.”
Now, clearly, if one holds to the position taken by the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice, written to an individual believer on January 23, 1980, one will not attribute much importance to the aforesaid pilgrims’ notes, for that body wrote the following at that time:
The instructions of the Master and the Guardian make it very clear that Pilgrims’ notes are hearsay and cannot claim the authority and binding power of the Sacred Text…. Moreover, the fact that the pilgrim writing of his experience is a reliable or well-known believer, or that the reported statement seems to be repeated in the notes of several pilgrims, does not in itself confer authority upon the pilgrim’s note in question.
On the other hand, if one is interested in supporting statements that are related to information to be found in authoritative texts written by the first Guardian, it is unreasonable that he or she should overlook the importance of the data to be found in the various pilgrims’ notes that have been placed on the internet and to be found at the following address:
In an article entitled “Truth Is a Linguistic Question,” appearing in the book Language and Public Policy, published by the National Council of Teachers of English in 1974, Dwight Bolinger of Harvard University wrote on page 166:
…when two parties are in communication, anything that may be used which clogs the channel, and is not the result of accident, is a lie. I am trying to paint the lie as black as I can by not requiring that it be intentional. There are consciously intentional lies, of course, but there are also lies by habit, and people who believe their own propaganda and chiefs of state who surely harbor such a concept as that of a little lie being part of a larger truth, on the analogy of War is Peace or what you don’t know won’t hurt you. So I’d rather make falsehood embrace the hidden and unconscious, as well as the barefaced and deliberate. By contrast, truth would always be prompted by the active willingness to share what we know.
So that the truth may be known, it is my contention that Bahá’ís should be willing to share what they know from whatever reasonable sources the information may come, including the pilgrims’ notes of those who met for a precious time with the first Guardian of the Faith. To do otherwise is to clog the channel of communication and to suppress what should be openly available and a part of the consciousness of all Bahá’ís.
–Frank Schlatter February 1998
— How and Why Shoghi Effendi Obscured the Appointment of his Successor and the Consequences
As early as November 1952 when this writer was on pilgrimage in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi in his remarks one evening at the dinner table alluded so clearly that his passing was not far off that his wife, Rúhíyyih Khánum, jumped up from the table and in tears rushed out of the room only to return when she had composed herself. He then made some remarks that served to allay our fears and helped not only her but all of us seated at the dinner table to put such a dire and dreadful prospect out of our minds and, apparently in her case, permanently so, as she was to later state in her book titled: The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith written about his life and ministry and published some 30 years following his passing that “I could never have survived the slightest foreknowledge of the Guardian’s death.“
Already prior to the event recounted above, Shoghi Effendi had chosen as his successor, although not recognized by the Bahá’í world, a distinguished and eminent believer who had been eulogized by ‘Abdu’l-Baháand whose multiple, unique and meritorious services for the Faith extending over a period of half a century unquestionably had been unequalled by any other male believer. As this outstanding believer, also later to be named a Hand of the Cause, was not a young man as would have been expected but one who was some 25 years older than Shoghi Effendi, he had to find a way to obscure from the Bahá’í world the identity of this successor who in spite of his advanced age, was destined to outlive him, a prospect that would definitely imply that Shoghi Effendi’s own passing would be in the near future. How then was Shoghi Effendi to make public his appointment of a successor so as to conform to the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. requiring the Guardian to appoint “in his own life-time him that shall become his successor ” while, at the same time, concealing from the believers, the knowledge that his demise was near at hand? For certainly such foreknowledge would be a shock so difficult for the believers to sustain that they would be paralyzed in their current and future work for the Faith and particularly so in their labors to achieve the challenging goals established by Shoghi Effendi for the Ten Year Global Crusade upon which the Bahá’í world was soon to embark.
Shoghi Effendi was certainly aware, as evidenced by the highly emotional reaction of Rúhíyyih Khánum to the remarks he had made at the dinner table alluding to his passing, cited above, that she was the very last person that would be able to sustain such a foreknowledge of his early passing and consequently he could never confide in her the identity of the one whom he had chosen as his successor. The fact that she could not sustain such a terrible prospect is further confirmed by her own words in her book, as quoted above .
How, therefore, could Shoghi Effendi resolve this dilemma with which he was faced, that is, the obligation to appoint his successor publicly but at the same time to make this appointment in such a way as to conceal the fact that his choice of a man much older than himself as his succesor inevitably presaged his own passing in but a few years at most? And for those of us seated around the table that evening in Haifa, additional highly significant remarks were made by him, whose significance was overlooked by us at the time, that clearly foretold even more explicitly, that his passing would take place before the expiration of the Ten Year Global Crusade projected by him to commence in 1953. (actually fulfilled by his passing in 1957)
The knowledge that the believers had of the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháduring this period in the Faith was understandably deficient as they were certainly not expecting the passing of Shoghi Effendi in the near future and, for this reason, undoubtedly had not referred to the terms of this sacred Document as they pertained to the matter of succession for some time. Indeed, their lack of knowledge of these terms became glaringly obvious after his passing, not to mention their immediate and surprising loss of faith in the sacredness, immortality and immutability of this divinely-conceived Document whose terms were subjected to false interpretations that gave rise, in turn, to erroneous beliefs that were responsible for their following so readily and blindly the lead of the Hands of the Cause in their repudiation, in effect, of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand their hasty abandonment of the Guardianship. It was obviously this very lack of knowledge and understanding by the believers of the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, of which Shoghi Effendi was undoubtedly aware, that played into his hands in devising an ingenious way to openly appoint his successor while at the same time obscuring the significance of this appointment from the believers during the remaining years of his ministry. It was erroneous beliefs such as the following which served to blind the believers from recognizing Shoghi Effendi’s successor:
That Shoghi Effendi had a son that had been raised secretly whose presence would be revealed at the appropriate time and who would inherit the Guardianship.
That his successor would be named in a testamentary document that would be opened following his passing even though the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháspecifically states that the Guardian must “appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor“
That only an Aghsan could inherit the Guardianship (the utter falsity of this belief is discussed in other writings)
The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that the Guardian of the Cause of God is the “sacred head and the distinguished member for life” of the Universal House of Justice. Therefore, Shoghi Effendi chose the instrumentality of this institution, whose “sacred head” and other members he appointed in its first stage of development and named it the International Bahá’í Council. But he brought this institution into being only as an inactively functioning embryonic body with an appointed inactively functioning embryonic head , Charles Mason Remey, and by subsequently carefully withholding this highest administrative organism of the Faith from active life during the remaining years of his ministry (going so far as to guard against this possibility by even appointing a liaison between himself and the Council) he insured that this institution would only come into actively functioning life following his passing. At such a time then, would its embryonic head emerge as the active head of what had been an embryonic and non-functioning Universal House of Justice and the active head of this Institution according to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahácould be none other than the second Guardian of the Faith.
Little wonder then that Shoghi Effendi should have issued the one and only Proclamation of his ministry (9 Jan.51) and employed the following unprecedented superlative terms in proclaiming the establishment of the International Bahá’í Council:
“this historic decision marking the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith of BaháU’lláh in the course of the last thirty years” (i.e. since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
“Hail with thankful, joyous heart at long last the constitution of the International Council which history will acclaim as the greatest event shedding lustre upon the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation. . .”
On 2 March 1951 he announced in a cablegram” to the friends of East and West” the name of the President of the International Council to be Mason Remey who, as pointed out above, upon activation of the Council could be none other than the second Guardian of the Faith.
As if to further confirm the validity of this appointment, but which all of us seated at the table that evening in the presence of Shoghi Effendi still failed to perceive, he clearly indicated to us that Mason Remey was to be the Chief Judge of the International Bahá’í Court in the second stage of the evolution of the Council, a stage which Shoghi Effendi announced on 25 April 1951 would be an “essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice” and a stage which Shoghi Effendi had set for achievement by the end of the Ten Year Global Crusade. As this International Court would exercise supreme authority over “six national Bahá’í Courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East” in their administration of the Laws of the Aqdas and such supplementary laws as might be required these courts to be established within the same time frame would inevitably be faced with questions of interpretation of the Writings which upon referral to the International Court would call into play the interpretive authority which is exercised solely by the Guardian of the Faith. Therefore, as Chief Judgeship of the International Bahá’í Court and Guardianship are synonomous terms the following conclusions become obvious, namely:
That Mason Remey as the appointed Chief Judge of this Court would be the Guardian of the Faith.
That Shoghi Effendi by setting the goal of establishing the Court prior to the expiration of the Ten Year Global Crusade was forecasting his passing no later than the termination of that Crusade (actually passing away at midpoint of that Crusade).
But let us return to 9 January 1951 at the time of the issuance of his Proclamation. Shoghi Effendi obviously realized that there would be a universal failure by the believers to perceive the tremendous significance and implications of his Proclamation establishing the embryonic Universal House of Justice and because of this he would be able to use the instrumentality of its establishment as a means to obscure the appointment of his successor. For the key to the recognition of this successor would be found in the establishment of this institution as an embryonic organism and the appointment of its embryonic Head. Indeed, as it turned out, so successful was he in obscuring the appointment of his successor in this manner that even his appointed successor, Mason Remey, failed to perceive, at the time, the connection between his appointment as the President of the embryonic Universal House of Justice and the Guardianship, not to mention the same failure on the part of the other Hands of the Cause and the believers throughout the world. It was only some two and a half years following the passing of Shoghi Effendi that his successor perceived this connection for the first time, himself (this being the reason why he had not brought to the attention of the Hands of the Cause and the believers at large the basis of his accession to the Guardianship immediately following the passing of Shoghi Effendi) And this is why Mason Remey did so for the first time in his Proclamation of Ridv?n 1960 but, tragically enough, his Proclamation was rejected and condemned by the Hands and it was never distributed to the English-speaking world much less translated into the many languages that would have been necessary for its distribution throughout the rest of the Bahá’í world. The inevitable result was that only a handful of believers were ever able to gain access to this document and judge for themselves the validity of Mason Remey’s claim to the Guardianship. Most of those who were able to do so joyfully recognized him as the second Guardian of the Faith appointed faithfully by Shoghi Effendi in complete conformity with the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
It is highly unlikely that Shoghi Effendi would have foreseen that the Hands of the Cause following his passing would prove so faithless and lose faith so quickly in the immortality and immutabiliy of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháas to hastily and shamelessly conclude that the Guardianship of the Faith had forever ended with his passing and persuade their fellow-believers to blindly accept the same conclusion. Or would he have foreseen that his momentous Proclamation of 9 January 1951 was destined to be so completely ignored following his passing that the Hands of the Cause, would not permit the International Bahá’í Council whose establishment he had acclaimed in that Proclamation in such superlative terms to assume its rightful active role as the supreme “Nascent Institution” of the Bahá’í Administrative Order. Or that, instead they would set up their own illigitimate organization completely outside the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháto exercise world-wide administrative control over the affairs of the Faith to be superseded in 1963 by the election of a deformed, headless and hence fallible so-called Universal House of Justice which they, notwithstanding the fact that it would be a headless body (i.e. without the Guardian presiding as its “sacred head”), would delude themselves into believing and pretending that it was the same infallible institution delineated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
If, in place of this woeful chain of events, the International Bahá’í Council, following the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, had been permitted to actively function, as it should have been, in its role as the supeme administrative institution of the Faith, perhaps then, not only its appointed President, but the Hands and all of the believers would have come to the immediate realization that Shoghi Effendi had, indeed, provided for his successor in this unexpected way by appointing his successor as the President – “the sacred head” – of this supreme Institution of the Administrative Order (clearly the supreme Institution, as proclaimed by Shoghi Effendi in his Proclamation, and therefore not a temporary or provisional body) and an Institution that could only be presided over by the Guardian of the Faith.
Tragically, however, following the passing of Shoghi Effendi, due to their misconceptions and misinterpretations concerning the matter of succession cited earlier, the Hands of the Cause, failed to perceive the brilliant manner in which Shoghi Effendi had appointed his successor with the following tragic results summarized below:
They lost faith (with two notable exceptions) in the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháwith respect to the matter of succession in spite of all that Shoghi Effendi had written concerning this sacred Document which he had characterized as a part of the explicit Holy Text.
They declared the Guardianship of the Faith forever ended.
They terminated the institution of the Hands of the Cause as only the Guardian can appoint them.
They set up a body of nine Hands at the World Center of the Faith in Haifa to administer the world-wide affairs of the Faith completely outside the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand in so doing completely ignored, as mentioned above, Shoghi Effendi’s establishment of the embryonic Universal House of Justice which should have assumed this role.
They further ignored the words of Shoghi Effendi in which he had stated that the establishment of an International Bahá’í Court, also mentioned above, was an “essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice” and called for the premature establishment of a sans-Guardian and hence headless and illigitmate Universal
House of Justice in 1963.
Having thus abandonned the Guardianship and entrenched themselves in a position of authority, they led their-fellow believers astray from the Covenant of BaháU’lláh by persuading the vast majority that Mason Remey was an imposter, withholding from them the opportunity to read his Proclamation for themselves, instructing them to reject him out of hand as the second Guardian of the Faith and inducing them to believe as they did, that the divinely-conceived Bahá’í Administrative Order delineated in the Will and Testament by the “master-hand of its perfect Architect ” had come to an untimely end thirty-six years after its inception, a belief which if accepted by all of the believers without question would doom to certain destruction the glorious World Order of BaháU’lláh, an Order that has been promised to endure for not less than a full thousand years.
Joel Bray Marangella
28 August 1998
— A Critique Revealing Erroneous Statements and Interpretations Pertaining to the Continuity of the Guardianship in Adib Taherzadeh‘s Book THE COVENANT OF BaháU’lláh
The author of this book has devoted thirty-six chapters, 441 pages and three appendices to the subject of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. While the first thirty-three chapters and 376 pages provide an exhaustive and well-written exposition, with a few exceptions, covering for the most part, the early history of the Faith and the various fruitless attempts to subvert the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, it will be clearly shown in this critique that the author, particularly in Chapter thirty-four, has, in an effort to prove that the Guardianship of the Faith came to an end with the passing of Shoghi Effendi, and to validate the authenticity of a man-made and sans-Guardian administrative organization that has been substituted for the divinely-conceived Administrative Order delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament, has made erroneous interpretations of this sacred and immutable Testament and utterly false statements concerning the Guardianship which will be clearly exposed and which shockingly reveal, his repudiation of the most important provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Moreover, he has also made statements that are at complete variance with the statements and writings of Shoghi Effendi, the first beloved Guardian of the Faith, concerning the continuity of the Guardianship in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and the essential and irreplaceable role of the Guardian in that “Most Great Order” as the Head of the Faith, the infallible “expounder of the words of God” and the “sacred head and the distinguished member for life of the Universal House of Justice.” For these reasons, and his rejection of the appointed successors of Shoghi Effendi, Adib Taherzadeh sadly has become a flagrant violator and an enemy of the very Covenant of which he has obviously fancied himself a leading authority, champion and defender. While this critique covers only Chapter thirty-four of his book, those readers, who have completed this review will readily perceive the obvious falsity of certain statements appearing in the remaining two chapters of his book.
It soon becomes glaringly apparent as one reads the writings of Taherzadeh in which he maintains that the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahápertaining to the matter ot succession are, in effect, no longer applicable, that he has shamefully repudiated the most important provisions of this sacred Document penned by the “master-hand of its perfect Architect, “?’Abdu’l-Baháand most significantly, in a spiritual sense, actually a jointly authored Document which, as explained by Shoghi Effendi in his work: “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh,” is to be considered “the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient,” thereby becoming the “Child of the Covenant?the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God” Furthermore, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháhas been described by Shoghi Effendi, as co-equal in its sacredness with the Most Holy Book of Bahá’u’lláh-the Kitáb-i-Aqdas-stating that these two sacred Documents “ are not only complementary but they mutually confirm one another, and are inseparable parts of one complete unit.” in consequence of which, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháis nothing less than a part of the explicit Holy Text. As Shoghi Effendi has further pointed out, these sacred Documents are “ the twin repositories of the constituent elements of that Sovereignty” “which the Baha?i teachings foreshadow.” From the foregoing, it is clear that all of the provisions of the Will and Testament, including those pertaining to the Guardianship will remain applicable and endure unaltered for not less than a full thousand years.
Not only does Taherzadeh reveal his own evident and incomprehensible loss of faith in and repudiation of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahábut, tragically enough, that of Rúhíyyih Khánum, the widow of Shoghi Effendi, as well, in quoting her words in the opening pages of chapter thirty-four contained in two cablegrams that were dispatched to the Bahá world following Shoghi Effendi?s sudden and unexpected passing in London, England. For these cablegrams reveal the surprising and almost inexplicable fact, although expressed in an indirect way by her, that she, too, believed the Guardianship of the Cause of God had come to a premature end with his passing, an institution which she had so devotedly, steadfastly and consistently supported in deed and acclaimed in word in her writings during his 36 year ministry. Proof that Rúhíyyih Khánum obviously believed that the Guardianship had ended becomes evident when one considers carefully the words of both her initial cable to the Bahá world on 4 November 1957 announcing the passing of Shoghi Effendi and the text of the cable that followed, as quoted below:
“Shoghi Effendi beloved of all hearts sacred trust given believers by Master passed away sudden heart attack in sleep following Asiatic flu. Urge believers remain steadfast cling institution Hands lovingly reared recently reinforced emphasized by beloved Guardian. Only oneness heart oneness purpose can befittingly testify loyalty all National Assemblies believers departed Guardian who sacrificed self utterly for service Faith.“
The following additional cable was dispatched by Rúhíyyih Khánum concerning funeral arrangements:
“Beloved all hearts, precious Guardian Cause of God, passed peacefully away yesterday after Asiatic flu. Appeal Hands, National Assemblies, Auxiliary Boards, shelter believers, assist meet heartrending supreme test. Funeral our beloved Guardian, Saturday, London. Hands, Assembly, Board members, invited attend. Any press release should state meeting Hands shortly Haifa will make arrangements to Bahá world regarding future plans. Urge hold
memorial meetings Saturday.” [punctuation added for clarity]
The following significant critical and disturbing facts can be gleaned from the wording of the above cables:
The believers are urged in the first cable quoted above to “cling to the institution of the Hands.” There is no mention of the believers rallying around Shoghi Effendi?s successor, even though his identity has not yet been revealed, for the believers had every reason to firmly believe that Shoghi Effendi had appointed his successor in view of the sacred obligation imposed upon him to do so under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Could there be any doubt on the part of the believers that Shoghi Effendi had discharged this responsibility with the same complete fidelity to that divinely-conceived Document that he had demonstrated throughout his ministry, for this Document delineates the irreplaceable and essential dual role that is assigned to the Guardian of the Cause of God. Indeed, it was this vital dual role that was first emphasized by the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahíyyih Kh?num, sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, following the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in her cablegram sent to the Baha?i world on the 16th of January 1922 in which she announced: ” In Will Shoghi Effendi appointed Guardian of Cause and Head of House of Justice.” And when the believers had the opportunity later to read the text of the Will and Testament for themselves they learned that in the Administrative Order outlined therein the Guardian was identified as the “Center of the Cause,” invested with the sole right of Interpreting Baha?i Holy Writ and designated as “the sacred head for life” of the Universal House of Justice. It was equally clear that this Will made it incumbent upon the Guardian to appoint his successor “in his own life-time” (i.e. not by testamentary document) thus assuring that the institution of the Guardianship would never be deprived of the presence of a living Guardian, even for an instant, throughout the entire Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh and the identity of his successor would never have to await the opening of a will.
The second cable states that the Hands assembled in Haifa “will make arrangements to the Bahá world regarding future plans.” The preparation of “future plans” is not a function assigned to the Hands of the Cause under the provisions of the ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Testament. Such plans would be formulated either by National Spiritual Assemblies for their respective countries or by Shoghi Effendi?s successor in the same manner as Shoghi Effendi had done in his assignment of tasks and goals under the two Seven Year Plans carried out by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and in the Ten-Year Global Crusade that followed in which all of the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá world were assigned specific goals in accordance with Shoghi Effendi?s faithful implementation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Tablets of the Divine Plan. The fact that no mention is made of the next Guardian performing this role further reveals that Rúhíyyih Khánum, although not revealing this belief directly, was already convinced that Shoghi Effendi, as far as she was concerned, had left no successor and, incredibly as it may seem, that she considered the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháwith respect to the matter of succession null and void only 36 years after the inception of the Administrative Order which the “master-hand of its perfect Architect” had fashioned.
How are we to account for this obvious abandonment of the Guardianship, by his widow so soon after his passing and before she and her fellow-Hands had, as announced in her cable, gathered in Haifa and determined if Shoghi Effendi had left a will appointing a successor as the believers expected, especially considering the fact that she had written works herself during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi stressing the absolute essentiality of the Guardianship to the Faith as a continuing institution? Was it because she knew there was no son to inherit the Guardianship? For unlike those believers who had speculated over the years that Shoghi Effendi had a son, secretly raised and prepared to be his successor, she was, the only one in the Bahá world at the time of Shoghi Effendi?s passing who definitely knew that there was no substance to such rumors and that there was no son to inherit the Guardianship. At the same time, she shared the knowledge with the other believers that there were no male descendants from the blood line of Bahá’u’lláh who had remained loyal to the Covenant and it was they whom most of the believers had been led to believe were the only other individuals eligible to inherit the Guardianship due to the erroneous interpretation placed on the applicable terms of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Testament, about which more will be discussed later. Or could it have been that she was convinced the Guardianship had ended because she thought that Shoghi Effendi would certainly have confided in her, as his wife, the identity of anyone whom he had chosen as a successor and, as he had not done so, there was no successor? If she had held this belief, she had failed to consider the possibility that there may have been a valid reason why Shoghi Effendi had not revealed to her openly the identity of the one whom he had chosen as his successor which would now become clear after his passing.
There was a very good reason why Shoghi Effendi could not have confided in Rúhíyyih Khánum the identity of the one whom he had chosen as his successor, for had he done so, he would have clearly revealed to her, albeit in an indirect way, that his ministry and life was destined to soon come to an end as the one whom he had appointed to succeed him “in his own life-time” some six years before his passing was a man already approaching his eighties and therefore his accession to the Guardianship at a very advanced age would of necessity have to take place in the near future (as, in fact, it did). Shoghi Effendi knew that Rúhíyyih Khánum would never be able to sustain the foreknowledge of his passing which would be imminent had he made known to her the identity of his successor nor, for that matter, would the believers throughout the world have been able to cope with this knowledge, as the prospect of his early death, if they had actually believed it was impending, would have completely paralyzed them in their work for the Faith from that time onward. Rúhíyyih Khánum, herself, confirmed this when she stated in her book titled: “The Guardian of the Bahá Faith” published in 1988: “I could never have survived the slightest foreknowledge of the Guardian?s death.“
It should be mentioned, however, that in making this statement Rúhíyyih Khánum had surprizingly forgotten that when this writer was in Haifa on pilgrimage in 1952 Shoghi Effendi had alluded so clearly at the dinner table one evening in her presence that his passing was near at hand and had stated the reason therefore so clearly, that she jumped up from the table and in tears rushed out of the room. From the foregoing, it may be seen that Shoghi Effendi was faced with the problem of appointing his successor “in his own life-time” under the terms of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Will in such a way that, although it had to be done openly, yet the appointment had to remain concealed from the believers in order to spare them the shock, trauma and consternation that would inevitably ensue if they were to realize that the one whom he had chosen as his successor clearly indicated that his passing was imminent. As his ministry drew to a close Shoghi Effendi resolved this problem so ingeniously that not only did the appointment of his successor, even though it had been made openly, remain undiscovered during the few concluding years of his ministry but unfortunately remained unperceived by all of the believers after his passing until his successor disclosed the manner in which his appointment had been effected in a Proclamation issued to the Bahá world some two and a half years after Shoghi Effendi?s passing.
Most importantly, it should be borne in mind, that the believers could not point to a single word in Shoghi Effendi?s writings that indicated anything but a continuation of the Guardianship down through the centuries to come of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. This is very evident, for example, when one reads “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh” which has been referred to as his testament as well as his other works and notably his historic messages to the Bahá world especially during the period 1950 – 1957 in which, for example, he mentioned in his message of 27 November 1954 “the construction in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship . . .” Additionally, there were the Haifa pilgrim notes of the outstandingly successful pioneer in Latin America, Gayle Woolson, in which she records that Shoghi Effendi had stated when asked by a fellow-pilgrim about a son: “Everything that is written in the Will and Testament will be fulfilled. The Bahás must not be anxious about this.“
Whatever the beliefs held by the believers throughout the world, all of us at the time of Shoghi Effendi?s passing, without exception, had unquestionably forgotten or were ignorant of the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháwhich clearly and definitely precluded the use of a will and testament not only by Shoghi Effendi but the use of such an instrument by all future Guardians, as well, in naming their successor. For the explicit terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahástate: “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 phrase “in his own life-time” being, of course, redundant if a written will, to be opened after a Guardian?s passing, had been intended by ‘Abdu’l-Baháas a will obviously can only be written in one?s life-time). A student of the Will and Testament will also note other clauses which conclusively prove that the Guardian must appoint his successor while still living in a similar manner to that employed by the ancient Kings of Israel such as King David when he publicly appointed Solomon as his successor while he was still reigning.
Forgetful or ignorant, as the case may have been, of the above provision in ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Testament, the Bahá world unfortunately universally anticipated that the question of succession would be clarified by Shoghi Effendi in a will and testament, the contents of which they expected would be revealed when the then 27 Hands of the Cause assembled in Haifa, as announced by Rúhíyyih Khánum in the cable quoted above. The Hands as well as all of the Bahás also completely ignored the fact that the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahádo not call for the convening of an assemblage of the Hands of the Cause, following the passing of a Guardian, for the purpose of opening a will left by him identifying the one whom he has appointed as his successor. The fact that no such assemblage or conclave, as they later labelled it, is called for under the terms of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Testament should have alerted the Hands to the fact that the reason why ‘Abdu’l-Baháhad never provided for such a conclave in His Will and Testament was that there was no need for such a gathering following the death of a Guardian as every Guardian-to-be under its provisions would invariably be appointed and be made known prior to the passing of his predecessor. Had this realization dawned upon them they may have decided to re-examine the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Testament and discovered that they had overlooked the clear provision in that Document which requires the Guardian to appoint his successor in his own life-time, and reached the inevitable conclusion that if Shoghi Effendi had appointed his successor during his ministry as required, and that he had obviously done so in such an indirect and veiled manner that both Rúhíyyih Khánum and the Hands, as well as all of the believers throughout the world had failed, at the time, to perceive the manner in which this appointment had been effected and the identity of his successor.
Sadly, however, it is obvious that this re-examination never took place and the Hands and all of the believers continued to hold to their false belief that a will and testament penned by Shoghi Effendi would be found. The falsity of this belief, however, should have become obvious following the results of the first conclave held by the Hands in ?Akk? only nine days following his interment when they announced to the Bahá world that their search for a will left by Shoghi Effendi had been fruitless. The persistent failure of the believers to perceive that a will would never have been the instrument used by Shoghi Effendi to appoint his successor is confirmed in Mr. Taherzadeh?s book wherein he states: “Almost the entire Bahá community expected that the Will and Testament of Shoghi Effendi would announce the appointment of a successor to himself, as the Wills of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Baháhad done” And he goes on to say that: “the Bahás of the world waited anxiously for news of this from the beloved and trusted Hands of the Cause, but when the news finally came, it was that the Guardian had left no Will”
In view of the false belief held by the entire Bahá world that Shoghi Effendi would leave a will appointing his successor it was then a shocking revelation that no will and testament had been left by Shoghi Effendi. Should the Hands and the rest of the believers have then immediately concluded that the Guardianship had come to a premature end? Did not such a hasty conclusion constitute a incomprehensible loss of faith in the sacredness, immortality and immutability of the sacred and divinely-conceived Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand result not only in their repudiation of this Document but of the writings of Shoghi Effendi, as well, who had extolled this Document as “ the Charter of the New World Order” of Bahá’u’lláh and “His greatest legacy to posterity ?” And more than this, had he not acclaimed it as the very “Child of the Covenant” and, as such, a divinely-conceived Document that should be considered, as discussed earlier, not only the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahábut that of Bahá’u’lláh, as well, and complementary to and inseparable from Bahá’u’lláh?s Most Holy Book?the Kit?b-i-Aqdas?and consequently a part of the explicit Holy Text? In the light of this knowledge, how could they have concluded that the joint Authors, in a spiritual sense, of this mighty Instrument Who, Themselves, had suffered such treachery, perfidy and infidelity at the hands of Their closest relatives, would in framing this sacred Document under divine guidance so completely ignore this past history of disloyalty as to include in Their Will a provision that would be so restrictive on the matter of succession that it would doom to certain extinction the highest institutions of the future World Order of Bahá’u’lláh? Would not the inclusion of such a restriction pertaining to the appointment of the Guardian?s successor in the Will and Testament make the continued existence of these highest institutions of “this Most Great Order” in the future centuries that lay ahead contingent upon the highly uncertain prospect that there would always be either a spiritually qualified son of the incumbent Guardian of the Faith or a descendent from the blood line of Bahá’u’lláh, who was a declared believer loyal to the Covenant and endowed with the requisite qualifications set forth in the Will, available for appointment as his successor?
Certainly, the believers could point to no evidence in the writings and cablegrams of Shoghi Effendi to indicate that he had interpreted the Will and Testament to impose such a restriction as the Hands of the Cause had placed on the appointment of his successor. Quite the contrary was the case. Knowing that there were no longer any relatives of the blood line of Bahá’u’lláh who had remained loyal to the Covenant, Shoghi Effendi?s writings and cablegrams still emphatically and repeatedly projected the existence of the institution of the Guardianship as an essential and irreplaceable institution and one of the “twin pillars” delineated in ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Will that supported the “mighty Administrative Structure” of the Faith for as long as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh endured. Could the Hands now continue to completely ignore all that Shoghi Effendi had written concerning the immutability and immortality of the Will and Testament and the future of the Guardianship or should it not have been apparent to them that their interpretation of the term “another branch” as used in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahádid not limit the Guardian?s choice of a successor, in the absence of a qualified son, to a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh, at all, but had to have another meaning which could only be a spiritual one?
Indeed, could not the Hands (with a single exception) have also perceived that to cling to the fallacious belief that Shoghi Effendi had been unable to appoint a successor, would have made him a party to the complete destruction of the very institutions he had so laboriously and faithfully reared during his ministry in conformity with the sacred Mandate of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand would have placed him in the position of refuting such announcements as the one in which he had hailed the historic achievement that had taken place “at the World Center of the Faith, where, 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” ? (30 June 52 cable to the Bahá world)
If an alternative scenario had unrolled in which the Hands had realized that they had been wrong in their belief that only a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh could inherit the Guardianship and had opened their minds to the possibility that Shoghi Effendi had been able to appoint as his successor someone during his ministry, other than a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh, who had obviously remained unrecognized, a different outcome may have resulted. They then would certainly have undertaken a careful, unbiased and thorough review of the significant acts taken and announcements made by Shoghi Effendi during his ministry with the keen anticipation of ascertaining the manner in which Shoghi Effendi had appointed his successor prior to his passing in such a way that his identity, in spite of being openly announced, as required, had been so obscured as to remain unperceived, both at the time of his appointment as well as after his death, and of hopefully discovering in this review the identity of the second Guardian. At the culmination of this review they may have surprisingly discovered that the second Guardian was actually one of their own number and in their very midst. Had they been successful in this endeavor and joyously welcomed the second Guardian, the Bahá Administrative Order would have remained intact as delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháand a substitute provisional body would never have been illicitly established to take the place of the Guardianship, a body which they formed completely outside the provisions of the Will and Testament, comprising nine of their number, whom they would label “The Custodians of the Faith” and to which they would assign direction of the affairs of the Faith pending the election of a sans-Guardian and, therefore, headless Universal House of Justice at Ridv?n 1963.
Mr. Taherzadeh does not recognize this tragic failure on the part of the Hands of the Cause, much less that of the other believers in the Bahá world, to look for Shoghi Effendi?s successor and surprisingly, as late as 1992 when he wrote his book, still continued to ignore or overlook the clear provision in ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Testament requiring the Guardian to appoint his successor “in his own life-time” and still clung to the view that only a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh could inherit the Guardianship. As a result, he attempts to justify the fact that Shoghi Effendi left no will with such explanations as it “was due to the circumstances of his ministry and of his life,” or that he “did not have any worldly possessions” or, more significantly, in the absence of a son to inherit the Guardianship, he had not been able to appoint a successor as “there was not a single Ghusn [although Shoghi Effendi does not use the word “Ghusn” anywhere in his translation of the text of the Will] who was faithful to the Cause of God” because “every one of the descendants of ‘Abdu’l-Baháhad been declared Covenant-breakers.” In this statement, Taherzadeh, reveals his continued misinterpretation of the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháwherein, in the absence of a spiritually qualified son to inherit the Guardianship, the Guardian must “choose another branch to succeed him” contending that the word “branch” (originally translated by Shoghi Effendi with a lower case “b” in the 1944 edition of the Will) limits the Guardian?s choice of a successor solely to a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh and in his misguided effort to support this false argument he changes the word “branch” to “Branch” and cites the singular form of the Persian word for Branch: “Ghusn” (although Shoghi Effendi in his writings uses the term “Aghsan,” the plural form of “Ghusn,” to refer solely to the sons of Bahá’u’lláh and not to His other relatives (as shown on page 239 of his book titled: “God Passes By”). Furthermore, in the text of the Will and Testament Shoghi Effendi translates ‘Abdu’l-Bahás reference to him as “the chosen branch” and not “The Chosen Branch” as cited by Taherzadeh which further proves that Taherzadeh has attempted to make it appear that only a relative from the blood-line of Bahá’u’lláh is eligible to inherit the Guardianship and thus place an unwarranted restriction on the Guardian?s alternative choice of a successor that is not, in fact, substantiated by the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Mr. Taherzadeh in his attempt to further justify his position that Shoghi Effendi was unable to appoint a successor incredibly points out what he considers to have been a deficiency in the Will and Testament of ?Abdu?l- Baháas he states that: “Since the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahádid not indicate the course to be taken should there be no Ghusn (Branch) to succeed Shoghi Effendi, the resolution of this question did not fall within the domain of the Guardianship; it was the prerogative of the Universal House of Justice to find a solution. This is probably the main reason why Shoghi Effendi did not make any statement about his successor.”
In considering the prerogatives of the Universal House of Justice to make a decision concerning the question of the Guardianship it would be well to reiterate that Shoghi Effendi equated the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin its sacredness and immutability with Bahá’u’lláh?s Most Holy Book, the Kit?b-i-Aqdas stating that the Aqdas and the Will and Testament are “not only complementary but they mutually confirm one another and are inseparable parts of one complete unit.” The Will and Testament, therefore, is indisputably a part of the “explicit Holy Text” whose laws and provisions are immutable and destined to endure for not less than a full thousand years? the promised duration of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. Incredibly, however, Taherzadeh and those who think like him would have the reader believe that only 36 years after the inception of the Administrative Order formally delineated in this divinely-conceived Holy Text?the Will and Testament?which Shoghi Effendi has “acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him [Bahá’u’lláh] Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient ” [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] ?its major provisions pertaining to the Guardianship has already become null and void and that because “‘Abdu’l-Bahá had not indicated the course to be taken in the event that there was no Ghusn to succeed Shoghi Effendi it was the prerogative of the Universal House of Justice to find a solution.”
It is quite unbelievable that Taherzadeh would state that ‘Abdu’l-Bahádid not foresee the possibility that there would be no Aghsan to succeed Shoghi Effendi and for this reason had not indicated the course of action to be taken in this event. Instead of questioning a lack of foresight, as he sees it, that is found in the provisions of the Will and Testament, a Document which, as already pointed out Shoghi Effendi has described as a jointly authored Testament reflecting the expressed Will of Bahá’u’lláh as much as that of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand a part of the explicit Holy Text, one would have thought that he would have questioned and reconsidered his own interpretation of the terms of the Will and Testament which he believed restricted the choice of the Guardian?s successor to an Aghsan (a term which it has been shown previously he also has misinterpreted).
As evidence of the complete falsity of Taherzadeh?s statement concerning the prerogative of the Universal House of Justice to resolve the question of the termination of the Guardianship, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahástates that this body “enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text”. . . matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book. . . and bear upon daily transactions. .” Therefore it is clear that the Universal House of Justice, much less the headless one that has now been established, has no authority to enact any ruling on the matter of succession. It is obvious, too, that once the Guardianship has been terminated, as he believes is now the case, there is no way to re-establish the Guardianship.
After recounting the “furious tempest ” of Covenant-breaking that raged throughout the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin which every believer had been “severely tested” and the similar situation that had existed following the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin which the “provisions of His Will and Testament were violated” Taherzadeh contends that “after the passing of Shoghi Effendi, however, circumstances were different.” . . . “This is because there was no Will and Testament; Shoghi Effendi had gone and left the believers on their own.” Yet, he goes on to say that “the whole Bahá community over the entire surface of the globe remained loyal to the Cause and its institutions.” He does not explain, however, how such loyalty to the three highest institutions of the Bahá Administrative Order would be maintained on a continuing basis over the future centuries to come when the Guardianship as an essential institution occupied by a living Guardian as the Head of the Faith and the sole interpreter of Bahá holy Writ would no longer be at the head of the Faith and when two of the remaining highest institutions, as delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Testament, would likewise become non-existent as future Hands could only be appointed by a living Guardian, and the Universal House of Justice would not be able to function as an infallible institution without the Guardian presiding as its “sacred head and the distinguished member for life.” Nor does he recognize the fact that such an institution minus the Guardian as its Head (as has now been established) can be anything more than an illicitly established, deformed, incomplete and fallibly functioning substitute for the divinely-ordained institution delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament.
In order to understand many of the observations and comments that follow, it is essential to quote at least a few passages from the one and only Proclamation that Shoghi Effendi issued during his ministry which at the time was not even recognized as a proclamation (and still has not been by the sans-Guardian Bahás) because it had been sent in cablegram form and even though it had opened with the words: “Proclaim to National Assemblies of East and West weighty epoch-making decision of formation of first International Bahá Council, forerunner of supreme administrative institution . . .” [i.e. Universal House of Justice] It was in this momentous Proclamation that the Hands had overlooked in their obvious failure to re-examine the communications from Shoghi Effendi that they would have found the key leading to the discovery of the identity of Shoghi Effendi?s successor. For in this Proclamation they would have noted that, among other things he enumerated, the “present adequate maturity of nine vigorously functioning national administrative institutions throughout Bahá World, combine to induce me to arrive at this historic decision marking most significant milestone in evolution of Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in course of last thirty years.” [i.e. since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. To dispel any notion that this International Council was a temporary body but, in fact, the Universal House of Justice, albeit in embryonic form, he stated: “Nascent Institution now created “. . . would assume “further functions in course of evolution of this first embryonic International Institution, marking its development into officially recognized [International]Bahá Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House of Justice . . .” and he had significantly addressed this Proclamation to the subordinate institutions of this supreme body?the National Spiritual Assemblies?throughout the world and not to the Bahá world at large as he did in many of his communications. To further stress the significance of this historic decision, a decision whose tremendous significance was, strangely enough, overlooked, not only by the Hands but by the entire body of the believers during the remaining seven years of his ministry and following his passing, Shoghi Effendi went on in this cable to express in superlative terms the importance of this decision in the following words: “Hail with thankful, joyous heart at long last the constitution of International Council which history will, acclaim as the greatest event shedding lustre upon the second epoch of Formative Age of Bahá Dispensation potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since inception of Administrative Order of Faith on morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Ascension, ranking second only to glorious immortal events associated with Ministries of Three Central Figures of Faith . . .” In the very next cable to the Bahá world that Shoghi dispatched on 2 March 1951 as a follow-up to this Proclamation he stated: “Welcome assistance of the newly-formed International Council, particularly its President, Mason Remey, and its Vice-President, Amelia Collins . . .” (emphasis added).
Teherzadeh quotes the first letter dispatched by the Hands to the Bahá world following their first conclave in ?Akk? in which is found the following excerpt: “Shoghi Effendi has laid the foundations of the world order of Bahá’u’lláh through the appointment of Hands of the Cause and likewise the appointment of the International Bahá Council, the institution destined to evolve into the Universal House of Justice.” In the paragraph that follows this quotation, however, these Hands proceed to completely ignore the establishment of the International Council and its tremendous significance, as proclaimed by Shoghi Effendi, in announcing that they “have constituted a body of nine Hands to serve at the Bahá World Center,” a body not called for in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand to which they give the name “Custodian Hands of the Faith” and to which they arrogate authority for directing the affairs of the Faith, an authority that the Will and Testament confers solely upon the Guardian of the Faith, justifying this assumption of authority on the basis that Shoghi Effendi had referred to them in the last cablegram that he had dispatched to the Bahá world one month before his passing as the “Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh?s embryonic World Commonwealth.” They failed to consider, however, that the Institution of the Hands of the Cause, now additionally identified by Shoghi Effendi as the Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh?s World Commonwealth, would in the absence of a future Guardian to appoint future Hands, faced certain extinction as the present Hands died out, and there would no longer be Hands to fulfill the role as “Chief Stewards” of Bahá’u’lláh?s future World Commonwealth” following its emergence from its embryonic state as had been obviously envisaged by Shoghi Effendi. This cablegram also provided further proof indirectly that Shoghi Effendi did not interpret the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháto limit his appointment of a successor to a male descendant of Bahá’u’lláh, as contended both by the Hands at the time and Teherzadeh in this book, as it had been known not only by Shoghi Effendi but it had been common knowledge that these descendants had long since been found wanting in their loyalty to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
Significantly, too, the Hands had overlooked the fact that, in this cablegram?which Shoghi Effendi had addressed to the Bahá world one month before his passing, he had referred to the”five Hands, [Rúhíyyih Khánum, Mason Remey, Leroy Ioas, Amelia Collins, Ugo Giachery]who in their capacity as members of the International Bahá Council, are closely associated with the rise and development of the institutions of the Faith at its World Center. . .” Why, one may well ask, did the Hands not realize it was now the International Bahá Council which had the right to exercise authority over its subordinate National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world? For, had not Shoghi Effendi acclaimed the formation of this Council as “the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith” and stated as one of the reasons for making his historic decision to “at long last” establish this Institution had been “the present adequate maturity of nine vigorously functioning national administrative institutions.” ? Therefore, the International Bahá Council?this “Nascent Institution”? was unquestionably the supreme legislative Institution in the Bahá Administrative Order, albeit in embryonic form, as, indeed, were the National Spiritual Assemblies, themselves (ultimately to be designated National Houses of Justice) and it was this International Council and not their man-made body?the so-called Custodian Hands?that the Hands had created outside the provisions of the Will and Testament that should have been permitted to exercise administrative authority over these national institutions. And this authority they had assumed in spite of the fact that the “obligations” of the Hands according to that Testament are clearly not administrative at all but are “to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things.“
Had the Hands permitted the International Bahá Council, as the embryonic Universal House of Justice to emerge from the inactive embryonic state in which it had been carefully maintained by Shoghi Effendi during his ministry and assume an active function as the supreme legislative institution of the Baha?i Administrative Order the following results may have taken place:
It may have dawned on them that as the Head of the Universal House of Justice can only be the Guardian of the Faith and as Shoghi Effendi had appointed Mason Remey as the embryonic head of this embryonic Institution he was Shoghi Effendi?s appointed successor.
They would have found further confirmation of this fact in remembering the following words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “the embryo possesses from the first all perfections . . . all the powers?but they are not visible, and become so only by degrees.”
They would have further taken note of the fact that Shoghi Effendi had never activated this Council as a functioning body during the remaining seven years of his ministry, as Rúhíyyih Khánum confirms in stating that “its members received their instructions from him individually” (cited on p. 323) And additionally he had appointed Rúhíyyih Khánum as the “chosen liaison” between himself and the Council (message of 8 March 1952) thus further precluding any semblance of the assumption of the Presidency, himself.
With the foregoing in mind, they would have come to the inescapable conclusion that Mason Remey had been the embryonic second Guardian of the Faith awaiting birth, as it were, into active life upon Shoghi Effendi?s passing.
They would then have certainly marvelled at how ingeniously Shoghi Effendi had appointed his successor “in his own life-time” as required under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin such an unanticipated manner and so contrary to their preconceived ideas that, although this appointment had actually been announced openly, it had been purposely obscured by Shoghi Effendi to preclude the consternation and turmoil that would have certainly ensued if they had realized that Shoghi Effendi?s successor was to be a man more than twenty years his senior with the frightful, unthinkable, and unbelievable implications that were to be drawn from this fact.
Shoghi Effendi?s appointment of a successor had, therefore, remained unrecognized by all of the believers, during the concluding years of Shoghi Effendi?s ministry including even Mason Remey, himself, who alone, as the new-born Guardian of the Faith, finally came to this realization more than two years following the passing of Shoghi Effendi. It was only then, for the first time, that he perceived the connection between his appointment as President of the International Bahá Council and the Guardianship and realized that Shoghi Effendi had used this means to appoint him as his successor and, for this reason, only then proclaimed it to the Bahá world at Ridv?n 1960.
In the remaining pages of this review, statements made by Adib Teherzadeh will be quoted under the heading of “A.T. STATEMENT:” followed by “COMMENT” on the part of this writer.
A.T. STATEMENT: “All the believers turned to the Hands of the Cause of God, and every national and local Spiritual Assembly declared their loyalty to that body.”
COMMENT: Keeping in mind that the Bahá Administrative bodies throughout the world had been informed by the Hands following their first conclave in ?Akk? that “no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him“, it is understandable that these Assemblies certainly considered that they had no other place to turn and consequently, prior to the receipt of the proclamation of the second Guardian at Ridv?n 1960, the above statement is true with the single notable exception of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Lucknow, India, which in a statement dispatched to Haifa, dated 18 November 1958, comprising seven remarkable paragraphs declared its unshakeable faith in the essentiality, “unique power” and the “supreme authority” of the Guardian of the Faith and “resolved that the activities of this LSA be suspended til the appointment of the next Guardian of the Faith.?” And in a final paragraph reiterated: “L.S.A. Lucknow in animated suspense til the consecration of the Guardian on His vacant throne.”
However, Taherzadeh?s statement is not true following the receipt of Mason Remey?s Proclamation at Ridv?n 1960, a copy of which the National Spiritual Assembly of France was fortunate enough to directly receive. This writer can attest to the reaction of this National Assembly upon its receipt, having been President of that body at the time. As a result of considering the completely rational and valid statements presented in Mason Remey?s momentous Proclamation, and undertaking a careful restudy of pertinent writings, followed by prayer and due consultation, that Assembly, ignoring an edict that had been dispatched by the so-called Custodian Hands in Haifa to all NSA?s to reject him out of hand, voted to recognize Mason Remey as Shoghi Effendi?s rightfully appointed successor. As for the other NSA?s throughout the world, it is not known whether any of them received a copy of the Proclamation directly but Mason Remey had addressed his Proclamation to the National Bahá Convention convened in Wilmette, Illinois at Ridv?n 1960 in anticipation that the newly elected National Spiritual Assembly of the United States would distribute his Proclamation (written, of course, in English) to all of the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world which would then, when necessary to do so, translate it in the language of their respective countries and make distribution in turn to their Local Spiritual Assemblies. As this Proclamation was never distributed by the NSA of the United States or by the so-called Custodian Hands to other NSA?s due to their rejection of Mason Remey as the second Guardian of the Faith, the Bahás at large throughout the world, with but a very few exceptions, never became apprized of the contents of Mason Remey?s Proclamation and therefore remained in complete ignorance of the explanations provided therein that completely validated his accession to the Guardianship. This situation has largely remained the same to this day, only changing recently to the extent that those comparatively few believers residing in countries where the personal ownership and use of computers has been possible and who have established links to the internet are able to read Mason Remey?s Proclamation for the first time and gain access to extensive information about the true facts concerning the continuation of the Guardianship from “Home Pages” posted on the internet in the name of the “Orthodox Bahá Faith.”
A.T. STATEMENT: The greatest achievement of the Hands in this period [1957 -1963] is that they did not deviate a hair?s breath from the teachings and guidance of Shoghi Effendi” and that “they handed over the Cause of God, pure and unadulterated, to the elected body of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 . . .
COMMENT: It should be obvious to anyone who has read the material contained in the previous pages above that nothing could be further from the truth. For it is crystal clear that not only had the Hands (with the exception of one Hand) deviated from Shoghi Effendi?s writings but they actually had repudiated, in effect, everything that he had written about the essentiality of the Guardianship and the future irreplaceable role of the Guardian in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh by their shameful abandonment of this Institution. And by what stretch of the imagination, in the light of this fact, could it be said that “they handed over the Cause of God, pure and unadulterated,” permanently mutilated as it had become, sans-Guardian, with the Institution of the Hands destined to die out and the future prospect of an illicitly established headless, deformed and fallible so-called Universal House of Justice acting as a substitute Head of the Faith?
A.T. STATEMENT: This period [from the passing of Shoghi Effendi until the election of their “Universal House of Justice” in 1963] witnessed the emergence of a new brand of Covenant-breakers, headed by Mason Remey, who had himself been appointed a Hand of the Cause of God and was one of the signatories of the first declaration of the Hands issued after the passing of Shoghi Effendi.
COMMENT: Of particular note in the above statement is Teherzadeh?s obviously purposeful omission of the fact that Mason Remey had been appointed by Shoghi Effendi not only as a Hand of the Cause (in the first contingent of twelve living Hands appointed on 24 December 1951) but more importantly had been appointed prior to that, in his historic Proclamation of 9 January 1951, as the President of the International Bahá Council?the embryonic Universal House of Justice. Although choosing to ignore the tremendous importance of Mason Remey?s appointment as the President of this Council, (not to mention its implications) he displays no appreciation whatsoever of the import of Shoghi Effendi?s Proclamation establishing an Institution acclaimed by him as “the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order” of the Faith” as discussed earlier. It should be crystal clear, in view of the forgoing, that it is not Mason Remey, the unrecognized second Guardian of the Faith, who was the Covenant-breaker but ironically enough, Adib Taherzadeh, himself, who by his abandonment of the Guardianship has demonstrated his own lack of Faith in the indestructibility of that mighty Covenant and the immortality of “the Child of the Covenant”?the divinely-conceived Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháthe immutable provisions of which pertaining to the Guardianship, he would have the reader believe, have now become null and void. What is also apparent from his statement is that the Hands and the illicitly formed Universal House of Justice have come up with a perverted definition of Covenant-breaking so as to be able to accuse as Covenant-breakers those who steadfastly support the continuity of the Guardianship in conformity with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a Document which makes it very clear that loyalty to the Covenant is defined in no other terms but an undeviating loyalty to the “Center of the Cause” who is none other than the Guardian of the Cause of God. While Shoghi Effendi retained the exclusive right during his ministry of declaring a believer a Covenant-breaker the Hands of the Cause, in addition to the Guardian, will be authorized to exercise this authority in the future, at such time as may be determined to be appropriate by a future Guardian, (e.g. when the world-wide population of Bahás has so greatly increased that it is impracticable for the Guardian alone to identify Covenant-breakers) as the Will and Testament states that: “so soon as they [the Hands] find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God” they must cast him out from the congregation of Baháand in no wise accept any excuse from him.”
It is therefore obvious that as the Guardianship of the Faith has come to an end for these sans-Guardian Bahás, the “Center of the Cause” identified by ‘Abdu’l-Baháas 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, as previously pointed out, has also additionally arrogated unto itself the “powers,” the “authority,” the &rights and prerogatives” vested by the Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahásolely in the Guardian of the Faith. In the light of this transgression, consider the following words of ‘Abdu’l-Baháas found in His Testament: “what transgression is more grievous than attempting to destroy the Divine Edifice. breaking the Covenant, erring from the Testament, falsifying the Holy Text . . . “
A.T. STATEMENT: At that time [following the passing of Shoghi Effendi] there were some believers who thought that the Faith must always have a Guardian. This belief was partly due to the following statement by Shoghi Effendi in The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh: (Here he quotes a passage beginning on page 55 and ending on page 56 of the Fifth edition of this work printed in the U.S.A in 1947)
COMMENT: To support his position that the Guardianship has ended, Taherzadeh selects excerpts totalling not more than a page out of the more than 14 pages devoted by Shoghi Effendi in the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh to the subject of the “Administrative Order” with the obvious objective of showing that, although Shoghi Effendi?s writings, even in this brief excerpt, bear eloquent testimony to the essentiality of the Guardianship, there is a statement made by ‘Abdu’l-Baháthat Shoghi Effendi quoted which he seems to think bolsters his contention that, if there is no son to inherit the Guardianship, the termination of this Institution had been foreseen as a possibility by ‘Abdu’l-Baháas He has stated in one of His Tablets that the hereditary principle “has been invariably upheld by the Law of God” and “In all the Divine Dispensations the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of Prophethood hath been his birthright.“
If, however, the Guardian has no son or one endowed with the requisite qualifications specified in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, consider the following statements made by Shoghi Effendi found on this same page which attest to the essentiality of the Guardianship to the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and which he certainly would not have made if he shared Taherzadeh?s interpretation of the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháto so limit the choice of his successor as to consign the institution of the Guardianship to future certain extinction, which, indeed, Taherzadeh and those who think like him believe has already taken place only 36 years after the inception of the Administrative Order. In this same passage of the Dispensation that has been quoted by Taherzadeh one will find the following statements that attest to the essentiality of the Guardianship as stated by Shoghi Effendi:
“. . . these twin institutions [ i.e. the Guardianship and Universal House of Justice] of the Administrative Order should be regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose.“
“Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions administer its affairs, co-ordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions.“
“Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh would be mutilated . . .“
“Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperilled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be endangered . . . and the necessary guidance to define the sphere of the legislative action of its elected representatives would be totally withdrawn.“
A.T. STATEMENT: When it became clear that Shoghi Effendi had not appointed a successor to himself . . . some Bahás . . . insisted that a second Guardian must be created. Mason Remey, an ambitious individual, became the candidate, and with constant encouragement by a few equally ambitious men he claimed in 1960 that he was the successor of Shoghi Effendi.
COMMENT: There has never been a more unjust statement made about a person than to accuse Mason Remey of being ambitious. Even if he had asked Rúhíyyih Khánum to confirm this accusation who had known him from the time of her youth she would certainly have refuted such a patently false accusation, whatever else she might have said about him. Had Mason Remey been ambitious the very last thing that he would have done is to have issued his Proclamation in 1960 at the advanced age of 86 informing the Bahá world of the unconventional manner in which he had inherited the Guardianship with the certain prospect that he would be immediately rejected, vilified and vehemently denounced not only by his fellow-Hands but by a majority of the believers, as well, who by this time had been thoroughly conditioned by the Hands to a sans-Guardian Faith. On the contrary, if he had been ambitious, he certainly would have desired that the organization that had been set up by the Hands following the passing of Shoghi Effendi be maintained in the status quo. He already occupied the highest and most prestigious position in the Faith having been appointed President of the International Baha?i Council, as already pointed out, even though the full significance of this appointment had not been perceived at the time, even by himself, as also previously discussed. Additionally, he had been appointed a Hand of the Cause in the first contingent of twelve Hands appointed by Shoghi Effendi in December 1951 and had, together with them, received world-wide exposure to the believers throughout the world and enjoyed from them unprecedented respect, notoriety and prestige as they had taken a prominent part in and had been appointed as Shoghi Effendi?s representatives at Intercontinental Conferences (a specific Hand being acting in this capacity at a particular Conference) that had been organized and convened according to the plans of Shoghi Effendi in various countries of the world as a part of the Ten Year Global Crusade inaugurated in 1953. Moreover, upon the passing of Shoghi Effendi his fellow-Hands had chosen him from their number to be one of the nine so-called “Custodians of the Faith” who, according to their plans, as already discussed, they had chosen to direct the affairs of the Faith until the election of a sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice scheduled to take place at Ridv?n 1963.
It had been while he was a member of the body of this so-called “Custodians of the Faith” in Haifa during a period of some two and a half years that he exhorted them on an almost daily basis not to repudiate the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháby abandoning the Guardianship, as recounted in detail in the Diary he maintained titled: “Daily Observations of the Bahá Faith Made to The Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land,” He also addressed three wonderfully written appeals to all of his fellow-Hands in which he made the same arguments against the abandonment of the Guardianship and in which he also reminded them of the fruitless verbal appeals he had made of the same nature during their yearly conclaves held in ?Akk?. Excerpts from one of these appeals attesting to this fact are quoted below:
“This appeal to the Hands of the Baha?i Faith I present here in a series of assertions treating of various aspects of my argument for the acceptance of the Guardianship of the Faith . . . The main arguments presented in this appeal I made in our second and third conclaves at Bahji but under the high emotional tension of those conferences I doubt if my thoughts got over.”
“You will remember the plea that I made before you one and all who were assembled in the second Bahji Conclave of the Hands of the Bahá ? Faith in November 1958?my plea that for the safety and for the protection of our Faith that the office of the Guardianship of our Faith be wanted by us Hands of the Faith as much as possible?for the protection of our Faith”
“This suggestion urged by me and by me alone before that conclave was turned down unitedly by the twenty four of the twenty five of us present standing firmly against considering the suggestions that I urged. “
“But rejected as my thoughts were then, nevertheless I feel that I must continue to urge this same stand for your reconsideration and present it again before our next or third Bahji Conclave of the Hands of the Faith. This conviction is so very strongly fixed within my mind and very soul that I can take no other stand although I stand thus singly and alone with the body of Hands against me.”
As they had turned a deaf ear to all of these exhortations and appeals, he knew full well the kind of reception he could expect to his Proclamation from these faithless Hands who had become by this time firmly entrenched in their new found authority and power and stubbornly convinced that the Guardianship of the Faith had forever ended. He was aware, too, of the massive opposition he would inevitably face and the rejection he could anticipate as the result of a campaign that they would surely launch against him to influence, as they in fact did, the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, the Local Spiritual Assemblies, in turn, and the believers at large to reject his Proclamation out of hand. What conceivable ambition could he then have harbored knowing that as soon as he issued his Proclamation he could expect to face, in the few remaining years left to him, this overwhelming opposition, hostility and rejection on the part of the Hands, the administrative institutions of the Faith and most certainly the vast majority of the believers throughout the world. On the contrary, it took the greatest courage, a sublime devotion to and an unshakeable faith in the indestructible Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and a supernal fidelity to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháto take this lonely and unaided stand in proclaiming his Guardianship of the Faith, knowing, as he did so, that he would become a victim of the combined, massive and overwhelming forces that would certainly be marshalled and relentlessly arrayed against him.
For the benefit of those new believers unfamiliar with the meritorious services to the Faith of Mason Remey for half a century, let us consider some of his unsurpassed accomplishments since his acceptance of the Faith as a young man around the turn of the century when a student at the Beaux Arts in Paris. These services included the authorship, publication and distribution to libraries throughout the world of some of the earliest books written about the Faith, teaching endeavors undertaken in many countries of the world during his numerous trips on behalf of the Faith encircling the globe, the preparation of architectural designs of Bahá Temples that have been constructed in several countries throughout the world, the preparation of the architectural design for the Temple to be built in the future in Tihran, the preparation of architectural designs for the imposing and magnificent International Archives building erected on Mount Carmel and the Western Pilgrim House in Haifa for the accommodation of Bahá pilgrims, the preparation of the architectural design, as the chosen architect by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, of the Bahá Temple that is to be built in the future on Mount Carmel and finally his multiple services at the World Center of the Faith after his move to Haifa, where, in addition to being the President of the International Bahá Council, he was invariably called upon to be Shoghi Effendi?s representative at official State functions. He was unquestionably the most outstanding living male Hand of the Cause and it was obviously for this reason that Shoghi Effendi had requested Mason Remey to move to Haifa in 1950 from his home in Washington, D.C. , informed him that henceforth he was to make Haifa his permanent home and appointed him the President of the International Bahá Council in preparation for the future pre-eminent role he would play as Shoghi Effendi?s appointee. Certainly, no believer had been more highly eulogized by ‘Abdu’l-Baháthan Mason Remey. The following three excerpts chosen from the Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baháwill alone suffice to prove the blatant falsity of Taherzadeh?s statement as to his alleged ambition and attest to his exalted character:
“Praise be unto God, that the model of the Mashrekel Azkar made by Mr. Bourgeois was approved by his honor, Mr. Remey, and selected by the Convention. His honor, Mr. Remey is, verily of perfect sincerity. He is like unto transparent water, filtered, lucid and without any impurity. He worked earnestly for several years but he did not have any personal motive. He has not attachment to anything except to the Cause of God. This is the spirit of the firm and this is the characteristic of the sincere.” (Star of the West, Vol.11, No.9)
“O thou son of the Kingdom,
Thy letter was received . . . In brief, I am greatly pleased with thy conduct and thy behavior. Praise be to God, thou are freed from these limitations and imaginations, hast no purpose save the diffusion of the divine fragrances and art ever restless and active. Thou art day and night striving to hoist the resplendent banner and to cause the shining morn to illumine all regions. . . . (Star of the West, Vo1.11, No. 8)
“O thou who art rejoiced by the Divine Glad Tidings!
“ . . . Verily I beseech God to make thee confirmed under all circumstances. Do not become despondent, neither be thou sad. ERE LONG, THY LORD SHALL MAKE THEE A SIGN OF GUIDANCE AMONG MANKIND.” (Caps added) (Star of the West, Vol.V, No.10)
A.T. STATEMENT: ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament extolled Shoghi Effendi as the ?Sign of God? , the ?Chosen Branch?, the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees?, ?the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas?. Such a being was created by God especially to become the Guardian of the Cause, and his appointment was made by the Centre of the Covenant Himself. He was a descendent both of Bahá’u’lláh and of the family of the B?b. How could a few individuals who looked for leadership and sought power for their own selfish interests raise up a lesser man to the station of the Guardianship.
COMMENT: In the above statement Taherzadeh has chosen disconnected phrases from various paragraphs of the Will and Testament and linked them together in a single paragraph as though they were written this way in the original text of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Taherzadeh has done this in a nefarious effort to support his contention, completely at variance with the intent of the Will and Testament and everything Shoghi Effendi has written on the subject, that the Guardianship was an Institution that had its birth and death with Shoghi Effendi and that no individual other than Shoghi Effendi, who alone had been chosen by God to occupy this Institution, would ever be endowed in the future with the necessary exalted qualifications to occupy this Institution. Taherzadeh endeavors to further support this argument by changing ‘Abdu’l-Bahás reference to Shoghi Effendi in His Will and Testament as the “sign of God” (“sign” translated with a lower case letter “s” by Shoghi Effendi in the 1944 edition of the Will) to “Sign of God” and, again, the term “the chosen branch” to “the Chosen Branch.”
Much more seriously Taherzadeh shows the same lack of understanding that the great majority of the believers also still have concerning the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin failing to realize that this Testament is unique and unlike any will that has been penned before. For, it does not refer solely to Shoghi Effendi as the one whom ‘Abdu’l-Baháhas appointed the first Guardian of the Cause of God and provide measures for the continuity of this Institution in which successive Guardians serve as the “chosen ministers of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh but, as well, in its opening pages refers to the spiritual relationship that binds ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as the appointed “Center of the Covenant” to the “Lord of the Covenant”?Bahá’u’lláh?an appointment which, in turn, endowed Him with the authority to perpetuate this Covenant in his designation of the successive Guardians of the Faith as “the Center of the Cause” unto whom all must turn and from whom all must seek guidance.”. As a result of this lack of understanding, Taherzadeh has quoted a passage in which ‘Abdu’l-Baháactually refers to His own unique Station as “the primal branch” conferred upon Him by Bahá’u’lláh and has incorrectly interpreted this passage as applying to Shoghi Effendi. In doing this, he has failed to recall that in His “Last Tablet to America,” for example, ‘Abdu’l-Baháhas likened the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh to a divinely planted Tree in referring to it as the “Tree of the Covenant.” In applying this analogy to the terms found in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “the root of the Blessed Tree”?”this Ancient Root”?is Bahá’u’lláh, whereas the “primal branch” (i.e. the trunk) of that Tree is none other than ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself?the Center of the Covenant?while the first offshoot?”the twig” or the “youthful branch” ?grown out from this “primal branch,” is the first Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi, while successive future branches of this “primal branch” are the future Guardians of the Faith nourished (to continue the analogy) by the divine spiritual sap (divine guidance) that flows from this divinely implanted Root through its “primal branch” or Trunk (symbolically, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá) into the successive branches?Guardians of the Faith. Therefore, it should be clear in this analogy that there is a vast difference between the “primal branch”?the single and unique trunk of that Holy Tree?”The Most Great Branch,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who has been uniquely and eternally linked with Bahá’u’lláh in the Station that has been conferred upon Him as the “Center of the Covenant,” and the twigs or youthful branches of that Tree. It is this Station of the Most Great Branch and not its offshoots that Abdu?l-Baháunderstandably initially extols in the opening passages of His Testament, a Branch which Bahá’u’lláh has stated in referring to ‘Abdu’l-Baháin the Suriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch) “hath branched from this Ancient Root” and is a “shelter for all mankind.” It is this spiritual link that is then carried forward, between the “Most Great Branch,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the “sacred and youthful branch,” Shoghi Effendi, whose designation and appointment by Him as the Guardian of the Cause of God appears for the first time in the eleventh page of His Testament and is further perpetuated as long as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh endures through His provision calling for the appointment by successive future Guardians of their successors.
A.T. STATEMENT: In His Will and Testament ‘Abdu’l-Bahálaid down the conditions that Shoghi Effendi?s successor must be either the ?first born? of the Guardian or another Ghusn (male descendent) of Bahá’u’lláh, and that the Hands of the Cause must give their assent to his choice. How could Mason Remey fulfil these conditions?
COMMENT: The erroneous interpretation of the provisions of the Will and Testament in which it is contended that the Guardian is restricted in his choice of a successor, as stated above, has been discussed earlier. Let us, therefore turn our attention to the last part of the above statement in which it is stated that the Hands must give their assent to this choice. In the first place this is a clear misstatement as the Will and Testament does not require all of the Hands to give their assent to the Guardian?s choice of a successor and secondly this provision also does not grant authority to the nine Hands, to which this provision applies, to veto this choice. The Will and Testament states:
“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 of the guardian of the Cause of God. The election of these nine must be carried either unanimously or by a majority from the company of the Hands of the Cause of God and these, whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor. This assent must be given in such wise as the assenting and dissenting voices may not be distinguished (i.e. by secret ballot).“
It should be understood that Shoghi Effendi did not find it appropriate or timely to require the Hands to carry out this election of nine from their own number under the terms of the Will and Testament to serve under his direction in Haifa during his ministry. Developments at the World Center had not reached the stage where he needed the assistance of this body of nine Hands and consequently this body had never come into existence during his ministry. This provision of the Will and Testament will safeguard the appointment process in the future when the Guardian wields tremendous power and influence from the malevolent machinations of anyone or a group attempting to foist upon the Bahá world a false pretender to the Guardianship. This provision had, therefore, not been applicable when Shoghi Effendi appointed his successor through the instrumentality of the creation of the embryonic Universal House of Justice and the appointment of Mason Remey as its head or President. Shoghi Effendi, while not requiring the services of these nine Hands of the Cause at the World Center during his ministry, had required certain specific assistance during the last few years of his ministry and accordingly had requested Hands of the Cause, Mason Remey, Sutherland Maxwell and Leroy Ioas to reside permanently in Haifa to assist him in the important work involving such things as the construction of the superstructure of the Shrine of the B?b, the International Archives building and his relations with the Government of Israel. In any event, this provision of the Will and Testament concerning the assent of the nine Hands to the choice of the Guardian?s successor should not be misunderstood. The following statement from Shoghi Effendi, extracted from a letter addressed by him to the NSA of the United States, appearing on the front page of the Bahá News of the United States (No.288, Feb. 1955) clarifies the passage in question:
“The statement in the Will of ?Abdu?l-Bahá does not imply that the [nine] Hands of the Cause of God have been given the authority to overrule the Guardian. ‘Abdu’l-Bahácould not have provided for a conflict of authority in the Faith. This is obvious in view of His own words, which you will find on page 13 [p.11 of 1944 edition] of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. ?The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God. It is incumbent upon . . . 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. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One,? etc.“
A.T. STATEMENT: It is interesting to note that, in a Tablet to the Hand of the Cause Mulla ?Ali- Akbar, ‘Abdu’l-Bahámakes this important statement: (quoted by A.T on page 387 of his book)
. . . for ‘Abdu’l-Baháis in a tempest of dangers and infinitely abhors differences of opinion
. . . Praise be to God, there are no grounds for differences.
The B?b, the Exalted One, is the Morn of Truth, the splendour of Whose light shineth through all regions. He is also the Harbinger of the Most Great Light, the Abh? Luminary. The Blessed Beauty is the One promised by the sacred books of the past, the revelation of the Source of light that shone upon Mount Sinai, Whose fire glowed in the midst of the Burning Bush. We are one and all, servants of Their threshold and stand each as a lowly keeper at Their door.
My purpose is this, that ere the expiration of a thousand years, no one has the right to utter a single word, even to claim the station of Guardianship. The most Holy Book is the Book to which all peoples shall refer, and in it the Laws of God have been revealed. Laws not mentioned in the Book should be referred to the decision of the Universal House of Justice. There will be no grounds for difference . . . Beware, beware lest anyone create a rift or stir up sedition. [underlining added]
COMMENT: Taherzadeh has quoted this Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin an obvious effort to discredit Mason Remey?s claim to the Guardianship for it has been quoted immediately following the question he has raised about Mason Remey being able to fulfil the necessary conditions under the terms of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as he sees them, to be appointed Shoghi Effendi?s successor. Surprisingly, in quoting this Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Baháwhich contains the phrase: “ere the expiration of a thousand years, no one has the right to utter a single word, even to claim the station of Guardianship” Taherzadeh becomes guilty of the following:
•Inferring that the term “Guardianship” found in this Tablet, written before the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand the contents of His Will and Testament had been revealed, is the same Guardianship referred to in that sacred, immortal and immutable Document which, of course, it clearly is not. The Guardianship referred to in this quoted passage is one of the several stations from which the Manifestation of God makes His utterances and in this instance the term applies to Bahá’u’lláh for as Bahá’u’lláh, Himself, has revealed with reference to the Manifestations of God: “Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship, or Servitude, all is true beyond a shadow of a doubt.” (underlining added)
•Actually placing ‘Abdu’l-Baháin the position of ignoring His own injunction by illegitimately incorporating in His Will and Testament the Institution of Guardianship which, according to the interpretation Taherzadeh has placed on the above quoted Tablet, is an Institution which could be legitimately claimed only after the expiration of a thousand years. This fallacious argument used by Taherzadeh even invalidates Shoghi Effendi?s appointment as the first Guardian of the Cause of God as it took effect before the “expiration of a thousand years” and would equally apply to and invalidate appointments of all future Guardians, as well.
•Attempting to prove that because ‘Abdu’l-Baháin this Tablet states that “Laws not mentioned in the Book should be referred to the decision of the Universal House of Justice.” that this institution is able to function without the Guardian as its essential “sacred head and the distinguished member for life” as delineated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
A.T. STATEMENT: Mason Remey?s efforts to form a following for himself failed miserably . . . The divinely-ordained instruments serving the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh have been so strengthened today that efforts of this group of Covenant-breakers have become null and void, and the power of the Covenant has driven them into oblivion.
COMMENT: The recognition of the validity of Mason Remey?s accession to the Guardianship has not been driven into oblivion. On the contrary, more and more believers in several countries of the world, as they have become informed for the first time of the true facts surrounding his inheritance of the Guardianship, have not only recognized him as the second Guardian of the Faith duly appointed by Shoghi Effendi but have accepted his appointed successor as well. As for the “divinely ordained instruments” which Taherzadeh claims have been strengthened, this is certainly not the case when the “machinery of its highest institutions. . . the supreme organs of its unfolding Order”?[i.e. the Hands of the Cause and Universal House of Justice]?whose erection “at long last” in their embryonic form, which together with the Guardianship, Shoghi Effendi had hailed in his message of 30 June 1952, have all been destroyed under their substituted man-made organization. Once again, Taherzadeh has labelled as Covenant-breakers, applying the perverted meaning he has given to this term, to those believers who have remained loyal to the Guardian of the Faith?the “Center of the Cause”?as enjoined upon all believers under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
A.T. STATEMENT: Concerning the statement by Shoghi Effendi quoted above: ?Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship, the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh would be mutilated?, it must be emphasized that although there are no more Guardians after Shoghi Effendi, the institution of the Guardianship will always exist. . . . The institution of the Guardianship will always serve as a pillar supporting the mighty structure of the Administrative Order, regardless of whether the Guardian is living or not. . . . Thus, far from being divorced from the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, the institution of the Guardianship plays a preponderating role now and for ever, in conjunction with the institution of the Universal House of Justice, in guiding and directing the Bahá community towards its ultimate goal . . .”
COMMENT: It may be noted that Taherzadeh changes the phrase written by Shoghi Effendi: “Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship. . . ” to “Divorced from the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.” How totally at variance are Taherzadeh?s statements with all that Shoghi Effendi has written concerning the role of the Guardian in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and how transparently false the rationalization that Taherzadeh has employed in an effort to justify the continued existence of the Faith without a Guardian. Any future scholar who studies the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh written by Shoghi Effendi and his other works in which he defines the essential role of the Guardian in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh will readily perceive that the Guardianship of the Faith, as delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament, is clearly an institution that must be occupied by a living Guardian and without the living Guardian?”the Center of the Cause,”?the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh can never become a reality and the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh will have lost all meaning. If one reads the remaining statements of Shoghi Effendi contained in the paragraph of “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh” from which Taherzadeh has quoted a single sentence they will note that Shoghi Effendi goes on to say that not only will the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh be mutilated without the institution of the Guardianship but that: “Without such an institution, the integrity of the Faith would be imperilled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be gravely endangered. Its prestige would suffer, the means required to enable it to take a long and uninterrupted view over a series of generations would be completely lacking, and the necessary guidance to define the sphere of the legislative action of its elected representatives would be totally withdrawn.“
Moreover, without a living Guardian, as previously discussed, the source of the exclusive right of interpretation of the Writings vested solely in the Guardian of the Faith under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháis permanently lost and this distinguishing feature of the Faith which sets it apart from all of the Revelations of the past and which precludes the schisms that have inevitably plagued these Faiths from varying and conflicting interpretations of the revealed Word ceases to exist. Additionally, not only has Shoghi Effendi further emphasized the unique role that the Guardian plays in the Administrative Order by designating him as “the Guardian of the Administrative Order ” but it is clear from the above quoted statement of Shoghi Effendi that he has defined the essential, unique and irreplaceable role that the Guardian exercises as the presiding head of the Universal House of Justice, a role that can only be performed by a living Guardian of the Faith. In view of the foregoing, it is crystal clear that no amount of rationalization will prove otherwise and that the Guardianship is not a function taken by Shoghi Effendi to the other world upon his passing or one to be carried on in perpetuity from that world.
A.T. STATEMENT: [ Quoted from a message that was sent to a believer by the so-called Universal House of Justice on 7 December 1969 which reads as follows:]
“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.”
COMMENT: Based on what has already been written earlier the reader by this time will perceive that the above statement made by the so-called Universal House of Justice and quoted by Taherzadeh, in effect, repudiates the sacred, immutable and immortal provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand contradicts everything that Shoghi Effendi has ever written about the Guardianship and its future in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. If once the line of Guardians were to be broken as the so-called Universal House of Justice claims has been envisaged in the Writings, there is no way in which the Guardianship can be restored as only a Guardian can appoint his successor under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. As they claim that Shoghi Effendi, whose ministry endured for thirty-six years, was the one and only Guardian of the Faith, there has not been a line of Guardians broken. Therefore, what they really should have stated is that once the Guardianship has ended, as they believe has already taken place with the passing of the very first Guardian of the Faith, the Guardianship can never be restored.
The so-called Universal House of Justice goes on in their letter, in an attempt to justify their ludicrous contention that a break in the line of Guardians had been foreseen, by quoting a passage from the Kit?b-i-Aqdas which states that the decision rests with the Aghsan as to the disposition of “endowments dedicated to charity” and “after them with the House of Justice.” They claim that as no mention has been made of the Guardian in this passage of the Aqdas (i.e. only the Aghsan and the House of Justice have been referred to) it is “One of the most striking passages which envisage the possibility of such a break in the line of Guardians.” Of course, there was no mention of the Guardianship in the Aqdas as this Institution was first formally established by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament, a Document which Shoghi Effendi has stated is “complementary” to the Aqdas 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. In a further effort to support this groundless argument they have erroneously equated contributions made to Huq?qu?ll?h (the Right of God) with “endowments dedicated to charity” both of which are mentioned in the Aqdas, the former being “offered through the guardian of the Cause of God” under the terms of the Will and Testament of ?Abdu?l-?Bahá. In QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS, an authoritative supplement to the Kit?b-i-Aqdas, the following question is posed to Bahá’u’lláh: “May a person in drawing up his will assign some portion of his property ?beyond that which is devoted to payment of Huq?qu?ll?h and the settlement of debts?to works of charity . . . ? ” Bahá’u’lláh provides the following answer: ““A person hath full jurisdiction over his property. If he is able to discharge the Huq?qu?ll?h and is free of debt, then all that is recorded in his will, and any declaration or avowal it containeth, shall be acceptable.” Bahá’u’lláh?s statement reveals the utter falsity of equating endowments dedicated to charity with contributions to Huq?qu?ll?h in a nefarious effort to use this substitution to support their obviously fallacious and ridiculous argument that, as no mention had been made of the Guardian of the Faith being a recipient of charitable contributions in the passage quoted from the Aqdas, it was indicative of the possibility of a break in the line of Guardians. (emphasis added)
A.T. STATEMENT: Before Mason Remey?s preposterous claim, the wisdom of the words of ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament that the Hands of the Cause of God ?must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor? was not clear to many. But after Remey?s defection it became clear that this requirement was a means for protection of the Cause of God. If there was to be a successor to Shoghi Effendi, he needed the approval of the Hands, and Mason Remey did not have this.
COMMENT: The utter falsity of the above argument has been pointed out previously but it would be well to reiterate that Taherzadeh, in quoting a passage from the Will and Testament, has deliberately omitted that portion of the text of the Will that stipulates that it is only the nine Hands “occupied in the important services in the work of the Guardian” at the World Center who have been elected from their own number that “must give their assent” to the Guardian?s choice of a successor and not the entire body of Hands. Also, as previously pointed out, Shoghi Effendi had not deemed it timely to have the Hands carry out this election during his ministry and therefore this provision of ‘Abdu’l-Bahás Will and Testament will only be applicable and be implemented during the lifetime of a future Guardian when these nine Hands are resident in Haifa and whose assent, in any case, must of necessity, be given prior to his passing and not after his passing. It should be obvious that if such assent by these nine Hands was withheld following the passing of a future Guardian it would mean the end of the Guardianship. This is further evidence that the Guardian must appoint and make known his successor prior to his passing as stipulated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Will and Testament and not by testamentary document which was faithfully done by Shoghi Effendi but, for the reasons previously pointed out, made in such a manner that this appointment was not recognized by the Bahá world at the time of his passing and subsequent thereto because of preconceived ideas, misinterpretations of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand an immediate shameless loss of faith in the sacredness, immutability and immortality of that “Divine Masterpiece which the hand of the Master-builder of the world has designed for the unification and triumph of the world-wide Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.“
A.T. STATEMENT: In 1961 the Hands of the Cause arranged for the election of the International Bahá Council, the forerunner of the Universal House of Justice. . . The International Bahá Council, whose members had been appointed by the Guardian was now transformed into an elected body.
COMMENT: Taherzadeh has completely ignored the Proclamation of Shoghi Effendi of 9 January 1951 in which he had proclaimed the “formation of the first International Bahá Council “as an “historic decision marking the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh” since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand makes only a brief passing mention above to its projected transformation into an elected body as he proceeds immediately to quote passages from a message from the Hands of the Cause calling for the election of the Universal House of Justice by National and Regional Assemblies during the first three days of Ridv?n, 1963 at a convention to be convened in the Holy Land. What has been ignored by Taherzadeh is that Shoghi Effendi?s message of 9 January 1951 (which had not been recognized as a Proclamation, even though its opened with the word: “Proclaim”) had identified four stages through which the International Bahá Council would evolve from its embryonic stage into maturity as the Universal House of Justice. These four stages in the development of “this first embryonic International Institution” following its emergence from its embryonic state, were:”its development into officially recognized Bahá Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House of Justice, and its final fruition through creation of manifold auxiliary institutions constituting the World Administrative Center . . . .”
It may be seen from the above, that the decision made by the Hands to hold the election of this body in 1961 (which incidentally Taherzadeh has incorrectly stated on page 324 of his book was the projected second stage in the development of the International Council rather than the third) preceding its evolutionary transformation into an International Bahá Court was considerably premature according to the plans of Shoghi Effendi as he had stated in a follow-up message of 25 April 1951 to his Proclamation of 9 January 1951 that the establishment of the “Bahá Court” was an “essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice” This International Bahá Court would then exercise jurisdiction over six National Bahá Courts which would be established in six countries, specified by Shoghi Effendi to be accomplished by Ridv?n 1963 under the goals of the Ten year Global Crusade (1953-1963) where the application of Bahá Laws to adherents of the Faith in those countries would be contingent upon official governmental recognition of these National Bahá Courts. The transformation of this Court into its third stage as an “elected body” remained a goal to be achieved in the future while the further transformation of this body into its final stage as the Universal House of Justice necessarily remained a goal to be achieved in the more distant future. Its election as the so-called Universal House of Justice as early as 1963 has therefore not permitted the gradual essential evolutionary development of this institution in the manner projected by Shoghi Effendi and its establishment has been premature and obviously contrary to the objectives set forth by Shoghi Effendi in his Proclamation, not to mention that it was established as a headless body (i.e. without the Guardian) and therefore was not the Institution delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Baháin His Testament.
With reference to the second stage in the evolutionary development of the International Bahá Council as the International Bahá Court, the development of the International Council was discussed by Shoghi Effendi at the dinner table on the same evening that he alluded to the imminence of his passing, as enumerated earlier. When Shoghi Effendi mentioned the second stage of its evolution as the International Court, my Haifa notes of 30 November 1952 record that he stated:
“THE PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL BAHA?I COUNCIL WILL THEN BECOME THE JUDGE (THE GUARDIAN IN AN ASIDE TO MASON AND WITH A SMILE ASKED: ?MASON ARE YOU READY TO BECOME A JUDGE ? ) ? “
Both the statement made by Shoghi Effendi above in the presence of Rúhíyyih Khánum and six other members of the International Bahá Council seated at the table that evening and the question he directed to Mason Remey, the President of that Council were of the greatest significance as they revealed the following:
• That Shoghi Effendi intended that Mason Remey who was the embryonic head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice would become the active head or Chief Judge of the International Bahá Court when the present International Council emerged from its inactive embryonic state as a functioning body, in which it was then maintained and entered the second stage of its development as an actively functioning Court.
• That as the International Bahá Court would inevitably be involved in passing judgement upon and determining the legality of such subsidiary laws as might be required to supplement the immutable Laws revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kit?b-i-Aqdas, this is a function which would, of necessity, involve interpretation, a function that is the sole prerogative of the Guardian of the Faith and the vital and essential one which he is called upon to perform as the sacred Head of the Universal House of Justice.
• That the Chief Judge of the International Bahá Court can be none other than the Guardian of the Faith.
• That as Shoghi Effendi had clearly indicated Mason Remey would be the Chief Judge of the International Bahá Court he was informing us, albeit indirectly, that Mason Remey was his appointed successor which, however, did not register in our minds as we failed, including even Mason Remey, himself, to perceive the tremendous significance of his words, a failure which Shoghi Effendi had certainly forseen and expected, because of our erroneously held belief, of which he was certainly aware, that his successor would be named in a testamentary document.
There can be no more fitting conclusion to this critique than to quote the following excerpt from Shoghi Effendi?s writings found in The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh in which he has given us such a magnificent description of the divine origin of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baháand in which he has emphasized so clearly the joint Authorship of this divinely-conceived, immortal and immutable Document whose provisions are to be considered a part of the explicit Holy Text and therefore, similarly to the Kit?b-i-Aqdas, destined to endure and be applicable for no less than a full thousand years:
“The creative energies released by the Law of Bahá’u’lláh, permeating and evolving within the mind of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, have, by their very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and promise of this most great Dispensation. The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose [Bahá’u’lláh] and the One Who was its chosen recipient [‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. Being the Child of the Covenant ?the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God?The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahácan no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it.“
How is it possible for anyone who is a faithful believer in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, who claims to believe in the indestructibility of His mighty and resistless Covenant and who professes fidelity to both the Center of His Covenant and to the Guardianship as the “Center of the Cause” be so lacking in faith since the passing of Shoghi Effendi as to believe that the divinely-conceived “Child of the Covenant” has already died an early death, that the glorious “Charter of the New World Order” has become a dead letter and that “the Administrative Order which the master-hand of its perfect Architect has fashioned” in all of its perfection and glory and founded on “God?s immutable Purpose for mankind in this day” will now never become a reality?
— Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá passe’
From April 1, 1997, to September 27, 1997, over 2,863 messages were posted on alt.religion.bahai, from people with wide-ranging points of view on the Baha’i Faith. This is an average of 16 messages per day for 179 days or 477 messages a month for six months. During this time period, approximately 513 different individuals posted on over 1,200 threads.
From September 28, 1997, to September 21, 1998, over 31,000 messages have been posted to alt.religion.bahai, an average of 90 messages per day for 341 days or 2,583 messages per month for nine months.
These numbers may be verified by searching www.dejanews.com for talk.religion.bahai and alt.religion.bahai for the relevant time periods. Note that www.dejanews.com cannot pick up all postings and sometimes splits long postings into 2 or more shorter ones; while they may not be exact, these numbers offer a clear picture of the level of activity.
Date : 1998/10/23
Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha passe’?
In a recent post in the thread “Is this the flaw in the Baha’i Faith?” I closed by saying:
“The organization that follows the Haifa Universal House of Justice can now dispense with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. For them it is no longer needed. And that’s why starting a thread on the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is not likely to generate much interest. After all, why bother with that which, to the majority, is now passe’?”
I personally find it fascinating that so many of those who are followers of the Haifa UHJ maintain that they are abiding by ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and are so quick to identify as Covenant-breakers those who have rejected their headless international institution. Of the 56 or 57 paragraphs that are in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament, at least 10 of those paragraphs (about 18 percent of the document) contain details that are no longer operational for the Haifa believers. It would therefore appear that the time has come for the Haifa organization to disencumber itself entirely from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and to state openly that both ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi erred: ‘Abdu’l-Baha for so restricting the manner in which a Guardian was to appoint his successor as to make it impossible for a successor to be named, and Shoghi Effendi for emphasizing the relationship of the Guardianship with the Universal House of Justice in his “Dispensation.”
Certainly it is time for the sans-Guardian UHJ to cast off the verbiage that Shoghi Effendi employed in his remarks about ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will, for isn’t it simply an embarrassment for that body to find it necessary to ignore Shoghi Effendi’s statement that the Will and the Aqdas are “inseparable parts of one complete unit”? And aren’t its members even the slightest bit discomfited by Shoghi Effendi’s statement that the Guardian “is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Baha’u’llah’s revealed utterances”? And aren’t they, or their followers, even the slightest bit disturbed by the fact that Shoghi Effendi identified the Universal House of Justice and the Guardianship as “twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Baha’u’llah” that are to be “regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose”? For why should the Guardianship, an institution that for them didn’t last past the first Guardian of the Faith, be looked upon as divine in its origin? What makes that institution’s functions “essential” and its aim and purpose “complementary” to the Universal House of Justice, if the institution of the Guardianship is no longer in existence because it does not have a living person ministering its functions?
Shoghi Effendi stated that the twin institutions would be “Acting in conjunction with each other”. How is it possible for the Universal House of Justice, minus the Guardian, to act in conjunction with the Guardian? Indeed, how can the Guardian act in conjunction with the UHJ when he’s not here? Shoghi Effendi said that the “two inseparable institutions” are to “administer its [the Administrative Order’s’] affairs, coordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions.” Can anyone in the Haifa organization explain how the Guardian of the Cause is involved in such administering, coordinating, promoting, and executing? How is it possible for this twin pillar to assist in supporting Baha’u’llah’s Administrative Structure? What is it about the Guardianship, as understood by the Haifa believers, that makes it one of the “two fundamental organs of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha”? What’s so fundamental about the Guardianship today? And how will it be a fundamental organ in the future?
The followers of the Haifa organization no longer need to be concerned about such passages as these from 10 different paragraphs of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will:
“The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God.” (What’s the test for obedience to one who is no longer in this world?)
“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.” (If there is no Guardian, then clearly this provision is no longer viable.)
“The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number…” (The Haifa UHJ has decreed that no more Hands can be appointed.)
“The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the guardian of the Cause of God.” (No Guardian = no Hands.)
“The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances…” (For the Haifa organization the Hands are an extinct institution.)
“This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God. (In the next world?)
“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 UHJ has no sacred head and thus no distinguished member.)
“This fixed money offering (Huquq)…is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God.” (The sans-Guardian UHJ has provided otherwise.)
“And inasmuch as this House of Justice hath power to enact laws that are not expressly recorded in the Book and bear upon daily transactions, so also it hath power to repeal the same….This it can do because that law formeth no part of the Divine Explicit Text.” (Since Shoghi Effendi, the appointed interpreter, identified the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha as a part of the Divine Explicit Text, and since the Universal House of Justice has disregarded or by-passed a number of the Will’s provisions, this provision is clearly no longer in effect for that institution.)
“All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice.” (The followers of the Haifa organization surely must realize that the “Center of the Cause” referred to in this passage is no longer here. So the only way guidance can be sought from him–Shoghi Effendi–is through his writings and prayer, and, as shown above, Shoghi Effendi’s written words can no longer provide guidance for those who follow the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice.)
So, isn’t it about time that the Haifa Universal House of Justice openly declare that the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is passe’ and that Shoghi Effendi’s statements in the “Dispensation” should no longer be considered as authoritative?
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 20:42:50 GMT
It clearly is not possible to ignore the technicalities of the W&T if one is to be faithful to the Covenants of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, for the Will, as Shoghi Effendi said, “is the Child of the Covenant,” and also “the Charter of the New World Order.” So, unless the provisions of that document are no longer operational and the Will is cast aside by the chief institution of the Faith, I think true Baha’is would be remiss in their duties to the Covenants if they should ignore those technicalities. That’s why I maintain that the sans-Guardian UHJ should take the unprecedented step of declaring the Will and Testament as passe’. After all, the members of that organization have determined that there can be no more Guardians and that there can be no more Hands. Furthermore, the Haifa UHJ has taken over the Huquq, which, according to the Will is to “be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God.” So why shouldn’t the Haifa UHJ take another unprecedented step and declare the Will as “Bada” (God changed His mind) and, at the same time, go on record as saying that Shoghi Effendi’s statements in the “Dispensation” should no longer be looked upon as authoritative, since the sans-Guardian UHJ is now looked upon by its followers as the authority in the Faith. That–it seems to me–should be a very simple and straightforward action for the UHJ to take.
Yes, Chess, the Will is clear that a line of Guardians is anticipated by the Master. In addition, it should be clear that ‘Abdu’l-Baha recognized in His Will and elsewhere that there was rampant Covenant-breaking in the family of Baha’u’llah and that it would be ludicrous for him to restrict the first Guardian’s appointment of his successor to the blood-line of Baha’u’llah. That being the case, it should be apparent that the statement that says that if the Guardian’s “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” that the word “branch” does not refer to the Aghsan or the blood-line of Baha’u’llah. In other words, the Guardian must go outside the family line for the appointment.
This is in keeping with ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s emphasis on the spiritual family being more important than the physical family. (Read his last Tablet to America in which He cites what Christ had to say about His family and what Qurratu’l-‘Ayn had to say about hers. Both emphasized the spiritual connection rather than the physical one.)
I can understand how you might find it easier “to believe that one person has designs for power-grabbing, etc. than 20+” others. (There was a total of 27 Hands at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s death.) Since you are not a Baha’i, I can also understand why you may not have read Mason Remey’s “Daily Observations”, written while he was in Haifa from the time of the first Guardian’s passing until he left Haifa in the months prior to his proclamation of April 1960. Were you to read those entries, you would recognize that Mason Remey was far from an ego-driven, power-grabbing individual. (And if you were to read the entire diary you’d also realize, because of the way it is written, that it was not a fabricated or fictional account that was developed for purposes of lending support to one who planned to take over the Faith.)
As to the nine Hands who, according to the Will, were to “give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor”: At the time that Shoghi Effendi identified Mason Remey as the President of the embryonic Universal House of Justice there were no Hands of the Faith. Orthodox Baha’is therefore maintain that, like certain other provisions of the Will which were not then in effect, that particular provision also was not in effect at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s appointment. (And, no, Chess, the 9 Hands are not synonymous with the UHJ. The Will states that the Universal House of Justice “must be elected by universal suffrage,” that the “secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of the Universal one.” All Hands of the Faith are under the direction of the Guardian, and as the Will says, the Guardian “must continually urge them…”)
On the other hand, you have the Hands of the Faith deciding that Shoghi Effendi’s identification of them as the “Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth” gave them the right to assume the role of a collective guardian of the Cause until they put into place an institution that they would call the Universal House of Justice but which, as is called for by the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, would be minus its sacred head. That, as you know, is what took place, and the Baha’i world followed the leadership of the Hands, even though the Will makes no provision for such a course of action.
Certainly as late as 1954 Shoghi Effendi was asserting that the Guardianship would be continuing after he left this world. On November 27, 1954, after making reference to the construction of the International Baha’i Archives and noting that it was “designed by the Hand of the Cause, Mason Remey, President of the International Baha’i Council,” the first Guardian wrote: “The raising of this Edifice 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.” Orthodox Baha’is would maintain that you don’t need administrative seats for institutions that are no longer going to exist in this world.
So, yes, Chess, I would aver that there is “something” that lots of people are missing. I would also contend that history has affirmed that the majority–even the vast majority–may not always be right, even when the members of that majority think they are divinely guided.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 16:31:15 GMT
Glad to see ” those rusty cogs” in motion. Here’s a bit o’ me oil…
I’m not a genealogist, but my dictionary tells me that the first definition of the word “lineage” is “descent in a direct line from an ancestor.” Thus, if ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote, as He did, that if the child of the guardian should “not inherit of the spiritual within him (the guardian of the Cause of God) 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,” He was saying that the Guardian would go outside his lineage. The sans-Guardian UHJ and the Hands of the Faith who established the sans-Guardian body have, of course, interpreted the word “branch” to mean “of the blood-line of Baha’u’llah”. However, if you read the English version of the Will–Shoghi Effendi’s translation and therefore his interpretation of the Will–you will see that, unlike what the first Guardian did at an earlier place in the Will, within that paragraph there is no added word “Aghsan” by the word “branch.” And the word within his translated version is in lower case.
Two paragraphs before the passage in question, Shoghi Effendi did set forth this sentence: “After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches) the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi…” You’ll note that in this instance the word “Branches” is capitalized.
Now, people can decide that the difference between a capitalized word and a lower case word is insignificant. But that is not what ‘Abdu’l-Baha indicated in His Will and Testament. He wrote: “What deviation can be greater than interpolating and falsifying the words and verses of the Sacred Text, even as testified and declared by Mirza Badi’u’llah!” (By the way, later in the Will and Testament ‘Abdu’l-Baha encouraged the believers to learn how the Sacred Text can be corrupted and He made a direct reference to Mirza Badi’u’llah’s written confession–a document in which Badi’u’llah describes how Muhammad ‘Ali falsified the Text. ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote: “Please God, ye will peruse it.”)
I agree with you, Chess, that “There is no room for doubt in the W&T [about the one chosen to be ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s successor]; it’s about as clear as you can get.” I also agree that if there were a “similar unambiguous designation by Shoghi Effendi, the majority of Baha’is would have accepted it.” My immediate response to this line of reasoning, though, is to encourage people to study closely the Proclamation of Shoghi Effendi of January 9, 1951 and to ponder whatever implications there may be in the exalted language that the beloved Guardian used in that Proclamation. Certainly, he was not saying that the International Baha’i Council was just a committee of individuals that he chose to assist him with his work and which would be dissolved in the future, time uncertain.
He said it was a “weighty epoch-making decision”–a “historic decision marking the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Baha’u’llah in the course of the last thirty years [that is, since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha], and he spoke of the “evolution of this first embryonic International Institution” that would develop into an officially recognized Baha’i Court [a stage of its development that he established as a goal of the 10-year Crusade, a goal that he emphasized in a Cablegram of April 25, 1951, saying that the Baha’i Court was an “essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice”], and then after the Court stage (which never occurred), the body would be transformed “into a duly elected body”, and then, finally, the organism’s “efflorescence into the Universal House of Justice.” Shoghi Effendi said of the “constitution of the International Council” that “history will acclaim [it] as the greatest event shedding luster upon the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Baha’i Dispensation.” And he identified the Council’s establishment as “potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since the inception of the Administrative Order of the Faith on the morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Ascension, ranking second only to the glorious immortal events associated with the Ministries of the Three Central Figures of the Faith…” It was to this body that Shoghi Effendi appointed Mason Remey the President.
As to the third point raised in your most recent posting (that is, “the hands of the Cause had to approve the selection”), I have already indicated that there were no Hands of the Faith at the time that Shoghi Effendi announced that Mason Remey was the President of the International Baha’i Council. I should point out, though, that the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha does not use the word “approve” regarding the action to be taken by the nine duly-elected Hands of the Faith. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will uses the words “must give their assent,” and when Shoghi Effendi was asked about this in the mid-50’s, his response was provided on page one of “Baha’i News,” February, 1955:
“The statement in the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha does not imply that the Hands of the Cause of God have been given the authority to overrule the Guardian. ‘Abdu’l-Baha could not have provided for a conflict of authority in the Faith. This is obvious, in view of His own words, which you will find on page 13 (p. 11 of 1944 U.S. edition) of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. ‘The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God. It is incumbent upon…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. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One,’ etc.”
Chess, Shoghi Effendi definitely did not feel that only certain parts of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will were to be accepted by a believer. In a letter of October 24, 1925, he set forth the qualifications for a true believer, saying: ” Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the True Exemplar of the Baha’i Cause, as set forth in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved’s sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present day Baha’i administration throughout the world–these I conceive to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before reaching such a vital decision.” During the remaining years of his ministry the beloved Guardian did not change the qualification so that a believer’s “loyal and steadfast adherence” should be to only some parts of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will. Instead, he said that the Will and the Aqdas are “inseparable parts of one complete unit.” And that means that the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha was classified by Shoghi Effendi as the Sacred Text and, as a consequence, it is not subject to modification by anyone or any institution of the Faith.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 17:45:22 GMT
Rick Schaut wrote “It’s worth nothing (sic) that the particular word translated as ‘branch’ in that particular passage is the Arabic word ‘ghusn’ (plural is Aghsan). This despite the fact that the Will and Testament is almost entirely written in the Persian language. If ‘Abdu’l-Baha didn’t have a particular meaning in mind, then one wonders why He went through the trouble.”
I’m assuming that Rick intended to write “noting” in his statement, though I must confess that the word “nothing” gave me pause.
My concern at this time is whether Shoghi Effendi, when he made his translation–and thus his interpretation of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will–also had particular meanings in mind when he produced that immortal document in English for all of us. It is my understanding that translations of the Will into other languages were to be made from Shoghi Effendi’s English version. If that is so, the future translators of the Will need not go back to the original text.
Rick also wrote: “In fact…the word “ghusn”, when used to refer to a person, has had one and only one meaning throughout all of the Writings of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha: it refers to a male descendant of Baha’u’llah.”
The Research Department of the Haifa Universal House of Justice has written otherwise. In a memorandum of 12 October 1994 to the UHJ, responding to an extended inquiry from Brent Mathieu, it wrote: “It is clear…that there could not be any authoritative statement limiting the meaning of these two words [“ghusn” and “Aghsan”], since they are by nature metaphorical. The primary meaning of ‘ghusn’ is the branch of a tree and, as the various quotations annexed by Mr. Mathieu to his letter show, this metaphor has been used in many ways by the Central Figures of the Faith. The question at issue, therefore, is not whether, in the Baha’i Writings, the use of the word is confined to designation of the male descendants of Baha’u’llah (it clearly is not)…”
The Research Department then went on to talk about its perspective on the metaphorical use of the word “branch” throughout the Will, stating that “Throughout it is applied to the two Holy Families of the Bab and Baha’u’llah and Their descendants.” Not surprisingly, then, the Research Department wrote: “This, therefore, is the obvious meaning of the word ‘branch’ in the passage in question.”
Despite the fact that the Research Department made a contrary distinction to what he thought to be true regarding what the Central Figures of the Faith meant when using the word ‘ghusn”, Rick is clearly in line with the Research Department when he stated that “It takes some very, shall we say ‘creative’, exegesis for one to come away with any different meaning.” On that issue, Rick and the Research Department are in solid accord.
Indeed, any follower of the Haifa UHJ who believes differently and who would openly declare such a position would make himself vulnerable to a charge of Covenant-breaking, for that individual would then be promoting the idea of a different line of authority from that which went from Shoghi Effendi to the collective guardianship of the Hands of the Cause to the sans- Guardian Universal House of Justice.
But before everyone in that organization gets completely comfortable with the position taken by the present authority in their administrative order, I think they also need to explain away ‘Abdu’l- Baha’s use of the word “ghusn” for “branch” in his last Tablet to America. You will certainly recall that the translation of that message contains the following details, which emphasize the Master’s view that the spiritual relationship is more important by far than the physical one. He wrote:
“Consider this text of the New Testament: the brothers of His Holiness Christ, came to Him and they said: ‘These are your brothers.’ He answered that His brothers were those who believed in God, and refused to associate with His own brothers.
“Likewise Qurratu’l-‘Ayn, who is celebrated in all the world, when she believed in God and was attracted to the Divine Breaths, she forsook her two eldest sons, although they were her two oldest children, because they did not become believers, and thereafter did not meet them. She said: ‘All the friends of God are my children, but these two are not. I will have nothing to do with them.’
“Consider! The Divine Gardener cuts off the dry or weak branch from the good tree and grafts to it, a branch from another tree. He both separates and unites.”
Chess Hazlett, of course, thinks the succession of the Faith “hinges on a lot more than capitalization in the W&T.” And he’s right. Among other things is the qualification that Shoghi Effendi established to identify a true believer: “loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved’s sacred Will”, which the followers of the sans-Guardian UHJ simply cannot meet. And that’s why I have suggested that their Universal House of Justice should declare the Will and Testament as passe’, and, at the same time, their UHJ should also get rid of Shoghi Effendi’s “Dispensation,” for his interpretations in that document certainly do not correlate with the modus operandi of the sans-Guardian organization.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 16:13:23 GMT
You don’t explain why you couldn’t make the connection between Shoghi Effendi and Mason Remey as Guardians. Can you explain why you could make the connection between Shoghi Effendi and the Hands of the Faith acting as a collective guardian prior to the establishment of the sans-Guardian UHJ?
As to my use of the word “passe'”, it is a term which I think the authority in the Haifa organization should now employ in its references to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.
As far as I can tell, the Declaration of Trust for your National Spiritual Assembly–the controlling legal document for the activities of its Trustees and the general membership–still contains the provision that to be a qualified member of the Baha’i Faith a person must give “loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s sacred Will.” Yet it is not possible for such a commitment to be met by the believers in the Haifa organization. For instance, the Will clearly states that the fixed money offering is to be “offered through the guardian of the Cause of God”, and, in the absence of a Guardian, your UHJ has now gone on record as saying that, in the absence of the Guardian, the Huquq is now under the control of the Universal House of Justice.
George, if the authority within your Faith does not operate within the terms of the “Charter of the New World Order” (Shoghi Effendi’s characterization of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will), then either the authority is out of compliance with the Charter, or the Charter is no longer current. That is, it’s defunct, out-dated, passe’. Therefore, to establish its authority, I think your UHJ should unequivocally declare that the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is a document of the past. In that way, its followers won’t be distracted by any of that document’s out-moded details, and the UHJ can then proceed to set up and follow its own, divinely-inspired Charter, one that is fitting for its current and future operations.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 16:19:40 GMT
Robert Little wrote:
“There will be left the Institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, long after the three remaining die, there will be left the Institution of the guardianship, in the form of his 36 years of writings and decisions…”
As I noted at the outset of this thread, the Haifa organization no longer abides by the provisions of the Will and Testament, despite the fact that people like Robert Little say there will continue to be the Institution of the Hands of the Cause (though there will be no Hands) and there will be the Institution of the Guardianship (though there will be no Guardian). But surely, if the Universal House of Justice does not have a Guardian as its “sacred head,” then your organization truly must consider the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha to be passe’.
How otherwise can that institution explain away the provision in the Will which says that “Should he [the Guardian] not attend in person its [the Universal House of Justice’s] deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him”? Obviously, since Shoghi Effendi is not attending the deliberations of the UHJ, there is supposed to be someone there who is representing him. When did Shoghi Effendi name this representative? Is there a tenth seat on the UHJ for him? Has the UHJ ever indicated how this person is making his reports to the Guardian of the Faith after the UHJ deliberates? And what does the UHJ hear back from the Guardian once his representative has talked matters over with the Guardian?
Sorry, but I don’t see how the above provision related to the Institution of the Guardianship has any meaning if there isn’t a living Guardian to implement it.. Just as I don’t see how the deceased Guardian of the Cause–who is not able to attend meetings of the Universal House of Justice–can “at his own discretion” assume the right to expel any of the members of the UHJ who “commit a sin, injurious to the common weal.” Nor can I see how the deceased Guardian of the Faith is going to “continually urge” any Hands of the Cause “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.”
The Institution of the Guardianship is an institution of this world, for as Shoghi Effendi pointed out in his “Dispensation of Baha’u’llah,” the Guardian “is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them [the other members of the UHJ] of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Baha’u’llah’s revealed utterances.” Among other things, that’s why I think that the authority in your organization should go on record as identifying both the Will and Testament and the “Dispensation” as passe’.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 20:16:12 GMT
If only some things were so simple that a one-word answer would suffice. You asked whether Shoghi Effendi said that the person whom he appointed as president of the International Baha’i Council would be his successor. The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is “yes.”
If Shoghi Effendi had written: “This appointment of Mason Remey as the President of the IBC means that he is the one I am appointing as my successor,” we wouldn’t be having this exchange under the subject heading “Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha passe?”, for all the believers (except those who committed themselves to Covenant-breaking) would automatically have accepted his decision. At the same time, most would also have experienced great consternation, for in 1951, when Shoghi Effendi named him as the Council’s President, Mason Remey was 77 years of age and the first Guardian was 54. Thus, had the first Guardian stated openly that a man nearly a quarter of a century older than he would succeed him as Guardian, the implications would be clear: Shoghi Effendi anticipated that his departure from this world would precede that of Mason Remey; hence, the first Guardian did not have much longer to live.
An article entitled “How and Why Shoghi Effendi Obscured the Appointment of His Successor and the Consequences”, written in August of this year by Joel B. Marangella, appeared in an earlier posting on alt.religion.bahai. That document provides the longer–the affirmative– answer to your question. If you didn’t read it previously, you can find a copy at the following address:
As you know, in contrast to this position, the Hands and their UHJ have deemed Shoghi Effendi as silent on the issue of his successor, and on the basis of their perception, they took over the Faith, believing that certain provisions of the Will and Testament are no longer operational.
It is my personal view that this whole issue of the succession of Guardians and the UHJ is one that God has placed upon the Baha’is to test their belief in all the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. And, frankly, I think most of us have failed the test.
“If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would have all believed,” says the Qur’an, and, of course, Baha’u’llah Himself has stated: “But inasmuch as the divine Purpose hath decreed that the true should be known from the false, and the sun from the shadow, He hath, therefore, in every season sent down upon mankind the showers of tests from His realm of glory” -and- “For the faith of no man can be conditioned by any one except himself.”
Do we who call ourselves Baha’is truly give our adherence to every clause of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s sacred Will, or are we simply giving lip service to the “Charter of the New World Order”? In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi on March 25, 1930, the first Guardian stated: “The contents of the Will of the Master is 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.” We have not had anywhere close to “at least a century” in which the provisions of the Will and Testament have been in actual operation, yet, through one means or another, the Baha’is have found ways to circumvent what the Will provides. Shoghi Effendi alludes to “treasures of wisdom hidden” within the Will. Do we have any notion of what he means? What are the “treasures of wisdom” in the Will? What makes them hidden? Why are they hidden?
One point that I do want to make before closing this post: I think it is important that believers recognize what ‘Abdu’l-Baha had to say about the embryo, for it is germane to Shoghi Effendi’s characterization of the International Baha’i Council as the embryonic Universal House of Justice. ‘Abdu’l-Baha stated that “the embryo possesses from the first all perfections…but they are not visible, and become so only by degrees.” You and I both know that when we talk about the human organism, it’s clear that the head of the embryo will remain the head through the various stages through which the organism evolves. That same pattern pertains to the embryonic Universal House of Justice with its embryonic head.
Therefore, Chess, with regard to my viewpoint, the summing-up statement that you made at the close of your recent posting is an accurate one.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 04:20:55 GMT
Oct. 29, 1998
“Let’s face it, folks–we Baha’is have screwed up badly by allowing others to lead us by the nose and tell us what the Covenant meant.”
There is undoubtedly much truth in what you have said here, Michela. And I agree that we “should study the documents.” But I’m not sure I know what you mean by “holistically,” for I have seen that term used for different purposes in different ways. I surmise, though, that because you have indicated that “Both sides have chosen to ignore, overlook, or selectively interpret the Will and Testament,” that you maintain that the entire document can somehow be taken in and comprehended as a whole. I’m wondering if you can explain how that can be done.
When each of us deals with the context of the Will and Testament, we each bring our own contextual sets with us–and they are all different. Thus, for each of us our experience with the Will and Testament is going to be the joint product of who we are and what we bring with us to our encounter(s) with the Will, as well as what is in the Will itself. And our context may or may not have included within it what Shoghi Effendi said about the Will. If we approach the document from the perspective of a follower of the Haifa Universal House of Justice, that perspective is clearly going to be different from the perspective of an Orthodox Baha’i, and both of these perspectives will be different from that of a newcomer to the teachings of the Faith who has no historical background whatsoever with relation to the Will. So for you to talk about a holistic approach to the documents creates more questions for me than I may have had previously, when, in my latest response to Chess Hazlett, I asked whether anyone had any notion with regard to what Shoghi Effendi referred to as “the treasures of wisdom hidden in it.”
During my exploration into general semantics, I found the subject of contexts to be a fascinating one. We should know, for instance, that all words within a given context interact upon one another–whether those words are within a phrase, a clause, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a book, a set of volumes, etc. And then, once you have thrown in our personal experiences with the words that are found within a given context, you have the framework for the reading experience. As much as is possible, the interpretations that we make need to be based on the totality of contexts. So, Michela, if this is what you are referring to by your use of the word “holistically,” then I am in agreement with you; and, as I indicated above, I’d like to know from you how we should embark upon such an enterprise. What’s the best way to understand the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha?
Naturally, we could approach the Will by way of the authorized interpreter whom we all accept (Shoghi Effendi), and we could view the Will from the larger context that he provided when he said that the Will is to be considered as the “Charter of the New World Order.” From him we are given to understand that the Will and the Aqdas are “inseparable parts of one complete unit.” We also know the Will to be “the Child of the Covenant”, that it is “the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him [Baha’u’llah] Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One [‘Abdu’l-Baha] Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient.” So, according to Shoghi Effendi, we know that the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l- Baha can no more “be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it.”
In the beloved Guardian’s other statements about the Will, what other views do you feel would be instructive in our holistic approach? In other words, what specific documents of Shoghi Effendi’s are applicable? Should we incorporate the entire Administrative Order section of the “Dispensation” into the context at hand? Or should we leave it out? And when the decision is made to use or not to use the “Dispensation”–or any other of Shoghi Effendi’s writings–upon what basis will we make that decision?
Truly we are in the area of judgment calls, but it will not profit us to put down other’s perspectives on the basis of what we ourselves may see as “facile rationalizations.” If we could truly come to grips with how others have arrived at their conclusions regarding the meaning of the Will and Testament, we might better understand the Will itself and perhaps come to some awareness of “the treasures of wisdom hidden in it.”
At this time, my own perspective starts with Shoghi Effendi’s reference to the Will as the “Child of the Covenant.” The Covenant in this case is that bond between Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha which produced the Will. And since the Will is likened to a “child,” the connotation that I apply to the Will is something more than the product of both Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha. It is also an organism that will not have all of its features in place at once. In “Some Answered Questions” ‘Abdu’l-Baha, in talking about the origin of man, relates how “the embryo in the womb of the mother, gradually grew and developed, and passed from one form to another, from one shape to another, until he appeared with this beauty and perfection, this force and this power.” Later in the same book ‘Abdu’l-Baha says: “The seed does not at once become a tree, the embryo does not at once become a man, the mineral does not suddenly become a stone. No, they grow and develop gradually, and attain the limit of perfection.”
So it is my thesis that the Will, the Child of the Covenant, cannot be expected to be fulfilled all at once. Yes, ‘Abdu’l-Baha identified the Guardian as the “sacred head” of the Universal House of Justice, but all Baha’is are agreed that when Shoghi Effendi became Guardian there was no UHJ. Nor were there any Hands. Thus, the powers identified within the Will were latent powers. They were like the web-like appendages that one sees in a human embryonic organism that gradually evolve into hands and fingers, etc. It is my belief that our task as Baha’is is to do what we can to insure that this “Child of the Covenant” has a chance to evolve into this world with all of its features in working order.
The world cannot afford to have this Child aborted or killed once it is born and just beginning to expand its powers for the good of mankind.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1998 16:51:48 GMT
“Frank…we appear to be at a quandary.”
Chess, my dictionary says that a quandary is “a state of perplexity or uncertainty, a dilemma,” and I’m not sure that you or I view the situation in which the Baha’i Faith finds itself today with feelings of perplexity or uncertainty. A dilemma, of course, is a situation that requires a choice between two evils, or it is an argument that forces an opponent to choose one of two alternatives equally unfavorable to him or her. And I don’t get the impression, Chess, that you consider the choice you have made as a choice between two evils, or as an unfavorable alternative.
I think the term that is more appropriate for our present debate is the word “impasse”: a position from which there is no escape, a deadlock, because I, too, do not have the feeling that the choice I have made is one between two evils. Granted, I do not like being labelled as a “Covenant-breaker”, even though the meaning of that term has been changed by the leadership of your administrative order from what it was originally intended to mean. But that’s a fact of life. ‘Words don’t mean; people mean.’ That is, with the passage of time, the meanings of words change to fit new circumstances.
I know now, for instance, that the meaning of the word “Covenant-breaker” for your organization is essentially this: one who rejects the authority within the Cause and attempts to subvert the decisions of that authority. Normally, the term is applied to an individual who is within your organization and who has pledged his loyalty to the authority. However, the term is also used to label anyone who accepted Mason Remey as the second Guardian of the Faith, or any of those individuals who now call themselves Orthodox Baha’is, regardless of whether they were ever within the organization that is now headed by the Haifa UHJ.
As I have indicated in a previous article, an accepted definition of the term “Covenant-breaker” in Shoghi Effendi’s ministry was along the lines of what Hand of the Cause John Ferraby provided in his earliest editions of “All Things Made New” when he wrote: “These Covenant-breakers profess to accept the teachings of Baha’u’llah but they turn away from the Centre of the Cause–in the day of the Centre of the Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and in our day, the Guardian–and thereby they deny what they profess to accept.” (Page 251 of 1957 edition.)
When Mason Remey issued his Proclamation in 1960, the other Hands, who were then in control of the Faith, decided that Mason Remey and his followers had to be called Covenant-breakers, even though Mason Remey and his followers had not turned away from either ‘Abdu’l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi.
In the book “The Ministry of the Custodians 1957-1963” (Pub. Baha’i World Center, 1992)one finds that Hasan Balyuzi, one of the Hands at the time of Mason Remey’s proclamation, initially expressed his strong disapproval of the action of the Hands to declare Mason Remey and his followers as covenant-breakers. Though he declared Mason Remey’s position as “laughable, preposterous, abominable”–and, yes, “ridiculous”–he nevertheless said, “But I cannot accept the thesis that the Hands have the authority to expel anyone for this reason. Where do the Hands obtain their authority to expel anyone from the Community?”
He then went on to write: “From the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha’, these are the exact words of the Master, which I have read and read, and which I quote:
‘My object is to show that the Hands of the Cause of God must ever be 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 Baha, and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grevious error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men!’
“Perhaps I’m mistaken, but nowhere else have I found the express authority to expel people for any reason other than opposition to the Guardian. The Hands can and must expel anyone who associates with Covenant-breakers, old and new. They can and must expel anyone who disregards a definite injunction of the beloved Guardian. Such acts constitute opposition to Shoghi Effendi. But I’m convinced (and perfectly ready and willing at the same time to believe otherwise, if conclusive proofs are shown to me) that the Hands have no authority to expel anyone for any other reason, albeit they are exercising their indubitable right to protect the Faith. By doing so, the Hands will be setting up a new category of Covenant-breakers, for which they have no authority, as far as I can see it.”
However, Balyuzi later went along with the rest of the Hands, apparently feeling that the changed circumstances of the Faith called for a new definition of a Covenant-breaker, or else the other Hands provided him with undisclosed “conclusive proofs”.
Be all this as it may, you who have accepted that the Hands of the Faith had the right to assume control of the Faith on the basis of Shoghi Effendi’s having once called them “the Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth”–you now follow an institution that is called the Universal House of Justice. That is, the Hands and their followers have given that name to the institution that they first elected in 1963. But, according to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the institution is not complete. And, based upon one of the earliest decisions of the Haifa UHJ, it will not be complete for at least a thousand years, because that Universal House of Justice, as we all know, stated that it found “no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.”
It is clear to me that the followers of the Haifa UHJ are sincere in their belief that the authority exercised by their supreme body is a divinely-vested authority. It is equally clear to me that certain provisions within the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha must, of necessity to that organization, be ignored–just as much of the Administrative Order section of Shoghi Effendi’s “Dispensation” must also be dismissed as no longer applicable to the Haifa organization. It is perhaps on this basis, Chess, that you used the word “quandary” in your recent post, for to an individual who maintains that the line of Guardians ended with Shoghi Effendi, you do face two unfavorable alternatives: 1) the choice you have now made, a mutilated organizational pattern, or 2) the choice that Ruhiyyih Khanum identified in “Twenty-Five Years of the Guardianship” when she 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.”
Does the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha offer any other alternatives?
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 14:53:11 GMT
I want to thank you for your candor and for the even-handed manner in which you have dealt with the information provided in this matter before us. In addition, I want to commend you for the understanding you have shown with regard to the many details that we have thus far explored together. Your grasp of the essential elements in the stated positions of the Haifa organization and of the Orthodox Baha’is has shown that you are indeed “close to the Faith”, and I, for one, welcome your sincere investigation and look forward to continued exchanges with you. Based upon the depth of your previous communications, I anticipate that you are not going to be satisfied with a superficial knowledge of the Cause and, therefore, that you will not be satisfied with arguments of your own or of others that are not backed up with textual knowledge. The Faith of Baha’u’llah truly needs believers who manifest such characteristics.
I thank you, too, for acknowledging what you perceive as my more deepened view of the Will and Testament, but I’m afraid that what I know regarding the Will is only the result of having wondered about it for almost forty years. As you know, in one of my earlier posts I introduced Shoghi Effendi’s statement of March 25, 1930, pertaining to the need for “at least a century of actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be revealed,” and I want to come to some knowledge of what those treasures are. As a consequence, I don’t want anything that has been revealed in the Will by the Master (and by extension, Baha’u’llah) to come to naught.
You asked in your most recent post if I couldn’t “grant that they [meaning those who are Haifa Baha’is] are actually following the W&T as best they can”. In response, let me give you a bit of my background. I became a Baha’i in April of 1959 and shortly thereafter married a Baha’i girl whose mother had been a Baha’i since 1928. When I made my declaration to the local spiritual assembly, I had but a cursory knowledge of the Will and Testament, for at that time people who were being taught the Faith were not exposed to the entire Will. Instead, we were taught from excerpt versions of the Will. Nevertheless, I knew enough from my reading that the Will called for a Guardian as the Center of the Cause, and when I declared I asked the LSA members how I was supposed to rationalize the absence of the Guardian. I was told that it was a matter that I would have to take on faith, and I made my declaration on that basis.
One year later Mason Remey made his proclamation, and because during that year my mother-in-law had insisted that I know the entire Will and had gone through the entire document with me, word by word and line by line, our entire family accepted his Guardianship on the basis of our understanding of the Will. Imagine my shock, then, when all those other Baha’is condemned my family and me without giving any consideration whatsoever to why we had made the choice we did. Thus, within just a couple of months of our acceptance of Mason Remey’s Guardianship, we resigned as members of the Haifa organization and, following our resignations, were accused of carrying on “covenant-breaking activities.”
Chess, I wasn’t a Baha’i in 1957 when Shoghi Effendi died, and when I became a Baha’i I certainly did not know anything about the International Baha’i Council, for in 1959 the ones who were in control of the Faith were Shoghi Effendi’s appointed Hands. I really came to a full awareness regarding the IBC subsequent to Mason Remey’s proclamation, and I found that Shoghi Effendi’s January 9, 1951, proclamation of the establishment of the IBC to be an absolutely stunning one. When I reflected on the manner in which Shoghi Effendi trumpeted the Council’s formation, identifying it as “potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since the inception of the Administrative Order of the Faith on the morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Ascension, ranking second only to the glorious immortal events associated with the Ministries of the Three Central Figures of the Faith…,” I realized that on the death of Shoghi Effendi the institution that everyone should have turned to was not the institution of the Hands but, instead, the International Baha’i Council. The appointment of the Hands by Shoghi Effendi came in December of 1951, nearly a year after the formation of the Council, and Shoghi Effendi said that that step “paralleled the preliminary measure of the formation of the International Council, destined to culminate in the emergence of the Universal House of Justice.”
So, upon Shoghi Effendi’s death in 1957, even if there were no consideration whatsoever given to the issue of the Guardian’s successor, the institution that the Baha’i world should have turned to was the International Baha’i Council. That Council should have been the focus, not the institution of the Hands. But from the outset the Council was ignored. In her November 5, 1957, announcement in a cablegram of the Guardian’s death, Ruhiyyih Khanum, the Guardian’s widow, wrote: “Urge believers remain steadfast, cling institution Hands lovingly reared, recently reinforced, emphasized by beloved Guardian.” And in the United States a day later, the NSA informed the friends that “The Hands of the Cause will meet in Haifa shortly thereafter [following the funeral of Shoghi Effendi on November 9] after which announcement will be made to the Baha’i World concerning the future direction of the Faith.”
I can grant, Chess, that because of the direction that was taken by the Haifa organization back in 1957, and which that organization’s members found impossible to modify in 1960, that “they actually are following the W&T as best they can.” But I don’t think it’s good enough.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Sun, 01 Nov 1998 20:17:07 GMT
Richard Schaut stated:
> The issue doesn’t hinge on technicalities, and the problem with getting very
> deeply involved in a discussion of any technical issues is that it obscures
> the salient facts, facts which are not in dispute, upon which the issue of
> any successor to Shoghi Effendi must hinge. These salient facts are: 1) that
> Shoghi Effendi passed away without issue; 2) that Shoghi Effendi never
> explicitly appointed a successor; and 3) that Shoghi Effendi never sought the
> assent of the Hands of the Cause regarding any appointment he is alleged to
> have made.
I agree that Richard’s three numbered items are statements of fact.
I disagree with Richard’s view that “In light of this, there really are only two possibilities.” There actually is at least a third, which is that the divine guidance that Baha’is have felt to be promised the Baha’i Faith actually is not there, and thus the administrative order will simply end up being a man-made product.
I also disagree with Richard’s position that if Shoghi Effendi appointed a successor and subsequently “failed to implement the provision [of the Will] regarding the assent of the Hands of the Cause,” that such a failure on Shoghi Effendi’s part would “constitute a violation of the provisions of the Master’s Will and Testament.” The reason why I think that Richard is wrong is that the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha does not make it incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint Hands. Granted, the Will establishes that it is the Guardian who is the one responsible for appointing whatever Hands there are, but the Will doesn’t say that Hands must be appointed. Because of the other provisions within the Will, I think most people assume that ‘Abdu’l-Baha made it mandatory for the Guardian to appoint Hands. After all, there are designated responsibilities for the Hands, most important of which, I think, is their responsibility to “diffuse the sweet savors of God…”
But note what the Will says: “O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the guardian of the Cause of God.”
To be sure, when there is a sufficient number of Hands of the Cause available, one of their important duties is that they “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.” However, during the lifetime of Shoghi Effendi, when there were enough Hands to have such an election, that election was not held. In point of fact, it also wasn’t held after Shoghi Effendi’s death. It is the elected body of nine Hands that is charged with the responsibility of assenting to the choice of the Guardian’s successor. If, then, there was a violation of the Master’s Will, it would appear that the Hands were at fault for not having such an election and seeing to it that those nine persons were “at all times…occupied in the important services in the work of the guardian…” After all, the Will is explicit in this matter:
“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.”
Why didn’t THAT election take place? Is the fact that it didn’t take place sufficient cause to set aside a host of other provisions in the Will and Testament? For a moment, completely put aside the history of the Faith from 1957 to 1998 , and set up the following hypothetical situation. Consider that the Guardian of the Faith makes the choice of his successor and he announces it to the Baha’i world. Consider that there are a sufficient number of Hands of the Faith at the time to elect from their own number the nine who are to assent to the Guardian’s choice of his successor. Now throw into the mix that, for whatever reason, the Hands of the Faith do not hold their election of the nine Hands. Would that mean that the Guardian’s choice of his successor would be invalidated by this action or non-action of the Hands?
I think Shoghi Effendi answered that question when, in the “Baha’i News” of Feb. 1955, he said that “The statement in the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha does not imply that the Hands of the Cause of God have been given the authority to overrule the Guardian. ‘Abdu’l-Baha could not have provided for a conflict of authority in the Faith. This is obvious…”
Finally, I do want to note that I also disagree with the position espoused by Richard when he says: “As for the disposition of the Huquq’u’llah, that’s provided for in the Kitab-i Aqdas itself.” The Kitab-i-Aqdas does not explicitly identify the recipient of the Huquq. The identity of the one to receive the Huquq is in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha; the Huquq is to be “offered through the guardian of the Cause of God.” Those who interpret the passage in the Kitab-i-Aqdas that refers to the “endowments dedicated to charity” apparently believe that those endowments are the same thing as the Huquq. Through that interpretation they have sought to make it possible for the Haifa UHJ to administer the Huquq, just as they have interpreted that passage of Baha’u’llah’s to be “One of the most striking passages which envisage the possibility of…a break in the line of Guardians.” Neither conclusion can be looked upon as explicitly provided by the Aqdas. The interpretations to arrive at such conclusions were not made by either ‘Abdu’l Baha or Shoghi Effendi, and I believe that those interpretations are wrong.
Nov. 2, 1998
First, Chess, just a small clarification: It was not Mason Remey who said that Shoghi Effendi made the appointment of him as the second Guardian in the manner that he did because Shoghi Effendi was aware that he would die in the near future. In one of his encyclical letters, written after his proclamation, Mason Remey wrote: “Now _why_ Shoghi Effendi made my appointment of Guardianship in the particular way in which he did, I do not know.”
It has been those of us who followed Mason Remey who looked for explanations for the appointment to be made in the way it was. It is we who have come up with such justifications as have been offered.
Your position, Chess, is that such an appointment “would require a gross lack of foresight on the part of the guardian…and I can’t attribute that to him. For him not to have perceived this ‘end result’ wherein almost six million Baha’is worldwide have ‘gone astray’ because of his method of ‘declaring a successor without declaring a successor’ is simply incomprehensible to me, whatever the reasoning behind it.”
I would stipulate that the whole matter is unreasonable.
And yet– Are you familiar with the Battle of Badr in the second year of the Hegira? It’s my understanding that a mere 300+ men under Muhammad, mostly unarmed, fought against a well-armed Meccan army, a force that included experienced warriors and who numbered over a thousand, and defeated them. That certainly was unreasonable, too. Or take the case of Gideon in the Bible. That, also, was unreasonable. In like manner, in the annals of the Babi Faith we have the example of the defenders of Shaykh Tabarsi, who, at the outset, numbered some 300 Babis untrained in the art of war who remained undefeated, even though regiment after regiment of soldiers were dispatched to conquer them. The opposers were only able to bring about their surrender after ignominiously making an oath on the Qu’ran to permit them safe passage and then slaughtering them when they came out of the fort.
Perhaps it would be well to remember that the Covenant of Baha’u’llah actually is not dependent upon the Baha’is. Rather, the success of our efforts to establish His Administrative Order is dependent upon the power of the Covenant. And that is probably unreasonable, too.
Indeed, so much that is related to the dispensations of the Prophets of God simply has to be looked upon as unreasonable. It’s unreasonable that Moses could have led His people, it’s unreasonable that the Christian faith would have spread in the manner that it did, it’s unreasonable that Muhammad’s influence in the world would be what it is today. Thus, it shouldn’t be any great shock to experience the unreasonable-ness of God’s testing his servants within the Baha’i Cause to insure that they abide within the Covenant. But it is unreasonable.
The Bab affirmed: “Should it be Our wish, it is in Our power to compel, through the agency of but one letter of Our Revelation, the world and all that is therein to recognize, in less than the twinkling of an eye, the truth of Our Cause.” Now, Chess, DON’T ask me why that didn’t happen!
Obviously, Chess, the reason why people like me are Orthodox Baha’is is because we have the perverse notion that the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is sacrosanct and that, unreasonable or not, somebody needs to abide by that Document, no matter what.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 16:51:07 GMT
Richard Schaut wrote:
> Is the Master’s Will and Testament Passe’? Only if we do precisely what Mr.
> Schlatter has done.
I get the impression, Richard, that your dictionary has a different definition for the word “passe'” than mine. My dictionary says that the word means “past, past its usefulness; out-of-date.” What is it that I have done to make the Will passe’? Throughout this thread my recommendation has been for the Haifa UHJ to declare the Will to be passe’ because insofar as the organization for which it is the authority is concerned the Will is no longer useful. Truly, any organization that calls itself Baha’i and which is minus a living Guardian cannot consider the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha to be a current document. So, clearly, for that organization the Will is passe’.
You have indicated, Richard, that I have introduced issues that are “irrelevant to the fundamental question.” What do you see as the fundamental question, and what issues have I introduced that are unrelated to it?
You have also indicated, Richard, that my logic is flawed, saying that I have begged the question. In my introductory post to this thread I identified 10 statements from the Will and Testament that the Haifa organization can no longer see as operational. On the basis of those statements, I have suggested that the Haifa UHJ should openly declare the Will of ‘Abdul’-Baha to be passe’. My contention has been that such an action by the Haifa UHJ would mean that the members of that organization would no longer be distracted by the provisions of the Master’s Will and they can therefore proceed to make whatever adjustments they feel necessary to develop their administrative order. What is so illogical about that?
I might point out also that your most recent post appears to be predicated on the assumption that the acceptance by Orthodox Baha’is of Mason Remey’s Guardianship came prior to an exploration into the Writings themselves. I did not say that we accepted Mason Remey’s Guardianship before studying the Sacred Text. We accepted his Guardianship on the basis of having studied the writings of the Faith. I know for a fact that to accept his Guardianship makes as much sense as to accept the takeover by the Hands of the Faith on the basis of a single reference to them by Shoghi Effendi as the “Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth”. The explanations that we have developed in discussing why Shoghi Effendi made his appointment of Mason Remey in the way that he did came after–not before–our acceptance of his Guardianship.
Finally, you have made reference to my creative interpretations of a number of the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will, for which you provide no supporting documentation; and, in all fairness, you should provide some specifics to support that view, even though you went on to say that it “is not the logical fallacies themselves” that have placed me outside Baha’u’llah’s Covenant. Rather, you say, I am a covenant-breaker because of my support of an illegitimate claim to leadership within the Baha’i Faith. Richard, can you provide supporting documentation from the writings of the Faith to show how the take-over by the Hands in 1957 made them the legitimate authority of the Faith? And bearing in mind that ‘Abdu’l-Baha was Baha’u’llah’s authorized Interpreter, can you establish unequivocally that a Universal House of Justice that is minus its “sacred head” should be identified as the Faith’s legitimate authority? If you can do that, perhaps I–and anyone else who is reading this thread–will see the error of my ways.
I look forward to studying your documentation.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Wed, 04 Nov 1998 16:58:09 GMT
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
email@example.com (LaAeterna) wrote:
> I think this is what happened with both the Remey followers and those who set
> up the Universal House without the Guardian. Neither can find explicit textual
> refeences allowing their function as they stand now. So—perhaps finger
> pointing and labeling are inappropriate responses on either side.
So, Nancy, what’s your solution? Do you have an alternative in mind to the current situation? Granted that Baha’is shouldn’t be finger pointing and labeling at this time. What do you think Baha’is SHOULD be doing today? (What are you doing?)
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Fri, 06 Nov 1998 16:06:41 GMT
has been my experience over the course of a goodly number of years that a member of the Haifa organization will either attempt to pass off a number of judgments and inferences as proof, resort to name-calling, or back away from further discussion when he or she is asked to provide supporting documentation that would unequivocally establish the legitimacy of the actions of the Hands of the Faith when, following the death of Shoghi Effendi, they assumed control of the Cause and subsequently established their sans-Guardian UHJ. I do hope that such will not be the case in the current thread “Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha passe’?”, because I would really like to see whether anyone in the Haifa organization can provide something more than a series of assumptions and unauthorized interpretations to justify that which was done by the Hands when they proclaimed themselves the authorities for their administrative order.
Haifa Baha’is are quick to accuse Orthodox Baha’is of using flawed logic when we point to Shoghi Effendi’s proclamation of January 9, 1951, establishing the embryonic Universal House of Justice and extolling that action in the most laudatory of terms, and then our postulating that the succession of the Faith stemmed from that action by the first Guardian. In a similar vein, Orthodox Baha’is question how the Haifa Baha’is can maintain with assuredness that their reasoning is sound. We who believe that the institution of the Guardianship requires a living Guardian have maintained that, at the very least, following the first Guardian’s passing, the institution of the Faith that should have been looked to by all Baha’is was the International Baha’i Council–not the Hands of the Faith. After all, as the embryonic Universal House of Justice, the International Council would take precedence over those who, according to the Will and Testament, are to work under the direction of the Guardian of the Cause. Insofar as I can determine, the Will of the Master does not place the Hands of the Faith on the same level as the UHJ.
Unfortunately, though, from the very first announcement of Shoghi Effendi’s death by Ruhiyyih Khanum, the International Council was ignored and the institution of the Hands was highlighted. You will recall that in an earlier posting I pointed out that Ruhiyyih Khanum’s cablegram of November 5, 1957, said: “Urge believers remain steadfast, cling institution Hands lovingly reared, recently reinforced, emphasized by beloved Guardian.” Clearly, Ruhiyyih Khanum did not see the Council to be as important as the Hands, and apparently most NSA’s also viewed the Hands as the ones who should be in control of the Faith. Otherwise, the members of the 26 NSA’s at the time would not have passed resolutions that gave their support to the Hands. It was, of course, on this basis alone that the Hands could say that they had the legal authority to do what they did, for neither the interpretations and instructions of the first Guardian nor the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha provides for the exercise of such authority by the Hands.
So, when the situation is looked at logically, what was put into place was something other than what the writings have called for, and Shoghi Effendi’s constitution of the International Baha’i Council was by-passed for a new line of authority.
Aside from the NSA’s giving the Hands this authority, what statements in the writings were the Hands able to employ to justify their new position? Didn’t they seize upon Shoghi Effendi’s having characterized them as “the Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth”? And didn’t they maintain that they found further support for their position in Shoghi Effendi’s reference in a 4 June 1957 statement to their twin functions of protecting and propagating the Faith of Baha’u’llah? Never mind that those functions of the Hands were already established in the Will and Testament.
Indeed, those functions weren’t something that Shoghi Effendi dreamed up. The Will says “that 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 Baha.” And, of course, it indicates that “The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances…” So the protection and propagation functions of the Hands cannot be looked upon as adequate justification for their takeover. ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will simply does not provide for such an interpretation.
Upon what authority, then, did the Hands assume control? The answer is a simple one. They did it on their own recognizance and with the blessing of the NSA’s. They certainly did not do it on the basis of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha because, for them, the Will and Testament was no longer a viable instrument to guide their administrative order. No, as the Department for the Secretariat of the Haifa UHJ stated in a 4 June 1997 letter, “the Hands of the Cause concluded that, among all the then existing institutions of the Faith, it was upon them, as Chief Stewards, that the responsibility for directing the affairs of the Cause rested pending the election of the Universal House of Justice.”
So I ask once more: Can any Haifa Baha’i provide sufficient documentation to establish conclusively that the Hands had the authority of the writings of the Faith to do what they did when they assumed control of the Faith? Does the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha–the “Charter of the New World Order”–provide an irrefutable basis for the formation of a Universal House of Justice that is minus its “sacred head””?
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Sun, 08 Nov 1998 21:25:59 GMT
Richard McKinley has stated that my reference to the International Baha’i Council “is something of a red herring across the trail.” I disagree. The reference to the International Council is not a means of drawing attention from the real issue. The issue at hand is whether the Will and Testament for the Haifa organization is passe’. If, therefore, the International Baha’i Council was identified by Shoghi Effendi as the embryonic Universal House of Justice, and if, as Shoghi Effendi has said, the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice are the “two fundamental organs of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha” (p. 147 of “The World Order of Baha’u’llah”), then the reference to the International Council is definitely germane.
Clearly, the obsolescence of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha for the vast majority of Baha’is came when they accepted the Hands of the Faith as their chief authority in the Cause, for once they gave the Hands the right to act as their collective Guardian, they found it impossible to see that the embryonic Universal House of Justice was already conceived and in place as an organism that awaited the next stage in its evolution. (As you know, the next stage for the Council, as set forth by Shoghi Effendi, was one of the goals of the ten year crusade: its evolution into a Baha’i Court in the Holy Land–a stage which the Hands by-passed.)
Richard, you have said that Shoghi Effendi extolled the Hands “as the Faith’s highest ranking officers after the Guardian and the House of Justice.” I’m not sure I have ever seen where Shoghi Effendi called the Hands “officers.” Chief Stewards–or chief servants–yes, but not officers. In a letter written on his behalf in 1957, Shoghi Effendi said that “the Rank and Position of the Hands of the Cause are superior to the position of the National Assemblies,” and my tattered copy of “Messages to the Baha’i World” tells me that, in a cablegram of February 29, 1952, he did refer to their “direction of institutions paralleling those revolving around the Universal House of Justice,” so, perhaps, that is where you got the concept of officers. Or do you have one or more specific instances where Shoghi Effendi identified the Hands as the “highest ranking officers”?
I do believe, Richard, that your aside regarding Shoghi Effendi’s formation of the International Baha’i Council in January of 1951–“in a cablegram, not a proclamation”–is a means of denying the importance of what the first Guardian wrote. If that should be the case, I believe you will also need to recognize that any number of the Guardian’s references to the Hands were also in cablegrams (most of the appointments of the Hands, for instance, came through cablegrams). So maybe the Hands were not so important either.
I would note, though, that the word “Proclaim” is the first word of the Guardian’s message of January 9, 1951, establishing the International Baha’i Council. Was that word used with regard to the appointment of the Hands? If so, I don’t see it in the writings that I have.
No, Richard, my reference to the International Baha’i Council was not–is not–a red herring.
Naturally, at this time there is no way to know what would have happened if, in 1957, all the Baha’is had had their attention directed to the International Baha’i Council instead of to the institution of the Hands. So, Richard, your questions about what the Council would have done differently, or what Mason Remey would have done differently are obviously moot. We will never get the answers to those questions in this world.
In addition, none of us can say what Shoghi Effendi had in mind by having extolled the International Baha’i Council in the manner he did and then maintained it in an inactive state. Nor can we know why he himself did not identify himself as that body’s president, unless he had something else in mind when he brought that embryonic institution into being.
Finally, Richard, I am not going to accuse you of name-calling. You certainly were not guilty of that, for which I thank you. I do believe, though, that you have provided a number of judgments and inferences to support the position you have espoused. I am particularly interested, for instance, in your providing some specifics regarding what you described as “a challenge and test that flies in the face of the teachings of Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the explanations of Shoghi Effendi.”
Would you please identify at least some of the teachings and explanations that you make reference to here? I would further request that you emphasize the teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the explanations of Shoghi Effendi because it is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha which is the true focus–the Document that, as the first Guardian has stated, “confirms, supplements, and correlates the provisions of the Aqdas.” So the emphasis should be on what the authorized Interpreters have provided us inasmuch as Shoghi Effendi told us “the system of Baha’i administration derives its authority from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, is specifically prescribed in unnumbered Tablets, and rests in some of its essential features upon the explicit provisions of the Kitab-i- Aqdas.” (WOB, p. 5)
Certainly, references may be made to what was specifically prescribed and what was explicitly provided for by Baha’u’llah; but for the rest, it is the statements of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and the explanations of Shoghi Effendi that should be the focus. After all, as Shoghi Effendi stated, “By leaving certain matters unspecified and unregulated in His Book of Laws, Baha’u’llah seems to have deliberately left a gap in the general scheme of Baha’i Dispensation, which the unequivocal provisions of the Master’s Will has filled.” (WOB, p. 4)
Therefore, please bear in mind, if you will, that it is my contention that a number of those “unequivocal provisions of the Master’s Will” are no longer operational for the Haifa organization, and that is why I have recommended that, insofar as your organization is concerned, the authority for your administrative order should declare the Will as passe’.
Subject: Re: Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha Passe’?
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 03:40:40 GMT
If the subject for the thread “Is the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha passe’?” were written in the form of a debate question, it might read as follows: “Resolved that the Haifa Universal House of Justice should declare the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha as no longer operational for its followers.”
And if the pro and con arguments that have appeared thus far in this thread were analyzed carefully, the arguments in favor of such a resolution are clearly more compelling by far than those that oppose the idea. To show what I mean, let’s review some of the arguments that the members of the Haifa side have either allowed to stand without rebuttal, or in making their arguments they resorted to inferences and judgments and thus failed to provide supporting documentation for their views.
(1) My very first posting alone contained ten statements from the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha about which I said the followers of the Haifa organization no longer need to be concerned, since those provisions are no longer operational for the Haifa body. Naturally, most of the statements pertain to the role of the Guardian of the Faith; i.e., the need for obedience to the Guardian, the provision that the Guardian must appoint his successor in his own life-time; the need for the Hands to elect nine who would serve the Guardian directly; the provision that the Guardian is to nominate and appoint Hands, who are to be under his direction; and, of course, the identification of the Guardian as the “sacred head and the distinguished member for life” of the UHJ. In addition, I included the statement in the Will that the UHJ is to enact laws that are not a part of the Divine Explicit Text, and it is clear that the Haifa UHJ can no longer claim to be in accord with that provision inasmuch as the Haifa UHJ has changed what is within the Will and Testament itself. (Shoghi Effendi said that the Will and the Aqdas are “inseparable parts of one complete unit”; hence neither can be changed by the Universal House of Justice.) No one has taken issue with the view that those 10 statements are no longer viable for the Haifa organization.
(2) To date, no one from the Haifa organization’s perspective has countered the view that ‘Abdu’l- Baha emphasized the importance of the spiritual family over the physical family, a position that I supported by what He said in His last Tablet to America. In addition, those who maintain that the word “branch” in ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will must mean a blood-line descendant of Baha’u’llah have made an interpretation of the word “branch” that does not completely square with what the Research Department of the Haifa UHJ had to say on the meaning of the words “ghusn” and “Aghsan”. In a memorandum of 12 October 1994 pertaining to an inquiry by an individual who is not a Haifa Baha’i, the Dept. wrote that “It is clear…that there could not be any authoritative statement limiting the meaning of these two words [ghusn and Aghsan] as they are by nature metaphorical.”
(3) To date, those from the Haifa organization have not provided statements from the writings that unequivocally show that the Hands of the Faith had the right to become a kind of collegial Guardian of the Cause, an interim authority which the Hands assumed in 1957 after the passing of Shoghi Effendi.
(4) No documents of Shoghi Effendi’s have been produced from Haifa Baha’is that would counteract the first Guardian’s statement of November 27, 1954, that the construction of the International Baha’i 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.”
(5) No Haifa Baha’i has provided documentation to show that the qualifications for a believer in the Faith as set forth by Shoghi Effendi on October 24, 1925, were changed so that the believer no longer has to give his or her “loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved’s sacred Will.” And yet the actions of the authorities within the Haifa organization have made it impossible for such adherence to be given. For this reason alone, then, the Haifa authority should declare the Will passe’.
(6) No Haifa Baha’i has provided documentation to discount what ‘Abdu’l-Baha had to say about the embryo; thus, there has not been a counter-statement presented from the Writings to irrefutably discount the Orthodox Baha’i position that the International Baha’i Council, the embryonic Universal House of Justice, had all its perfections, but they were not immediately visible.
(7) Insofar as I can tell, no Haifa Baha’is have provided any kind of a rebuttal to my view that their organization changed the meaning of “covenant-breaking” subsequent to the passing of Shoghi Effendi. The identification of Covenant-breakers, according to their organization, now extends beyond ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s statement in the Will that 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 Baha’.” Their definition of a “covenant-breaker” is anyone who goes against the authority in their organization– the Hands between 1957 and 1963 and then the Haifa UHJ from then on.
(8) There has been silence on the issue that the Hands of the Faith during Shoghi Effendi’s lifetime did not elect “from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the guardian…” and Shoghi Effendi’s statement of Feb. 1955 in which the first Guardian said that in His Will, the Master could not have given the Hands the authority to overrule the Guardian. (That statement, I believe, would also apply to actions of the Hands after the death of the first Guardian.)
(9) No one within the Haifa organization seems willing to admit that when the Haifa UHJ took over the Huquq it found it necessary to INTERPRET a passage from the Aqdas which it identified as “one of the most striking passages which envisage the possibility of…a break in the line of Guardians.” The UHJ interpreted “endowments dedicated to charity” to be the same as the Huquq, and then, because of its interpretation that the terms “Aghsan” and “Guardians” are somehow synonymous, the Haifa body took the reference to the House of Justice after the word “Aghsan” to mean that it had the right to receive the Huquq. But, of course, the terms “Aghsan” and “Guardian” are not identified by either ‘Abdu’l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi as synonymous; nor has anyone in the Haifa organization shown the Interpreters’ interpretations on “endowments…” and the Huquq. At least, no one in the current thread has documented such interpretations.
(10) Individuals who are followers of the Haifa UHJ imply that the beliefs of Orthodox Baha’is fly “in the face of the teachings of Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and the explanations of Shoghi Effendi,” but when asked to provide some of the teachings and explanations that are counter to those espoused by Orthodox Baha’is, they do not give specific references from Baha’u’llah, and especially from the two Interpreters whom they accept: ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi.
In conclusion, then: Because the Haifa organization has actually abandoned some of the unequivocal provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the authority within that organization should announce to its followers that it has determined the Will to be passe’ and the believers within their organization no longer obligated to abide by the terms of that Document.
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Personal Experiences of Orthodox Bahá’ís Upon Leaving the Heterodox Organization — Their Concerns and Suggested Courses of Action.
My Experience in Becoming an Orthodox Bahá’í
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