— Focus on "lineal" and "lineage", not “Aghsán”
On October 15, 1960, the Hands of the Cause sent a long letter to the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world because — they said ” they wanted “to place before the believers certain facts and passages from the Sacred Writings of our Faith in refutation of these spurious and highly misleading statements [of Mason Remey].”
The Hands” first “fact” related to Mason Remey”s claim that he became the Guardian of the Faith based upon his presidency of the International Bah”” Council. They said that such a “contention requires a careful study of the Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Will and Testament, because this sacred document sets forth the conditions requisite for Guardianship in no uncertain terms. We must never forget for a moment,” they said, “that it was the Master Who established the Station of the Guardianship; and in fact appointed the successor of Shoghi Effendi, as between Shoghi Effendi”s first born, or another branch (Ghosn).”
They then cited the passage in the Will and Testament, which, as they attest, “clearly states”:
“He is the expounder of the Words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants”.” [Emphasis supplied by the Hands]
They then continued with the following quotation from the Will:
“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. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words: “The child is the secret essence of its sire”, that is, should he 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.”
The Hands followed that quotation by saying: “It has become clear during the past months that lack of knowledge of the meaning of the word “branch” as used in the Master”s Will and Testament has led to great confusion in certain quarters in the West.
“The word “Ghosn” (plural “Aghsán”) is an Arabic word, meaning “branch”.
“Bahá’u’lláh used this word specifically to designate his own male descendants. It does not apply to any other category of people”” They subsequently continued by focusing on uses of the word “Branch”, eventually stating: “Because of ignorance of the Arabic and Persian languages and the use of these two terms in our Sacred Texts, spurious arguments have been put forth by those making the false claim that Shoghi Effendi could have appointed a successor other than a blood descendant of Bahá’u’lláh.”
The Hands also said that “It should likewise be pointed out that neither in Persian nor Arabic are there ever any capital letters, so that it is impossible to deduce any arguments from a capitalization or lack of capitalization in the English texts.”
In their reference to the above passages of the Will, the Hands focused entirely on the meaning that they attributed to the word “branch,” apparently thinking that by so doing they dealt with “the conditions requisite for Guardianship” ” conditions that they felt ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had set forth “in no uncertain terms.” However, what the Hands — and their followers ” focused on were the wrong terms!
Those who read the quotations from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá s Will, cited by the Hands above, would be well-advised to study carefully two other words in those passages: the words “lineal” and “lineage.” Note that the first passage refers to the succession going to the first of the Guardian”s “lineal descendants.” And in the follow-up passage the reference is to the “glorious lineage” of the Guardian.
The words “lineal” and “lineage” take the matter completely out of any argument related to the Aghsán or Afnán. If the reader should check the dictionary meaning of the terms “lineal” and “lineage”, he or she will find that a “lineal descendant” is one who is “in the direct line of descent”, that is, the line tracks directly from the predecessor to the individual”the predecessor”s “lineage.”
In His Will ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says that if the Guardian’s lineage does not have the spiritual requisite, then it is essential that the Guardian go outside the lineage to choose his successor. Since Shoghi Effendi had no children, it’s clear that the successor he would choose would not be a blood relative to him. Orthodox “Bahá’ís believe that when Shoghi Effendi named Mason Remey as the head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice, he chose his successor in a way that was in keeping with that provision of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá s Will and Testament.
— The Erring Hands on Trial
A HYPOTHETICAL TRIAL HELD IN THE NEXT WORLD OF THEl
FORMER HANDS OF THE CAUSE OF GOD WHO,l
UPON THE PASSING OF SHOGHI EFFENDI IN 1957,l
DECLARED THE GUARDIANSHIP FOREVER ENDEDl
by Jeffrey A. Goldbergl
with contributions by Hand of the Cause of God Franklin Schlatterl
written under guidelines furnished by the third Guardian of the Causel
Joel B. Marangella
ACT ONE, Scene 1 (in the Abhá Kingdom) Reading of the Charges
[Court bailiff:] All rise. [All stand up] Hear ye! Hear ye! This Special Court of the Abhá Kingdom is now in session. The Honorable Chief Justice, Hand of the Cause of God Louis Gregory presiding.
[Louis Gregory:] Please be seated. This is a special court proceeding convened by the first Guardian of the Cause of God, Shoghi Effendi, for trial of certain former Hands of the Cause of God on charges of violating the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh following his passing on November 4, 1957. Allow me to introduce the Court. To my left are Hands of the Cause of God posthumously appointed by Shoghi Effendi during his ministry, Martha Root, John Esslemont, Keith Ransom-Keller and Roy Wilhelm. To my right are Hands of the Cause of God, appointed by Shoghi Effendi on Dec 24, 1951: Dorothy Baker, George Townshend, William Sutherland Maxwell, Valiyyu’llah Varqa, and appointed on Feb 29, 1952, Siegfried Schopflocher. Welcome distinguished and honorable justices.
[Various justices responding:] Allah’u’-Abhá!
[LG:] Will the defendants please rise while the bailiff reads the charges.
[Bailiff:] To the defendants, please rise:
You, and each of you,
Shoaullah Ala’i, Agnes Alexander, Hasan M. Balyuzi, Musa Banani, Amelia E. Collins, Clara Dunn, H. Collis Featherstone, John Ferraby, Ali Akbar Furutan, Dr. Ugo Giachery, Dr. Hermann Grossmann, Paul E. Haney, , Horace Holley, Leroy C. Ioas, Zikrullah Khadem, Amatu’l-Baha Rúhíyyih Khánum, Djalal Khazeh, Dr. Rahmatu’llah Mohajer, Dr. Adelbert Muhlschlegel, Enoch Olinga, John Robarts, Tarazu’llah Samandari, William Sears, Abu’l-Qasim Faizi Teherani, Corinne True, Dr. Ali Mohammad Varqa,
are hereby charged with knowingly, intentionally, and willfully acting to combine, conspire, confederate and agree with each other, and other persons known and unknown, to commit and aid and abet in the commission of certain high crimes and offenses against the Kingdom of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh and His Mighty Covenant. You have the right to defend and answer:
That, from on or about November 4, 1957 and for the several years thereafter, you and each of you committed the following violations:
1) The attempted termination of the Guardianship of the Cause of God and mutilation of the Bahá’í Administrative Order;
2) The flagrant repudiation of the Will and Testament of the “Center of the Covenant” `Abdu’l-Bahá falsely declaring certain provisions of His sacred and immutable Will to be inoperative, null and void;
3) The blatant and inexcusable usurpation of the powers, authority and dominion of the International Bahá’í Council, the embryonic Universal House of Justice, after deposing its President, the second Guardian of the Cause, Charles Mason Remey;
4) The unjustified subversion of the Guardianship and the International Baha’i Council by the illicit appointment of nine Hands to serve as the “Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith” and the erroneous attempt to empower that false entity, as claimed by them, with the “functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Faith;”
5) The rejection of and total opposition to the second Guardian of the Cause of God, Charles Mason Remey, and the unmitigated refusal to accept his Proclamation;
6) The illicit dissolution of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’í is of France without authority or justification, following its acceptance of Mason Remey as the second Guardian of the Faith.
7) The creation and formulation of a headless, sans-Guardian, so-called Universal House of Justice in place of the Supreme Body called for by His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh and by the Master, `Abdu’l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament;
8) The attempted destruction and mutilation of the highest Institutions of the Baha’i Administrative Order, including the Guardianship–”The Center of the Cause”– the Universal House of Justice, and the Hands of Cause of God, all of which said Institutions had been notably and heroically established and announced to the Bahá’í World by Shoghi Effendi prior to his passing;
9) The shameless and inexcusable campaign to mislead most of the Bahá’í world into shunning and rejecting the second Guardian of the Faith and those believers who accepted him and thereby had remained truly faithful to the Covenant and obedient to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and to influence the vast majority of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh to embrace their terribly Great Violation of His Covenant.
May God have mercy upon your souls.
[LG] The Defendants may be seated. How do you plead?
[Charles Wolcott] May it please the Court? I am Charles Wolcott, formerly Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and member of the Universal House of Justice as created by the Defendants. I have been selected by the Defendants to speak on their behalf. The Defendants plead not guilty, your honor, and wish to defend against the charges brought.
[LG] Very well, sir. The witnesses will be sworn by the bailiff. The Prosecutor shall be the distinguished Bahá’í, Thornton Chase. May the Truth be revealed.
[Bailiff]: Will the defendants please stand, raise your right hands and be sworn. Do you solemnly swear and affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so you help you God.
[Defendants (in unison)]: We do.
[LG:] Preliminary matters, counsel….
[TC] Your Honor, Both sides have entered a stipulation regarding the admissibility of certain documents into evidence.
[LG:] Excellent. That should save some time. Do you concur, Mr. Wolcott?
[CW] Yes your honor. The stipulation is that the documents are admitted without foundation and without prejudice to the right of the parties to argue the weight or relevancy of the exhibits during closing argument.
[TC] In addition, the failure of any party to object to the authenticity of the documents will not be a waiver. For example, we will not object to the admission of documents authored by the headless UHJ organized by the defendants, but that will not operate as a waiver of any argument we may have as to the lack of authority of such an entity.
[LG] That will be fine. What are the documents, counsel?
[TC] Your honor, the parties are submitting the following documents into evidence:
Daily Observations of the Bahá’í Faith Made to the Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land by Mason Remey,
Appeals to the Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land by Mason Remey,
Announcement to the Hands of the Faith from Mason Remey, the second Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith of his Appointment of Guardianship by the First Guardian of the Faith,
The Encyclical Letters to the Bahá’í World From Mason Remey Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, and Proclamation to the Bahá’ís of the World Through the Annual Convention of the Bahá’ís of the United States of America Assembled at Wilmette, Illinois Ridván 117 Bahá’í Era From Mason Remey the Second Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.
The Ministry of the Custodians, An account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause.
Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of France, Bernard Fillon’s detailed account of the events of April 23, 1960.
Announcement to all National Spiritual Assemblies dated October 6, 1963 from the so-called UHJ finding there was no way to appoint a second Guardian.
Letter, dated March 9, 1965, from the so-called UHJ on the appointment of the Guardian.
Letter, dated May 27, 1966, from the so-called UHJ on the relationship between the Guardianship and the UHJ.
Letter, dated December 7, 1969, from the so-called UHJ on the Guardianship and the UHJ
Letter, dated August 22, 1977, from the so-called UHJ on the infallibility of the Guardian and the UHJ.
Letter dated January 31, 1997, from the so-called UHJ on Mason Remey and those who followed him.
Letter dated June 4, 1997, by the so-called UHJ on the authority of the Hands to expel Covenant- breakers.
[LG] They shall be admitted into evidence. Anything else?
[TC] I would ask this court to take judicial notice of the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, `Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi, as well as pertinent cablegrams from Shoghi Effendi and pilgrim’s notes….
[LG] Granted. Of course, we will take notice of the contents of all of the Holy Texts and of the authenticated writings of Shoghi Effendi, including letters and his messages to the Baha’i World. The pilgrim’s notes will be admitted but, your stipulation regarding argument as to their weight or relevancy is reserved for closing argument. Agreed?
[TC] Yes, thank you
[CW] Agreed, your honor.
[LG] Mr. Chase, call your first witness.
ACT One, Scene 2 Prosecution
[TC:] Calling prosecution witness, His Eminence, Charles Mason Remey.
[LG:] Welcome Mr. Remey. The Court appreciates your participation in these proceedings. Please be seated.
[TC:] We are here in order to establish for the record your understanding of what transpired in the Faith after the death of Shoghi Effendi. But to begin, I’d like to get a bit of background information. Please state your name.
[MR:] My name is Charles Mason Remey, but I prefer Mason Remey.
[TC:] Mr. Remey, when and where were you born and how you did first learn of the Bahá’í Faith?
MR:] I was born in 1874 in Burhgton, Iowa, and I first heard of the Bahá’í message in 1899-1900 in Paris France, where I was then a student at the Beaux Arts, from May Elles Bolles, who later married Sutherland Maxwell. I then immediately accepted the Faith.
[TC:] And they were the parents of Mary Maxwell, who Shoghi Effendi, the first Guardian of the Faith, married in 1937?
[MR:] Yes, that is correct.
[TC:] And were you living in Haifa at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s passing in 1957?
[MR:] Yes. He had summoned me to come to Haifa in 1950 and had told me that henceforth I should consider it my home.
[TC:] Mr. Remey, I want to ask you some questions about the period in your life after the passing of Shoghi Effendi. Do you recall the events that took place following the funeral of Shoghi Effendi in London, England in November 1957?
[MR:] I most certainly do. As you know, I kept quite a detailed diary of the events that unfolded. We arrived back in the Holy Land on the morning of November 15, 1957. Leroy Ioas, also a permanent resident in Haifa, had stayed behind in Haifa to secure the Guardian’s apartment and effects. The first thing we did upon our arrival was to enter into the Guardian’s apartment for the first time.
[TC:] Who was present at the time?
[MR:] Rúhíyyih Khánum, Mrs. Collins, Dr. Giachery, Mr. Ioas, and I entered the apartment that morning. We sealed the safe and Shoghi Effendi’s desk to make sure that nobody could tamper with them.
[TC:] What happened next?
[MR:] All of the remaining Hands of the Cause arrived in the Holy Land over the next day or two, except for Madame. True, who was too ill to travel. A memorial service was held at the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh. Then the next day, on November 19th, nine of the Hands, including myself, entered the Guardian’s apartment once again, this time to search for a Will and Testament.
[TC:] What were you hoping to accomplish?
[MR:] At the time, all of us were stunned. We really did not have the time to think through all of the implications. The Guardian had been suddenly taken from us and we needed to find some guidance as to how he wanted us to proceed. We hoped that the Shoghi Effendi would have left us some document, perhaps a Will or a letter, that would have told us what we should do in the event of his death.
[TC:] What did you find?
[MR:] Unfortunately, not much of anything. We verified that the seals had not been broken. We carefully searched the safe and desk, but found no Will or any other document or instructions.
[TC:] What did the Hands decide to do next?
[MR:] That was about the time we drew up the Proclamation of the Hands in which we announced that Shoghi Effendi had not left a Will appointing his successor.
[TC:] Do you recall when that was?
[MR:] This was on November 25th just following our conclave.
[TC:] Mr. Remey, before we discuss the proclamation made by the Hands, I would like to know a little more about this secret conclave of the Hands. How did this meeting come about?
[MR:] After we confirmed that Shoghi Effendi had not left behind a Will or instructions in his office, we really did not know what to do next. You can imagine how we felt. The entire Bahá’í world was looking to us for guidance. As you know, I am sure, during Shoghi’s entire ministry, there were many rumors about an heir, a son, who had been placed into hiding for his protection. I think most Bahá’ís were waiting to hear from us about the identity of the second Guardian…
[TC:] Of course, he had no son….
[MR:] Of course, so what were we supposed to do? I think the Hands had no choice but to hold a meeting to discuss how to proceed, although such a meeting is not called for in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
[TC:] Why was the meeting held in secret?
[MR:] It was very unwise, but Ruyiyyih Khanum insisted upon it– that no minutes or notes were to leave the meeting. She felt that disunity might result unless we all agreed to keep it secret. So I went along with it, as did all of the others….
[TC:] Is there anything in the Writings of the Faith or in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to support the need for the Hands to meet in secret conclave on any occasion?
[MR:] Of course not. Indeed, there is really only one meeting of the Hands called for in the Writings, and that would be in the Master’s Will and Testament where it calls for an election by the Hands of nine of us to carry out the work of the Guardian in the Holy Land. Incidentally, this body of nine Hands was never called into being by Shoghi Effendi during his ministry. Certainly, I know of nothing in the Writings to require any meetings to be held in secret, especially a meeting of this importance.
[TC:] Why, then, did you consent to it?
[MR:] Like I said, I supported the idea of holding a meeting, what else could we do? I did not think the meeting should be secret. Frankly, we all obeyed Rúhíyyih because that is what we were used to. More often than not, Shoghi’s instructions were delivered through Rúhíyyih, so we were very used to obeying her directives… only at this time, her directives were not coming from Shoghi Effendi.
[TC:] What can you tell me about what happened at the first meeting of the Hands?
[MR:] On the first day, those of us who had searched Shoghi Effendi’s office reported to the group that we had found nothing at all. Then really I cannot recall anything happening, other than adjourning the meeting until the next morning.
[TC:] There was no discussion of what to do next?
[MR:] Strangely enough, we really did not discuss it. There were various matters of business discussed but we had no direction or agenda, and the meeting had not even begun until the afternoon, so the meeting was adjourned.
[TC:] What happened the next day?
[MR:] Well, the Persian Hands had remained in the Mansion of Bahjí, while the rest of us returned to Haifa for the night. The next morning, we returned to Bahjí and resumed our meeting. After prayers, we began to discuss the Guardianship and the lack of a Will from Shoghi Effendi.
[TC:] What was discussed?
[MR:] Actually, as I recall, there was not a great deal of discussion….
[TC:] Did any of the Hands suggest that, they should take the time to carefully review past acts, pronouncements and messages of Shoghi Effendi to possibly discover if he had in some other way appointed his successor which they may have overlooked at the time?
[MR] No, such a proposal was never made.
[LIGHTS FADE OUT FROM COURTROOM SCENE AND FADE IN TO THE CONCLAVE HELD IN 1957]
[The Hands are all assembled together in the Mansion of Bahji and one of the Hands is finishing a prayer and after a moment of silence, the Hands begin their discussion]
[Rúhíyyih Khánum]: I think for the sake of unity, we should all take turns in chairing our meetings. Since you are the most elder Hand present, Clara, why don’t you chair this first session?
[Clara Dunn]: That will be fine, but please feel free to jump in to assist me. I don’t know how well I will do….
[RK:] You will do just fine. I don’t think there should be a Secretary and that minutes should be kept of these proceedings. And, while the members are free to take notes, I must insist that all such notes be destroyed before you leave the room. This is of the utmost importance to the integrity of the Faith. I am sure that all agree that if there ever was a time for us to stand united, now is that time. We must not let disunity spread.
[FADE OUT CONCLAVE LIGHTS, FADE IN TO THE COUTROOM SCENE]
[TC:] It seems apparent that Rúhíyyih was firmly in charge…
[MR:] All of us gave great deference to Shoghi Effendi’s widow, we were simply conditioned to follow her instructions, and it was no different after Shoghi died. That’s why nobody objected to her decisions. But I thought there should have been minutes of what the Hands had discussed, considering the importance of the decisions we were making.
[TC:] But we have no record of those proceedings, do we, other than your recollections?
[MR:] That’s correct. Too bad, just from an historical sense, when you think about the importance of the motion the Hands passed that day.
[TC:] Please tell the Court about this motion….
[MR:] Dr. Mohajir, took the floor….
[TC] That would be the Defendant, Dr. Rahmatu’llah Muhájir?
[MR] That’s correct; he stood up and made this stunning motion….
[COURTROOM SCENE FADES OUT AND CONCLAVE SCENE FADES IN]
[CD:] The Conclave has accepted the report of those members who searched the office of Shoghi Effendi. Is there discussion as to how we shall proceed?
[Dr. Rahmatu’llah Muhájir (rising):]
I move to declare the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá as Badah and that the Guardianship be ended forever and closed forever!
[CD] Dr. Muhájir, can you tell us about Badah, for those of us not familiar with this term?
[RM] Badah is an Islamic tradition meaning that God’s promises are unfulfilled, because God has the sovereignty to do as He pleases, and it is not our place to question why. Shoghi Effendi had no heir and as all of the Holy Family had been disloyal, and as only a male member of the Holy Family is eligible to be appointed to the Guardianship, there was nobody for him to appoint.
[Shoaullah Ala’i (rising):] I agree. This is exactly the teaching of Badah, according to the Holy Text.
[Zikrullah Khadem] Yes, there is no question that the Guardianship is Badah. Not forever, because the next Manifestation of God, after at least 1000 years, should He see fit, may reestablish it at that time. But there is simply no way for us to continue it on….
[RM]: I accept Mr. Khadem’s astute amendment to my motion. My motion is to declare the end of the Guardianship until such time as a future Manifestation of God should reinstate it.
[The other Hands rise and begin seconding the motion and stating their agreement, all of them speaking at once.]
[CD:] Order please. Please…. Dr Varqa… what do you have to add?
[Dr. Ali Mohammad Varqa]: I respectfully second the motion. If our beloved Guardian could have appointed his successor, of course he would have done so. Is there any doubt about that? But he did not, because he could not, and he must have recognized that the Guardianship was Badah.
[Ali Akbar Furutan]: Let us bring this to a vote. There is nothing more to discuss.
[CD:] Yes, all right. All in favor of Dr. Muhájir’s motion, to declare the end of the Guardianship raise their hands? [Pause…counting….] The motion passes.
[FADE BACK TO COURTROOM SCENE]
[TC:] Was there no further discussion before the motion passed?
[MR:] No there wasn’t. I was stunned by how fast this had happened. Rúhíyyih immediately sided with the Persian Hands, and the motion was carried. No further discussion was held, except it was decided that we would not announce our decision to the Bahá’í world that the Guardianship had ended.
[TC:] Why not tell the Bahá’í world about such a momentous decision made by the Hands?
[MR:] Their reasoning was that this would come as a great shock to the believers, and that instead of creating a situation of speculation and disunity, the Hands should work to elect the Universal House of Justice before announcing this decision.
[TC:] Did you agree with this?
[MR:] At the time, it seemed correct not to announce this decision, because I knew with certainty that it was wrong. I knew that the Guardianship could not possibly have ended.
[TC:] Why did you not object at the conclave?
[MR:] I really don’t know. I was very confused and disturbed by the whole thing. It came as quite a surprise and shock as it had been done so hastily. Thinking back about it, it is obvious that the Persian Hands had continued to meet after we had returned to Haifa that first night, and they had decided to make this declaration of Badah. They had thought it all through, and I was taken by surprise.
[TC:] Why then were you so certain the Guardianship had not ended, and why were you the only one?
[MR:] I was not the only one. Ugo Giachery, immediately after the conclave had ended, told me that he still held out hope there would be a Guardian. I think there were others too who were not so sure about it after the first conclave. It was Ugo who pointed out to me that the Persian Hands had obviously met together on the first night of the conclave, when all of them had stayed overnight at the Mansion of Bahji, and had then discussed it. Over time, Ugo and the others, slowly fell into line with the exception of Dr. Grossmann. They were afraid to break the unity of the Hands and there was enormous pressure on us. I remained silent, too, for at least a year after that. I heard later from Joel Marangella, who at the time was an Auxiliary Board Member working closely with Dr. Grossmann, that he so strongly believed that in some way the Guardianship would be continued that he went so far as to invite all of the eighteen Auxiliary Board members of Europe to a meeting in his home in Germany during the course of which he encouraged them not to give up hope for the continuance of the Guardianship and to convey this hope to the believers in Europe. The other Hands had obviously learned of this event and had become so concerned about it that they decided to relocate Dr. Grossmann to South America where he could no longer exert any influence on the European believers who held him in high esteem. Notwithstanding, I do recall subsequently hearing of an incident in which he had been supposedly telling the believers in South America that perhaps there would be a second Guardian, and there was much discussion amongst the Custodian Hands about this. Someone suggested that perhaps Dr. Grossmann was merely speculating that the Universal House of Justice, once it had been elected in 1963, might reestablish the Guardianship.
[TC:] But what made you so certain of your position that the Guardianship had not come to an end?
[MR:] It is somewhat embarrassing to discuss, even now, but I had a vision years before in which I had seen myself as the second Guardian. Following the death of Shoghi Effendi, I often thought about this vision, but even then could not see clearly how I was to become the second Guardian. However, it was far too embarrassing for me to put myself forward as the Guardian. It was my hope that the other Hands would, at the very least, think about and work towards a solution to the problem we faced–as there had to be a Guardian, but how could that come about? Instead of endeavoring to resolve that question, the Hands instead deliberated on how they could get the believers to accept the end of the Guardianship.
[TC:] Mr. Remey, it still puzzles me as to why you remained silent for so long?
[MR:] I had not yet come to the realization, myself, of the specific manner in which Shoghi Effendi had insured the continuation of the Guardianship through my appointment as the President of the IBC–the embryonic UHJ– an Office that can only be occupied by the Guardian of the Faith, as later fully explained in my Proclamation at Ridvan 1960. Therefore, most unfortunately, I was in no position then to prove to them the manner in which I had become Shoghi Effendi’s chosen successor. At the time, the emphasis for all of us, in all that we did, was to remain united so that the Faith might come through this crisis. In hindsight, now, it appears that I was mistaken, at least, in not coming forward sooner and more forcefully speaking out against their abandonment of the Guardianship. There is no way to know now what might have happened, if I had, although the results could not have been worse for the Faith than the violation that did occur. You should understand that I eventually worked very hard in entreating my fellow Hands to get them to see that their position was opposed to everything that Shoghi Effendi had written and done, and was in violation of the Covenant, but they were not willing to hear.
[TC:] There is no point in having you repeat to this Court all of the efforts that you then made, including the lengthy written appeals you sent to your fellow Hands, as well as the account of your almost daily exhortations to the Custodian Hands in Haifa, during the period you remained there, to reconsider their stand against the continuation of the Guardianship which is well preserved in your book, Daily Observations. All of these documents were admitted into this Court’s record. However, the charges this Court is now considering deal with the culpability of the Defendants, so we must make some inquiry about what was going on in the minds of the Hands between the time when they reached their conclusion at the conclave in November 1957 that the Guardianship was Badah, and the time when you issued your own Proclamation at Ridván 1960.
[MR:] It is not possible for me to tell this Court what the Hands were thinking, other than to give you my own understanding of their reaction and responses to my appeals.
[TC:] Please do tell the Court.
[MR:] I had thought a great deal about this subject of Covenant-breaking, as you can well imagine. From a historical perspective, such as the recounting by Shoghi Effendi of the actions of the early Covenant-breakers in his book, God Passes By. The ambitions and desires of those Covenant-breakers who opposed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were evil. They seemed bent upon achieving a position of glory or power, even when their actions were blatantly destructive of the Faith, even violent and murderous.
[TC:] Is it your testimony that the Hands were Covenant-breakers in the historical sense?
[MR:] We had the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that clearly pointed out the essentiality of the Guardian as “the Center of the Cause” and the “sacred head” of the Universal House of Justice and the extensive writings and highly significant messages of Shoghi Effendi which had obviously been ignored in the hasty decision to end the Guardianship, and, which if they had been examined closely and their implications taken into account, may have prevented their establishment of a sans-Guardian organization in place of the divinely-conceived and immortal Administrative Order bequeathed to us by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament, a Document that Shoghi Effendi had equated in its sacredness and immutability with Bahá’u’lláh’s Most Holy Book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. They were in error and they lost faith in the Covenant. There is no question in my mind about that. Some excuse for this failure by the Hands may be attributed to Shoghi Effendi’s sudden and unexpected passing and the fact that we had become so used to Shoghi Effendi as our leader, that we could not even imagine going on without him. This entire situation –the untimely death of Shoghi Effendi, and the lack of any direct advice or instructions from him about the situation– had been suddenly foisted upon us by events.
[TC:] Were the Hands not Covenant-breakers?
[MR:] Of course they were, and with disastrous results to the Cause of God. And that was the most frustrating thing about it…. how this spirit of violation seemed to descend upon the Hands.
[TC:] Can you give me an example of this spirit descending upon them?
[MR:] First of all, quite obviously, there was this plot by the Hands to abandon the Guardianship, but not to be straightforward about it. This whole notion of Badah, that God had changed His Mind about such a fundamental and distinguishing characteristic of the Faith–the basic Institutions of the Divine Government established by Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá – was so pernicious…. it threatened to destroy the Faith, and how strange it was that all of the Hands over time came to embrace this concept. It was such a blatant violation but they could not see it.
[TC:] Yes, but what specific examples can you relate that these Hands were violators?
[MR:] I guess from the start, it seemed like they wanted to have nothing to do with a second Guardian. In any Kingdom, when a highly esteemed and just King dies and there is no heir apparent to inherit the throne, what do his nobles do? Do they set out to destroy what had been a well-established and functioning government and replace it with a purely democratic system? That would be sedition.
[TC:] Yes. But is the Universal House of Justice that they established a purely democratic institution?
[MR:] Of course it is. As Shoghi Effendi has clearly explained in his writings, it is the elected Local and National Spiritual Assemblies, which in turn elect the International Assembly, a body that will be designated in its final stage of development as the Universal House of Justice, that constitutes the democratic element in the Bahá’í Spiritual World Government. When formed and in working order these institutions will be the voice of the rank and file of the believers. The royal element in the Faith is the Guardianship together with the institution of the Hands, The democratically elected members of the Universal House of Justice constitute only one part of the Universal House of Justice. The Guardian in his dual role as both the “Center of the Cause” and the “sacred head” for life of the UHJ, together with the Hands appointed by him, represent the nobility. The Hands, in doing away with the Guardianship, have done away with the nobility, including their own Institution as well, as future Hands can only be appointed by the Guardian and therefore they have turned the Faith over exclusively to the rank and file. Consequently, they have destroyed the divinely-appointed System given to us in the Will and Testament and replaced it with something of their own concoction. What could be a greater repudiation of the Master’s Will than this? What else but the evil spirit of violation could bring the Hands to do these things?
[TC:] I think this goes to the heart of our inquiry today. How does this Court know the Hands were caught up in a spirit of violation, as opposed to being guilty of mere error– did they not believe that their Universal House of Justice would decide the question?
[MR:] It is important for this Court to understand that, first and foremost, the Hands did not want a second Guardian. I have said countless times, if the Hands had been united in spirit in wanting a second Guardian to guide us, they would have found him. But instead, they said Badah! They just abandoned the entire spiritual structure of the divine government that is the heart of the Bahá’í message! The prospect that they held out to the believers that the House of Justice would decide the question was just a smokescreen… it was an effort to get the rank and file to accept the end of the Guardianship.
[TC:] We will get to that in a moment. When you say they did not want a second Guardian, how so?
[MR:] Well I recall when Rúhíyyih attended the 1958 conference in Kampala, she announced that the Guardianship was Badah. In Chicago, Hands of the Cause Horace Holley and Paul Haney met with the American NSA and they circulated a Manifesto announcing definitely that the Guardianship had ended for this Dispensation! Rúhíyyih said her announcement had been a slip of the tongue and she also had Horace and Paul stop the circulation of their Manifesto. But their true conviction came through. And it was only when the believers began to protest this conviction, that the Hands listened to them and reconsidered what they had to say? Nevertheless, they still wanted to put out of the Faith anyone who protested, and some believers were actually deprived of their Bahá’í voting rights simply because they argued in favor of the continuing Guardianship.
[TC:] Did any of the Hands actually tell you they did not want a second Guardian?
[MR:] You know Rúhíyyih Khánum was so absorbed in the personality of Shoghi Effendi and his way of doing things, that she could not imagine anyone else as the Guardian. And this was the dilemma for all of us. But for Rúhíyyih it was a stumbling block. Being in the position of a liaison, with the believers she had been the contact person for the Guardian, and really had been the person all of us turned to. She had been second only in our minds to Shoghi himself, and she did not want anyone to supplant her in this position and she ruled the Faith after Shoghi passed on.
[TC:] Did Rúhíyyih ever come out and say it?
[MR:] I do recall at a meeting of the Custodians, she insisted to me that there never would be another Guardian, and that no one else would ever live in the Guardians’ house, after her. And she would have temper tantrums if the other Custodian Hands would not go along with her, shaking her fingers at us, and talking impatiently, as if she still was the channel through which Shoghi Effendi directed us.
[COURTROOM SCENE FADES OUT AND CONCLAVE SCENE FADES IN]
[The Custodians in Haifa are discussing Dr. Grossmann’s speculation about the continuation of the Guardianship]
[RK] We must put a stop to these leaks about the continuation of the Guardianship…. it is too dangerous.
[Ugo Giachery]: Perhaps his remarks were taken out of context. After all, we don’t know whether the Guardianship has ended or not. Only the Universal House of Justice, when it is established, can decide that question, and they might very well find a way to appoint the next Guardian.
[RK:] Nonsense! There will not be another Guardian! [pointing finger] Over my dead body. Understand this. The Guardianship is ended. Shoghi Effendi was the Guardian, and there is no other Guardian. I will not have a second Guardian. If the House of Justice finds a way to appoint a Guardian, then I will leave here and never come back.
[UG] You are not going to leave here. Where would you go?
[RK:] I will take myself to the wilderness of Tibet, I will hide from the Bahá’ís, if need be, but I will not accept any more Guardians.
[FADE BACK INTO COURTROOM SCENE]
[MR:] Such was the attitude of Rúhíyyih, and such was the attitude of the other Hands, with the exception of Dr. Grossmann…. they did not want a Guardian so they declared it Badah!
[TC:] If this Court accepts as fact that Rúhíyyih did not want the Guardianship to continue because she would lose her special status, why would the other Hands be opposed to a second Guardian?
[MR:] That is a very good question. By the time of the second conclave in November of 1958, I was determined to do whatever I could to remedy this situation. As I stated, because of my vision in seeing myself as the second Guardian, I did not want to be the one to bring up the continuation of the Guardianship. So I sat there at first and prayed that someone else would bring it up. Several Hands had been called aside to discuss letters received from the German believers, Dr. Schaefer and Eugene Schmidt, urging us to consider the essentiality of the Guardianship, but the Hands did not want to discuss this matter at the conclave. All of them were united in wanting not to discuss it. I was the only one who wanted to speak of it, and they did not want to give me the floor.
COURTROOM SCENE FADES OUT AND CONCLAVE SCENE FADES IN]
[This is the second secret conclave held in the Mansion of Bahjí in November 1958 with the Hands all assembled together (25 Hands)]
[Horace Holley:] Mason, you are out of order. This question of the Guardianship has already been decided and there is nothing more to discuss.
[other Hands murmuring with their assent to this]
[RK:] Just a minute now, Mason is the eldest Hand present. The least we can do is allow him to speak. These proceedings are secret and what harm would there be in letting him say his piece. Go on Mason.
[MR:] Thank you Rúhíyyih. I appreciate this opportunity to speak. I do not want antagonism or strife in these proceedings, but I must insist upon bringing it up again and again until you accept it for I am convinced that without a continuance of the Institution of the Guardianship that our Holy Cause will fail and go high and dry upon the rocks. But I know that the Cause is not going to fail. It is bound to triumph in the world and this can only be if we have a Guardian here in the flesh to guide us, therefore I firmly believe that we have a Guardian and that the time will come when you, one and all, will realize this and that then the second Guardian of our Faith will be wanted to command our Cause here upon earth.
You hope to establish the Universal House of Justice as a source of infallibility to supplant that of the Guardianship, a House of Justice of your own creation. This cannot be done unless there is a Guardian in office to establish it, for you all know that there are to be two pillars of that supreme body. It cannot come into existence without first the Guardianship to create the House of Justice. The Guardian will himself direct this establishment- you cannot establish it. What authority do you have? The Hands are required to perform two services for the Faith–to propagate the Faith and to protect the Faith– under the direction of the Guardian. The Cause can have no protection at all without the Guardianship and that means a Guardian here upon earth to lead and to govern us–then we will have a protected Faith, protected in the only way possible to protect it– then the propagation of the Faith will be a simple matter. The beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, has laid out the campaign to establish the Faith in triumph upon earth– our Second Guardian will lead the Cause on from victory to victory the world around! Victory cannot be attained in any other way!
[HH- interrupting:] Enough of this Mason. It is all well and good, but it is foolish to speculate about what might have been. You know very well there is no way for us to appoint a Guardian. We have no authority to do that either.
[MR:] Mr. Holley, if between now and our next conclave, we would only think about it, consider it, work on this problem… what other problem is more important than this? Perhaps we will find a solution. We have not even tried. All I am trying to do is to facilitate our thinking about this problem. Because I know in my heart that this Faith is from God, and that He guides it, and He has promised not to leave this Faith without a living Guardian.
Every Bahá’í knows that had there not been a first Guardian of the Faith by now the Cause would have broken up into sects and cults and it would no longer be united. Shoghi Effendi’s Guardianship was the point of unity around which the Faith revolved. In other words, that by virtue of his Guardianship he was the heart of the Faith in this world–that the Administration was the Guardianship and that the Guardianship was the Administration. No line of separation could be drawn. The individual Guardians of the Bahá’í Faith will live and die but the Guardianship of the Faith will live on as long as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh endures. It is the heart and the life center of the Faith.
[HH:] And why cannot Shoghi Effendi continue to guide us? Shoghi Effendi already has told us all that we need to know with respect to the carrying out of his World Crusade. All we have to do is follow his injunctions, turn to him in the Abhá Kingdom and if we love him and obey that which he told us, he from his supreme station in the Abhá Kingdom will direct the Cause upon the plane of this world. We need no further Guardianship in this world.
[MR:] Mr. Holley, I have the floor. And I cannot understand how you can believe that. You certainly know that this flies in the face of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and everything that Shoghi Effendi has written about the Guardianship–this is superstition and nonsense. It is an axe to the root of the Faith, a violation of the Master’s Will and Testament. How is it possible that you, as a rational human being, can follow and believe in such a pernicious and ignorant philosophy?
[HH:] I must object… this is out of order! The Universal House of Justice will decide this question. This is not a question for us to consider.
[RK:] That will be enough…
[FADE-BACK TO THE COURTROOM SCENE]
[TC] Did any of the other Hands speak up or even suggest that the continuation of the Guardianship should be discussed?
[MR:] They would not even speak of the Guardianship. The subject was taboo. None of the Hands would allow this essential topic to be considered. In fact, every time I ever brought up the subject of the continuing Guardianship, the other Hands were united in arguing against me. They clearly did not want a second Guardian– they put up a solid wall of resistance. To me, this revealed that they were very insecure about the subject and that their inner conviction was against the continuance of the Guardianship, but it was too painful for them to openly discuss it. So they would say that the Universal House of Justice would have to decide. It was apparent to me that the Hands enjoyed such great freedom in their position. The Hands ruled the Cause and they had nobody to hold them to account. The last thing they wanted was to go back to the time when they lived under the thumb of the Guardian. For example, the group of Custodian Hands in Haifa were all greatly and evidently personally enjoying life there, far more than we ever had enjoyed it during the days of Shoghi’s ministry. We were like children away from school with no teacher to direct us or restrain us. The freedom we enjoyed, frankly was a personally delightful change from the state of years past when the beloved Guardian was directing and actually in command of practically every move we made. That life was indeed a most difficult life –at times almost unendurable. You cannot have any comprehension of the tests, trials and difficulties we had to endure if you had not lived near to the Guardian and served him every day.
[TC:] I want to discuss a bit about your decision to come forward to the Bahá’í world and proclaim your Guardianship.
[MR:] Believe me when I tell you that my actions in defying the Hands and proclaiming my Guardianship were done with the greatest reluctance and only as the last resort. It was my prayerful wish, from the very beginning, to avoid a split in the Faith and to stop that violation before it could be spread, but it was not to be.
[TC:] So you then decided to promulgate your proclamation to the National Spiritual Assemblies?
[MR:] Yes, indeed, although I only had the means to send it to the NSA of the United States in Wilmette for presentation to the Convention at Ridvan `1960, and also to the NSA of France—
[TC:] [Interrupting] Why did you send it to Wilmette?
[MR:] The American NSA was in the position easily to distribute the text throughout the Bahá’í World, and I —-
[TC:] [Interrupting] And you expected them to distribute it?
[MR:] In hindsight, it was obvious that I had made a miscalculation. I honestly believed they would accept in good faith my claims. At least, one would have expected they would have received it with an open mind, and at least have inquired further. Certainly, they must have known of my sincerity.
[TC:] But they rejected it, didn’t they?
[MR:] Yes, the spirit of violation is so dangerous, and it spreads so easily. The American NSA already was infected and they did not even consider it. They also had received a cable from the Custodians in Haifa denouncing me and this, of course, would have greatly influenced them. They squelched my Proclamation and kept it from the Bahá’í World. It makes you wonder how things might have turned out differently had they possessed the integrity to give it a full hearing and allowed the Bahá’í world to consider it– to discuss it.
[TC:] But the American NSA was not the only one in receipt of your proclamation?
[MR:] Yes, the one bright moment in the entire ordeal was the reception given it by the French NSA. I had sent them a copy directly and they considered it carefully and dispassionately and I am proud to say they voted to accept my Guardianship. Perhaps if the other NSAs had been given the opportunity to consider it, they too might have accepted.
[TC:] And do you know what happened to the French NSA?
[MR:] Sadly, the violating Custodian Hands sent Mr. Faizi to France to try to dissuade the Assembly from their acceptance of my Guardianship. As he failed in this attempt, the Hands dissolved the NSA, and declared its members Covenant-breakers. It’s all in the records of the French NSA. Mr. Fillon, the Secretary of the NSA, has written a detailed account.
[TC:] That is in the Court’s record. By what authority did the Hands dissolve a National Spiritual Assembly?
[MR:] Indeed, by what authority did they do any of things they did in the Faith? By what authority did they expel me? The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gives them no such authority.
[TC:] I’d like for you to give me the Hands’ reasons for identifying you as a Covenant-breaker because, if an individual can only be proclaimed a Covenant-breaker for opposing the Guardian of the Faith, how could they call you a Covenant-breaker?
[MR:] They eventually decided that my claim to be the second Guardian was “heretical” and “contrary to the explicit provisions of the Will of the Master.” They maintained that I was seeking to create division within the Faith and to “sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of the believers.” They said I was undermining the activities of the institution of the Hands. So they called upon the believers everywhere to shun me and anyone who associated with me or actively supported my claims. If you read the book The Ministry of the Custodians, you’ll see that in their correspondence with one another the Hands put forth a number of other arguments that they felt would constitute a basis for my being expelled from the Faith.
[TC:] Such as?
[MR:] They said that my opposition was “to the decisions and plans of our beloved Guardian”–that is, Shoghi Effendi. The Hands in the Holy Land went so far as to make the absurd statement that my claim and activities were “a protest against the decision of Shoghi Effendi in not appointing a successor to him as the Guardian of the Faith.” And they eventually suggested that I had somehow failed “to show … obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the Guardian of the Cause of God as called for in the Master’s Will.” Thus, they said, my purpose was “dissension and discord,” and I should be cut off from the community of the believers. Hand of the Cause Sears said that I had opposed the Guardian for two years, and that I was causing a division in the Faith. Hand of the Cause Ioas used my proclamation itself as a transgression of the laws of the Faith and thus grounds for excommunication.
[TC:] Did any of the Hands realize that they might be exceeding their authority?
[MR:] Yes, Hand of the Cause, Hasan Balyuzi. He asked where the Hands obtained their authority to expel individuals from the community and then cited the passage in the Will and Testament which says that the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and to cast out anyone who opposes or protests against the Guardian. Balyuzi said that “he couldn’t find the express authority given to the Hands of the Cause to expel people for any reason other than opposition to the Guardian” and he suggested that the Hands would be setting up a new category of Covenant-breakers if they expelled anyone for any other reason. He was later apparently won over by the other Hands on the grounds that they were protecting the Faith. So it was that they had the audacity to declare themselves and the other violators as faithful, and to condemn my claim to the Guardianship and expel and shun the true and faithful believers.
[TC:] Could you summarize for the Court what was your claim to the Guardianship?
[MR:] What do you mean? Are you asking me what was the rationale of my claim to the office?
[TC:] Yes, please. Summarize briefly for the Court how it was you came to be the second Guardian?
[MR:] As I explained in my proclamation and appeals, Shoghi Effendi created the Bahá’í International Council as the embryo of The Universal House of Justice which would eventually develop into The Universal House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi chose me to be the President of the Bahá’í International Council, or in other words the embryonic president of the embryonic Universal House of Justice. According to the Will and Testament, the President of the Universal House of Justice is an office held only by the Guardian. Therefore, upon Shoghi Effendi’s death, the International Council became active and so did my presidency and thus I held office as the second Guardian.
[TC:] Thank you, Mr. Remey, I have no further questions.
[LG:] Mr Wolcott, your witness
[CW:] Thank you, your honor. Mr. Remey, I want to take you back to the time of the first conclave of the Hands. Did you ever voice your objections to anyone at all or did you ever object to the holding of the conclave by the Hands?
[CW:] Then, you agreed with this meeting, did you not? You agreed that the Hands had the authority to have such a conclave?
[MR:] Well, there is nothing in the Writings that gave us that authority, and the Will and Testament does not call for the convening of such a conclave upon the passing of the Guardian but on the other hand, there is nothing that prohibited it.
[CW:] Did you agree with it?
[MR:] I did as this was an unusual time for the Faith.
[CW interrupting:] Thank you. Did you agree to keep the meetings secret?
[CW:] You agreed not to keep notes?
[MR:] Yes, but…
[CW interrupting:] Nevertheless, you did take notes, didn’t you, and they were published under the title of Daily Observations?
[TC:] I object, your honor, to this line of questioning. Mr. Remey is not on trial here.
[LG:] I will allow the questioning, but be careful where you are going, Mr. Wolcott.
[CW:] I will move on, your honor. [placing before him a document] I would like to direct your attention to this document entitled: “Unanimous Proclamation of the 27 Hands of God, dispatched from the “Mansion of Bahá’u’lláh, Bahjí, ‘Akká, Israel, November 25, 1957.” Are you familiar with this?
[MR:] Yes, of course
[CW:] Can you tell the Court what this is?
[MR:] This is one of the two proclamations issued by the Hands on 25 November 1957 after the first conclave. We also issued a “Unanimous Certification” and a “Resolution” on the same date.
[CW:] This would be one of the official records of the proceedings at that conclave, is that correct?
[MR:] That would be true, yes.
[CW:] [pointing to the page] Do you recognize this signature?
[MR:] That’s my signature.
[CW:] So you signed this document and accepted its contents?
[TC:] Objection, your honor. I don’t see how this is relevant to these proceedings. Mr. Remey’s signature on the proclamation and his acceptance of that proclamation does not tend to prove or disprove whether the Hands are guilty of the charges against them.
[LG:] Mr. Wolcott?
[CW:] Your honor, the prosecution has gone into great detail about the secret conclave and the proceedings by the Hands, and certainly they are producing this evidence to show that the Hands have violated the Covenant. This is within the scope of cross-examination. Presumably, Mr. Remey is not considered guilty of these charges so it certainly is relevant whether he gave his support and acquiescence to the actions of the Hands.
[LG:] I will allow this line of questioning for now; the objection is over-ruled. Proceed.
[CW:] Thank you, your honor.
[LG:] Mr. Remey, you may answer the question.
[MR:] Yes, I signed the document.
[CW:] Can you read this line [pointing] right here.
[MR:] (reading from the “Unanimous Proclamation” of the Hands dated 25 November 1957) “in our capacity as Hands of the Cause of God duly nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, assembled this 25th of November, 1957 at the Bahá’í World Centre and constituting the supreme body of the Bahá’í World Community.”
[CW:] [Interrupting] so you agreed with the statement that the Hands constituted the supreme body of the community?
[MR:] At the time, I did go along, yes.
[CW:] and read right here. [pointing]
[MR:] (reading) “WHEREAS THE Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, passed away in London (England) on the 4th of November, 1957, without having appointed his successor; AND WHEREAS it is now fallen upon us as Chief Stewards of the Bahá’í World Faith to preserve the unity, the security and the development of the Bahá’í World Community and all its institutions”
[CW:] and this further paragraph. [pointing]
[MR:] (reading) “We nominate and appoint from our own number to act on our behalf as the Custodians of the Baha’i World Faith . . .”
[CW:) And in the text that followed you were included in the body of nine Custodians that were named. You agreed with this?
[CW:] And you signed this document knowing it created the Custodians, and indeed you were one of them, isn’t that correct?
[CW:] So how is it that you served as a member of this body and conducted yourself in the same manner as the other Hands, but the other Hands are on trial for violating the Covenant?
[MR:] You are taking this out of context. We were concerned mostly about unity at that time. None of us wanted to see the Faith break apart. We felt we needed to keep a common and united front. There is no question the Hands appointed the Custodians that day as set forth in the proclamation, and I was remaining united with them. But they assured me they would continue to address this matter of the continuing Guardianship.
[CW:] But you went along with the statement in that proclamation, “that Shoghi Effendi passed away in London (England) on the 4th of November without having appointed his successor,” did you not?
[MR:] Yes, but what did that statement really say, as well as the statement in the second proclamation issued by the Custodians on the same day, which you have placed before me to read,? It said that Shoghi Effendi left no will and testament appointing a faithless Aghsán as his heir. Certainly that was true. In fact, there were no remaining living Aghsán to appoint. It did not say the Guardianship had terminated.
[CW:] But it did say, isn’t it so, that it granted the nine Custodians authority to exercise, and I quote: “all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá’í World Faith” and you signed this document… and agreed with it?
[CW:] And yet you maintain that the other Hands are guilty but you are not. How is that so?
[MR:] That was considered only a temporary arrangement. I signed for the sake of unity. I could sign that proclamation because it did not actually declare the Guardianship Badah– the end of the Guardianship.
[CW:] And so, in your mind, it was the belief in Badah that violated the Covenant?
[MR:] Yes, and really taking the action that followed from it, their plan to elect a headless Universal House of Justice to replace the House of Justice delineated in the Will and Testament, which requires the Guardian to preside as its head. It was carrying out that plan to institutionalize their Badah doctrine– it was that which constituted the violation. If you will note the next phrase after the one you quoted. It says that we were giving the Custodians this power temporarily (reading) “and this until such time as the Universal House of Justice, upon being duly established and elected in conformity with the Sacred Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá, may otherwise determine.” You can see, I had not abandoned the Guardianship or the Universal House of Justice that they stated would be established and elected in conformity with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which must have the Guardian as its “sacred head.”
[CW:] And yet you also signed the “Resolution of the Hands of the Cause of God Passed at Their Meeting at the Bahá’í World Centre,” also on 25 November 1957, didn’t you?
[MR:] Yes I did.
[CW:] In that resolution, the Hands said among other things the following, did they not? (reading) “In all their dealings with the Israel Government and any local authorities in Israel the Custodians shall act through the Bahá’í International Council, who shall act in accordance with the instructions of the Custodians.”
[MR:] I do think that was in error. The Custodians, actually an illegitimate body, did not have the right to give the IBC any instructions at all.
[CW:] Yet you signed it
[MR:] As I explained, I felt that this was a time for showing unity, not dispute. But the Custodians also issued a proclamation addressed “to the Baha’is of East and West” that the IBC would be allowed to function and I quote the following passage from this proclamation: (reading) “As to the International Bahá’í Council, appointed by the Guardian and heralded in his communications to the Bahá’í world, that body will in the course of time finally fulfill its purpose through the formation of the Universal House of Justice, that Supreme Body upon which infallibility, as the Master’s Testament assures us, is divinely conferred: “The source of all good and freed from all error.” Their agreement with that allowed me to sign all the documents.
[CW:] Why didn’t you just convene the IBC and have the IBC carry out the business of the Faith in the Holy Land?
[MR:] That would have been most appropriate, and more than that, the Council, in accordance with Shoghi Effendi’s plans for the expanded future role of the Council, should have been permitted to direct the NSA’s of the World in their achievement of the goals of the Ten Year Global Crusade that commenced at Ridvan 1960, but the Custodian Hands usurped this function. Although I eventually did assert myself, by that time their violation had become so deeply entrenched that they were determined to proceed with their 1963 plan. I collaborated with them for two years before refusing in December, 1959 to be a party any longer to this obvious violation.
[CW:] No further questions.
[LG:] Mr. Chase, does the prosecution wish to have redirect examination?
[TC:] Just a couple of questions.
[TC:] By the 1963 plan, you meant the plan by the Hands to elect a headless Universal House of Justice at Ridvan 1963 to rule the Bahá’í world?
[TC:] After the Proclamation and resolutions of the Hands at the first conclave, you did not remain silent, did you?
[MR:] No, as you know, I made every effort within my power to convince the Hands that they had embarked upon the wrong course. But they would not listen. After I left Haifa in late 1959 I wrote several lengthy appeals to all of the Hands setting forth the reasons why the Guardianship should not be abandoned. And before that, while still in Haifa, hardly a day passed when I did not remonstrate with my fellow-Custodian Hands over this abandonment, but all to no avail.
[TC:] So you consider that you did not fail to meet your duty as Guardian?
[MR:] I think not. I stood up, single and alone. As I said in the following quotation from my “Announcement to the Hands”.. (reading) “In my position as President of the International Council, I stand single and alone in all this world, Therefore my reason for standing single and alone upholding the Administration of the Faith and the Guardianship against the united stand of the Hands of the Faith. At the present time of this writing (April 5, 1960) I am the only person in the world who knows this, but I shall soon have to explain these matters to the Bahá’í world. For the time of silence, confusion, and violation is ended. Thus, I give the Hands of the Faith but a few hours before I announce my intentions to the friends of the Faith.” (end quote) I stood up for the Guardianship, but only a few would later pay any heed.
[TC:] No further questions.
[CW:] I have nothing further, your honor.
[LG:] Mr. Remey, you may step down. The Court thanks you for your testimony. You are excused.
[TC:] Your Honor, the prosecution calls Leroy C. Ioas to the stand.
[LG:] Mr. Ioas, please sit here at the witness stand. You remain under oath, do you understand that?
[Leroy Ioas:] Yes, sir, I understand.
[TC:] Mr. Ioas, you are one of the defendants in this case, are you not?
[LI:] Yes, sir, I am.
[TC:] I want to ask you just a few questions about your service on the International Bahá’í Council.
[LI:] I will do my best to answer.
[TC:] You were appointed to the IBC by Shoghi Effendi, is that correct?
[TC:] And he named you as the Secretary-General of the IBC?
[LI:] Yes, and he named Assistant Secretaries, as well. Lotfullah Hakim and Ethel Revell.
[TC:] At any time while you were a member of the IBC, did the IBC ever have a meeting?
[LI:] No, sir.
[TC:] Did it function in any capacity?
[LI:] From time to time, individuals on the IBC would be charged with various tasks by Shoghi Effendi.
[TC:] Yes, I understand that IBC members were asked to do things, but did the IBC itself ever perform any functions?
[LI:] No, it could not function since there never was a meeting.
[TC:] So, would it be correct to say that you never functioned as the Secretary-General of the IBC, and that your Assistant Secretaries never functioned either?
[LI:] No, I would not agree with that statement.
[TC:] You just testified, did you not, that the IBC did not function, so how is that the Secretaries functioned?
[LI:] I recall a couple of instances when we wrote letters.
[TC:] Did you write letters on behalf of the Council to the NSA’s?
[LI:] No, of course not. The IBC never functioned or met. The IBC never directed me or my assistants to take action in any way.
[TC:] So when you signed letters as Secretary-General of the IBC, on whose behalf were you writing?
[LI:] We were Hands of the Cause. We were acting at all times on behalf of the beloved Guardian.
[TC:] You were acting on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, then, and not the IBC?
[TC:] Therefore, it is true that you and your assistants never wrote any letters on behalf of the IBC?
[TC:] The IBC itself never did function in any capacity during Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, is that not correct?
[LI:] It never did function.
[TC:] I have no further questions.
[LG:] Mr. Wolcott, your witness.
[CW:] No questions, your honor.
[LG:] Thank you, Mr Ioas, you may step down. Mr. Chase, your next witness?
[TC:] Thank you, your Honor. The prosecution rests.
[LG:] [Turning to defense counsel] Thank you. Mr. Wolcott, are you ready to put on your defense? [fading]
ACT 2 The Defense
[Act opens in the Courtroom with Rúhíyyih Khánum in the witness box]
[LG:] Let the defense begin with their first witness.
[CW:] Please state your name for the record.
[RK:] I am Rúhíyyih Rabbani.
[CW:] You are the widow of Shoghi Effendi?
[CW:] You have heard the prosecution’s testimony. Can you tell me why the Hands took control of the Faith after the death of your husband, Shoghi Effendi?
[RK:] The friends really were looking to us, as the Hands are charged with protecting and defending the Guardian. We were determined to carry out the wishes of the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, which were to prosecute the continuance of a successful Ten Year World Crusade which he had initiated in 1953 as implementation, at last, of the “Tablets of the Divine Plan” given us by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Even Mason went along with us on that objective.
[CW:] But you do not agree with Mr. Remey, that you violated the Covenant?
[RK:] I disagree.
[CW:] Please tell the court, why?
[RK:] The Hands had verified that Shoghi had not left a will. And there were no instructions from him.
[CW:] Yes, but the prosecution has maintained that according to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá an appointment of a successor would have been made in the Guardian’s lifetime and not by a Will and Testament.
[RK:] Anyway, he could not have made such an appointment. We had no children.
[CW:] Was there anybody else he could have appointed?
[RK:] There was nobody. All the living members of the Family were Covenant-breakers.
[CW:] By “the Family” you mean the Holy Family?
[RK:] Yes of course, descendants of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh. There was no one left to appoint.
[CW:] Why could he not have appointed “another branch,” as permitted, as an alternative option, in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?
[RK:] All of the Branches were gone. It was impossible to do.
[CW:] And Shoghi Effendi could not have appointed someone outside of the Holy Family?
[RK:] Such as Mason Remey? We thought not.
[CW:] Why not?
[RK:] There is nothing in the Writings stating who might be eligible to be the Guardian, other than members of the Holy Family. We did not believe Mason could adequately serve as the Guardian. He did not know Arabic or Persian, he was very old, and the nine elected Hands did not give their assent.
[CW:] You are referring, of course, to the passage, that 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 in the work of the Guardian 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.”
[RK:] Yes, exactly.
[CW:] Did the Hands elect nine of their own?
[RK:] Yes, they did, after Shoghi Effendi had passed away.
[CW:] The Custodians?
[RK:] Yes, and Mason was one of them.
[CW:] Did those Hands vote on Shoghi’s appointment of Mason?
[RK:] Yes, of course. After Mason made his claim to the Guardianship, the Custodian Hands rejected his appointment. Therefore Mason could not have been the Guardian.
[CW:] So you continue to maintain that Mason Remey was not the second Guardian of the Cause?
[RK:] Mason was not appointed in accordance with the Will and Testament. The Master’s Will and Testament sets out specific criteria, and Mason did not meet them.
[TC:] Objection, your honor. This Court should take judicial notice that Mason Remey was in fact the second Guardian of the Cause. It is not the purpose of this forum to inquire into the validity of Mason Remey’s claims to office. This inquiry is whether the Hands violated the Covenant.
[LG:] Sustained. Mr. Wolcott, this Court is passing upon the reasonableness of the Hand’s belief that Mason Remey was not the Guardian. This Court takes notice that Mason Remey was in fact the appointed successor to Shoghi Effendi and was validly the second Guardian.
[CW:] Thank you your honor. Madam Rabbani, would it be correct to say that you did not believe that Mason met the criteria for being the Guardian?
[RK:] Yes. We were positive that the Guardian had to be a member of the Holy Family, fluent in Arabic or Persian, and young enough to be able to carry on the affairs of the Cause. Our reading of the Will and Testament was that Mason was not eligible and therefore he could not have been appointed as successor.
[CW:] The prosecution argues that the Custodian Hands, a body that is not found in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, was not eligible either.
[RK:] Of course, we were collectively not the Guardian. Our job was to carry the Faith forward until the Universal House of Justice could be elected to determine what to do next.
[CW:] Why would the Universal House of Justice have to decide the succession of the Guardianship? Was that its function?
[RK:] As the Master said in His Will and Testament: “Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice.” The House needed to decide whether it was possible to appoint a second Guardian.
[CW:] The prosecution maintains the Custodian Hands had no authority to run the affairs of the Faith after Shoghi’s passing. What authority did you believe you had?
[RK:] Let’s not forget that Mason was one of the Custodians.
[CW:] Are you saying that Mason Remey gave you that authority?
[RK:] No, of course not. The authority of the Custodians came from Shoghi Effendi himself.
[CW:] How so?
[RK:] He stated about a month before he passed away that the Hands were “the Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth, who have been invested by the unerring Pen of the Center of His Covenant with the dual function of guarding over the security, and of insuring the propagation, of His Father’s Faith.” That was our mandate, and that was exactly what we were doing. We were carrying out the wishes, instructions and policies of Shoghi Effendi until such time as we could form the House of Justice.
[CW:] Did the believers accept this?
[RK:] Yes. The entire Bahá’í world accepted us as the leaders of the Cause. As you know, the cables from all over are published in my book The Ministry of the Custodians. We had universal support for our mission. The believers all over the world were behind us. All of the National Spiritual Assemblies wrote to us and swore their allegiance to us as the “supreme body in the Cause.” I think that was authority enough.
[CW:] The Bahá’í world recognized your authority, but the body of nine so-called “Custodians of the Baha’i World Faith” was not an Institution of the Cause delineated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá–the “Architect of the Administrative Order”, was it?
[RK:] The Hands were an Institution. The Hands appointed us as Custodians. Eventually, the Universal House of Justice ratified our authority.
[TC:] Objection, your honor. There is no foundation for this House of Justice–the defense has not established that this body elected in 1963 was the Universal House of Justice delineated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They are attempting to justify their violation of the Covenant with the circular argument that their own illegitimate, headless and violating institution allowed it.
[CW:] Your honor, if the inquiry here is the reasonableness of the Hands’ belief that there could not be another Guardian, the pronouncements of this House of Justice are relevant.
[TC:] Their pronouncements cannot be relevant– not unless this Court finds that it was reasonable for them to accept this House.
[LG:] [After conferring with the other Justices]. The objection is well taken that the defense posed by the Hands uses circular logic by attempting to validate the premise of their argument with the authority of the very body existing as the ultimate fruit of the Hands’ actions. On the other hand, justice dictates that we give full hearing to the argument posed by the defense. It goes to the heart of the reasonableness of the collective belief by the accused Hands that their actions after the death of the first Guardian were not violations of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. This line of questioning is therefore allowed and admitted but the parties are free to argue the weight or relevancy of the testimony during closing argument.
[CW:] Thank you, your honor. Let’s talk about this Universal House of Justice. After it was elected, it decided upon the question of the Guardianship, did it not?
[CW:] How did this House come into being?
[RK:] Due to the situation we found ourselves in… The Hands, after Shoghi passed away…we were left in charge. We knew that we did not have infallible guidance. All we could do was follow Shoghi’s instructions and policies, including establishing the Universal House of Justice as the head of the Faith. Once the House took over the Cause, we would restore infallibility to the Administration. So the Hands brought about the election of the Universal House of Justice – we conformed to everything that Shoghi Effendi and `Abdu’l-Bahá had stated on how to carry out its election.
[CW:] This election took place at Ridván, 1963. Correct?
[RK:] Yes. April 21, 1963, just before the World Centennial Congress in London, celebrating the victory of the Ten Year World Crusade. The goals set by Shoghi Effendi had been won.
[CW] Did the Universal House of Justice then rule on the question of the Guardianship?
[RK] Yes, on October 6, 1963, the House released the text of its resolution, as follows: “After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consideration of the views of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.”
[CW:] That was not the only time the House rendered a decision on this subject, was it?
[RK:] I believe they did discuss it a couple of times in response to questions from the friends.
[CW:] That would have been on March 9, 1965, to be exact. Do you recall?
[RK:] Yes, I believe this involved the release of a letter from the House to an NSA that had forwarded a number of concerns and questions– but the basic issue was why we had to elect the House of Justice when the International Bahá’í Council could have carried out the work
[CW:] Do you recall how the House came down on that question?
[RK:] They said what we of course knew to be true- that we needed infallible guidance and that we needed the House to decide on this obscure question– not revealed in the Holy Text– of how to appoint a successor. While we were following the goals of the Ten Year Crusade, as established by Shoghi Effendi, we were following divine guidance. Once the Crusade came to an end, we needed to have the infallible guidance of the House.
[CW:] Did the House ever address any other questions regarding the Guardianship?
[RK:] A little more than a year later, they came out with their May 27, 1966, letter. It was almost a formal statement about the Guardianship.
[CW:] Could you tell me what they said?
[RK:] May I read parts of it?
[CW:] If you wish.
[RK:] The House said Shoghi had no children to appoint, “and all the surviving Aghsán had broken the Covenant…. there was no one he could have appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Will.” They said it was “impossible and unthinkable” for the Guardian “to have made an appointment outside the clear and specific provisions of the Master’s Will and Testament.”
[CW:] Go on.
[RK:] They decided that “[t]he infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, operating within its ordained sphere, has not been made dependent upon the presence in its membership of the Guardian of the Cause.” They went on to say that “during the Guardian’s entire ministry he functioned without the Universal House of Justice, and now the House must function without the Guardian, but the principle of inseparability remains. The Guardianship does not lose its significance nor position in the Order of Bahá’u’lláh merely because there is no living Guardian.”
[CW:] Do you have anything to add in your defense?
[RK:] None of us took any action because we wanted personal power or benefit. I loved Shoghi with all of my heart and I would never have done anything to hurt him. I loved and served him my entire life. He was the beloved Guardian, and we acted in service to him always.
[CW:] No further questions, your honor.
[LG:] Your witness, Mr. Chase.
[TC:] Thank you, your honor. Ms. Rabbani, I have many questions to ask you, but I would like to begin by asking you to explain how you came about to be known as Rúhíyyih Khánum. Your actual maiden name is Mary Maxwell, is it not?
[RK:] Yes that was my given name. But I am known as Rúhíyyih Khánum. Shoghi Effendi gave me that name during the 30s…
[TC:] And that would have occurred sometime around the time that you were married to Shoghi Effendi, correct?
[RK:] Yes, we were married March 24, 1937. We were married in the room of the Greatest Holy Leaf in Haifa.
[TC:] Do you recall how this event, your marriage to the first Guardian, was announced to the believers?
[RK:] Of course, he sent a cablegram shortly afterwards.
[TC:] [Handing her a piece of paper] Was it this cablegram dated March 30, 1937?
[RK:] Yes, this is it.
[TC:] Would you mind reading it to the Court?
[RK:] Certainly. It was addressed to the American believers and says: “Institution of Guardianship, head cornerstone of the Administrative Order of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, already ennobled through its organic connection with the Persons of Twin Founders of the Bahá’í Faith, is now further reinforced through direct association with West and particularly with the American believers, whose spiritual destiny is to usher in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. For my part I desire to congratulate community of American believers on acquisition of the tie vitally binding them to so weighty an organ of their Faith.”
[TC:] Is there anything about this message that impresses you?
[RK:] Well, I am not sure what you are getting at with this, but first of all, the marriage was obviously far more than the coming together of two souls, those of Shoghi Effendi and of mine. His message identifies the institution of the Guardianship as an integral part of our union. But more than that, he identifies a relationship that is far beyond our physical union by identifying the Guardianship as organically connected with the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh…. [reading]…. he calls the Guardianship the “head cornerstone of the Administrative Order of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh”
[TC:] Which means that the Guardianship of the Faith is fundamental to the Administrative Order– that you can’t have the Administrative Order without the Guardianship, is that not true?
[RK:] Yes of course that was what we believed at the time.
[TC:] And you have a special role with respect to the Guardianship?
[RK:] I don’t know what you mean.
[TC:] He says in his message that the Guardianship was an integral part of your marriage.
[RK:] Why, yes he does. All right. At the end of that message he wrote that he congratulated the community of American believers on the acquisition of the tie vitally binding them to so weighty an organ of this Faith. So our marriage was symbolically a joining together of the East and the West.
[TC:] Was that all? Take a look at the message.
[RK:] [reading] He said that it was the “spiritual destiny of the American believers to usher in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.”
[TC:] And what do you suppose is the significance of that?
[RK:] If the tie were broken–lf the American believers were cut off from this organic connection that he referred to–Shoghi Effendi’s vision regarding the future World Order could be placed in jeopardy.
[TC:] So your marriage to Shoghi Effendi represented far more than a union of you and the Guardian–indeed, far more than a symbol of a joining of the East and the West?
[RK:] Yes, I think he was trying to say that our marriage, somehow, was a union of the American Bahá’ís with the Guardianship of the Faith–a necessary tie to the future unfolding of the World Order. But I find that hard to believe.
[TC:] How so?
[RK:] How was it that I was so special? Shoghi used to say that if I weren’t May Maxwell’s daughter, he never would have married me. He knew of her unwavering devotion to `Abdu’l-Bahá and of her untiring service to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh
[TC:] At the time of your marriage to Shoghi Effendi, you were on pilgrimage with your mother, May Maxwell, isn’t that correct?
[RK:] Yes, we had arrived in Halfa in January of 1937.
[TC:] And it was during the three months before your marriage, from January to March that you and your mother wrote what came to be known as “The Maxwell Notes”?
[TC:] When you and your mother wrote those notes, were you concerned about the accuracy of what you were reporting in them?
[RK:] Yes. Very much so.
[TC:] Isn’t it true, then, that they were as accurate as you could make them?
[RK:] Yes, of course.
[TC:] But most Bahá’ís would not consider what you and your mother recorded in “The Maxwell Notes” as material that they should consider as important, true?
[RK:] Well, yes. Pilgrim’s notes were not considered to be reliable.
[TC:] And why was that?
[RK:] Because the view believers have of pilgrim notes is that the statements attributed to Shoghi Effendi were not authenticated by him and therefore are not as valid as what the Guardian himself wrote.
[TC:] This would be true even though some of the statements may actually corroborate or supplement what the Guardian himself wrote?
[RK:] I think so.
[TC:] So when Ruth Moffett, in 1954, cited the Guardian as saying that “Pilgrim notes are very important”–that “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”–and that although they cannot be authoritative, “they are very important, and should be so considered,”–in light of such statements as these, the believers can pretty much ignore them?
[RK:] Yes, that is the case.
[TC:] Even though that runs counter to what the Guardian said about pilgrim’s notes?
[RK:] What do you mean?
[TC:] Let me direct your attention to #147 of “Directives from the Guardian.” Will you read this passage [handing her a paper and pointing]
[RK:] “he [meaning the Guardian] is unwilling to sign the notes of any pilgrim, in order that the literature consulted by the believers shall not be unduly extended.”
[TC:] And will you read this letter [handing her a piece of paper] written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf on April 28, 1939.
[RK:] “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.”
[TC:] Tell me, don’t you think the notes you and your mother wrote of your pilgrimage should be considered as having such value?
[RK:] [Impatiently] Okay, yes. Our notes were accurate and valuable. Where is this going?
[TC:] [Handing her some papers and pointing] I am going to ask that you read to the Court some of the statements from your Pilgrim’s Notes.
[RK:] “The Báb 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.'”
[TC:] And this one.
[RK:] “The Bahá’í Revelation has administrative institutions established by Bahá’u’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.”
[TC:] How about this one?
[RK:] “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 Bahá’u’lláh.”
[TC:] Please read this.
[RK] “There are gaps in the Aqdas which the Will fills in as if the Master and Bahá’u’lláh had arranged it. An example of this complementariness between the Will and the Aqdas is the Huquq. Huquq is referred to in the Aqdas, also endowments, fees, fines, inheritance, etc. Bahá’u’lláh specifies in the Aqdas that fines, fees, inheritance, If the heirs are dead, and endowments are all payable to the House of Justice. Regarding Huquq, He does not say in the Aqdas to whom it is to be paid …. Bahá’u’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 Bahá’u’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.”
[TC: Do you recall writing these passages in your Notes?
[RK:] Yes. But isn’t it interesting that the Aqdas does not make it a requirement for the Huquq to be paid to the Guardian. So after Shoghi’s death, the House of Justice was able to accept it.
[TC:] But isn’t this contrary to the express terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?
[RK:] Yes but the House of Justice wrote…
[TC:] [interrupting] You mean, the sans-Guardian House of Justice.
[RK:] Yes, it wrote that Bahá’u’lláh had anticipated that the Guardianship might end, and that is why the Aqdas states that endowments dedicated to charity are governed by the Manifestation, and after Him by the Aghsán, and after them by the House of Justice.
[TC] I want you to look at these words that you put down in the Maxwell Notes. [handing passage to Rúhíyyih.] You indicated that Shoghi Effendi informed you of the Huquq referred to in the Aqdas, as well as “endowments, fees, fines, inheritance, etc.” From what you wrote it should be clear that endowments are something other than the Huquq. Notice that the statement reads as follows: “Huquq is referred to in the Aqdas, also endowments, fees, fines, inheritance, etc. Bahá’u’lláh specifies in the Aqdas that fines, fees, inheritance, if the heirs are dead, and endowments are all payable to the House of Justice.” Did Shoghi Effendi equate endowments devoted to charity with the Huquq?
[RK:] Not when he spoke with us.
[TC:] And yet the passage cited by your House of Justice talks about the decisions related to the endowments dedicated to charity rested “with the Aghsán (Branches), and after them with the House of Justice.” Tell me, do you recall any specific reference to the Guardianship within the passage that your House of Justice interpreted? That is, did Bahá’u’lláh use the word ‘Guardian’ or “Guardianship’?
[RK:] It refers to the Aghsán.
[TC:] I did not ask you about the Aghsán. My question was, is there a specific reference to the Guardianship in the passage your House of Justice interpreted?
[TC:] What do you recall from the Maxwell Notes regarding the relationship between the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice?
[RK:] I remember him saying that it is the Guardian’s responsibility to prevent the International House of Justice from abrogating any of the laws of the Aqdas.
[TC:] Yes, so the implication of that was what?
[RK:] Well, at that time the implication was that it would be possible for the Universal House of Justice to overstep its legislative responsibilities.
[TC:] I take it, then, that you would say that implication is no longer current?
[RK:] That’s right. The Universal House of Justice decided–
[TC:] [Interrupting] Your Universal House of Justice–which was formed in 1963 without the Guardian as its head?
[RK:] Yes. The Universal House of Justice took up this matter in the late 1960’s, I believe, and decided that the functions of the UHJ are not contingent upon the Guardian being present.
[TC:] I believe you are referring to a message of the sans-Guardian UHJ written on December 7. 1969. I have a copy of that message right here. I wonder if you would read for me the section that I have marked. [handing her a page]
[RK:] [Reading aloud] “The fact that the Guardian has the authority to define the sphere of the legislative action of the Universal House of Justice does not carry with it the corollary that without such guidance the Universal House of Justice might stray beyond the limits of its proper authority; such a deduction would conflict with all the other texts referring to its infallibility, and specifically with the Guardian’s own clear assertion that the Universal House of Justice never can or will infringe on the sacred and prescribed domain of the Guardianship.”
[TC:] Tell me, Madame Rabbani, in the absence of a living Guardian of the Faith, isn’t that statement by your UHJ just so much double talk? As your own Maxwell Notes attest, Shoghi Effendi told you that the Guardian’s responsibility is to prevent the International House of Justice from abrogating any of the laws of the Aqdas.
[RK:] I admit that it is a paradox.
[TC:] A paradox that is not likely to be resolved by a Universal House of Justice which is minus the Guardianship! Isn’t that so ? Can you please read this next message [pointing to the pages]
[RK:] “While the specific responsibility of the Guardian is the interpretation of the Word, he is also invested with all the powers and prerogatives necessary to discharge his function as Guardian of the Cause, its Head and supreme protector. He is, furthermore, made the irremovable head and member for life of the supreme legislative body of the Faith. It is as the head of the Universal House of Justice, and as a member of that body, that the Guardian takes part in the process of legislation. If the following passage, which gave rise to your query, is considered as referring to this last relationship, you will see that there is no contradiction between it and the other texts:
‘Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow members, but 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 Bahá’u’lláh’s utterances.”‘
[TC:] And that last quotation is from “The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah” written by Shoghi Effendi, isn’t it?
[TC:] It is curious, is it not, that your UHJ is talking about the Guardian as if he sits at its head and is involved in legislation. But your UHJ never did have a Guardian at its head, did it?
[RK:] No. Do you want me to read more?
[RK:] The UHJ wrote: “Although the Guardian, in relation to his fellow-members within the Universal House of Justice, cannot override the decision of the majority, it is inconceivable that the other members would ignore any objection he raised in the course of consultation or pass legislation contrary to what he expressed as being in harmony with the spirit of the Cause. It is, after all, the final act of judgment delivered by the Universal House of Justice that is vouchsafed infallibility, not any views expressed in the course of the process of enactment.”
[TC:] It appears your sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice has deemed the views expressed by Shoghi Effendi to be passé–whether they are the views which appear in the Maxwell Notes or those written in his “Dispensation.” By the way, wasn’t it stated in the Maxwell Notes that Shoghi Effendi identified his written work entitled “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh” as his ‘spiritual testament’?
[RK:] That’s correct. As I recall, the beloved Guardian actually said that he wrote it as his spiritual testament in detail because there was a danger that the friends might misunderstand the Master’s Will.
[TC:] I take it, that you would agree that ‘The Dispensation’ is a very important document for all Bahá’ís to study?
[TC:] And yet, as we have seen, there are apparently any number of things found in the ‘Dispensation’ written by Shoghi Effendi that you and the sans-guardian UHJ believe no longer apply. Do you recall some of the words of Shoghi Effendi in the Dispensation in which he described the divine genesis and exalted character of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
[RK:] I do. He said it is the “Charter of the New World Order,” and further that it is “the Child of the Covenant–the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God”–that is, Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá. He said that “the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it.”
[TC:] So, in effect, the Will of `Abdu’l-Bahá is actually the Will of both Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá?
[TC:] So the Will, then, is inseparable from the Divine Holy Text itself?
[TC:] And therefore it is not subject to modification by anybody?
[RK:] Well, the Universal House of Justice has stated that at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s death it was evident that it had been impossible for him to appoint a successor. And because of that, the situation “presented an obscure question not covered by the explicit Holy Text. and had to be referred to the Universal House of Justice.”
[TC:] But the Will and Testament clearly states that the Universal House of Justice only “enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text” and Shoghi Effendi has identified the Will and Testament as a part of that Text, yet your UHJ took it upon itself, not only to interpret certain passages of the Will and Testament but to declare that they were no longer operable and, thus, could be changed?
[RK:] They did not interpret the Writings. But it was clear to the House that there was no successor Guardian to Shoghi Effendi, and it had to do something.
[TC:] Let’s discuss that for a moment. In your direct testimony earlier, you stated that the reason why the Hands had to take over the Faith after Shoghi’s passing was because Shoghi had not left a Will.
[TC:] Where in the Holy Texts does it say that the Guardian is to appoint his successor in a Will?
[RK:] The manner in which the Guardian is appointed is stated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
[TC:] Let me direct your attention to a passage in the Will and have you read that to the Court.
[RK:] [Reading] “O ye beloved of the Lord! 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.”
[TC:] That does not refer to a Will, does it?
[TC:] In fact, it says quite the opposite doesn’t it?
[RK:] How so?
[TC:] It says, does it not, that the Guardian must appoint his successor “in his own lifetime”?
[TC:] And if the Master had meant by this that the Guardian was to write a Will during his life, would that make any sense? Is there any other time one can write a Will other than during one’s lifetime?
[TC:] So the Master must have meant by the words “in his own lifetime” that some means other than a Will applies in the appointment of the Guardian’s successor. After all, a Will does not come into effect during one’s lifetime, but only afterwards.
[RK:] Yes, I see that. But Shoghi could not have made an appointment anyway. We didn’t have children.
[TC:] And where in the Holy Texts, does it state that Shoghi Effendi must have children?
[RK:] Of course it doesn’t say that. We all know that the Guardian must be an Aghsán.
[TC:] Does it say that in the Holy Texts?
[RK:] In the Will and Testament, the Master uses the word Branches. That is the same thing.
[TC:] Have you seen anywhere in the Texts or the writings of Shoghi Effendi that defines the term “Aghsán”?
[RK:] Not that I recall, but everybody knows what it means.
[TC] Let me direct your attention to God Passes By, a book written by Shoghi Effendi, where on page 239, he refers to the Aghsán. Do you see how he defines it in parentheses?
[RK:] He defines them as Bahá’u’lláh’s Sons.
[TC:] And in the “Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah” translated by Shoghi Effendi, on page 244….
[RK:] OK, so what is your point?
[TC:] Of course, originally the Book of the Covenant referred to Bahá’u’lláh’s Sons, did it not?
[RK:] What do you mean?
[TC:] In the Book of the Covenant, Bahá’u’lláh appointed `Abdu’l-Bahá to be His successor, and then after Him, Muhammad Ali, the Greater Branch.
[RK:] Yes, but of course Muhammad Ali turned against `Abdu’l-Bahá.
[TC:] Indeed, and it was `Abdu’l-Bahá Himself who went outside of the Aghsán when He appointed Shoghi Effendi.
[RK:] [Becoming agitated] What are you trying to say, that Shoghi Effendi was not eligible to serve as Guardian?
[TC:] Not at all. What I am trying to say is that if we accept your premise that the Guardian must be an Aghsán, then the Master could not have appointed Shoghi Effendi to the Guardianship because Shoghi Effendi was not an Aghsán.
[RK:] But he was a part of the Holy Family. The House of Justice has stated that the Aghsán is a word used by Bahá’u’lláh to designate His male descendants.
[TC:] Assuming that is correct, Shoghi Effendi was not a male descendant of Bahá’u’lláh.
[RK:] [Becoming angry] That is nonsense! He was related to Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb!
[TC:] He was the grandson of `Abdu’l-Bahá by the Master’s daughter. That means his lineage is through a female descendant.
[RK:] I don’t know what you are trying to say.
[TC:] I am just trying to get to the truth about who is eligible to be appointed as Guardian.
[RK:] Everybody understood that the Guardian must be a male member of the Holy Family. Shoghi Effendi met that requirement.
[TC:] And Mason Remey did not?
[TC:] In your testimony, you stated that Mason Remey did not know Persian or Arabic and therefore he could not have been the Guardian. Where in the Holy Texts does it say that is a requirement?
[RK:] You know that it does not. Does everything have to be written? This is common sense. How can he interpret the Writings when he cannot even read the original?
[TC:] Perhaps if he is divinely guided, he could properly interpret a translation of the passage?
[RK:] Perhaps he could not.
[TC:] But don’t you think that if it were important for the Guardian to be fluent in a particular language that the Master would have so stated in His Will?
[RK:] Or he could have left a gap for the House of Justice to fill.
[TC:] Is it your testimony that the House was charged with deciding who was eligible to be Guardian?
[RK:] No I was just being facetious. But the Will and Testament did leave it to the Hands.
[TC:] What do you mean?
[RK:] The Hands must give their assent.
[TC:] Yes, I believe you testified that the nine elected Hands did not give their assent to Mason Remey.
[RK:] [Defiantly] That’s correct. We did not give our assent and therefore under the terms of the Will and Testament, Mason could not be the Guardian.
[TC:] It was your testimony that the Hands known as the “Custodians” were the elected nine?
[TC:] And it was your testimony that the Custodians rejected Mason’s claim to office?
[TC:] Were the Custodians elected by the Hands?
[RK:] Yes, of course. It is all there in my book on our ministry.
[TC:] You are referring, of course, to the book, The Ministry of the Custodians?
[TC:] Let me direct your attention, in that book, to the “Unanimous Proclamation of the 27 Hands,” dated November 25, 1957.
[RK:] Yes that was the proclamation that established the Custodians.
[TC:] Can you read this section here where the Hands named the Custodians?
[RK:] Certainly….[reading] “AND WHEREAS in accordance with the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá) ‘the Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the Guardian of the Cause of God'”…… [Pausing]
[TC:] Please go on.
[RK:] [Resumes reading] “We nominate and appoint from our own number to act on our behalf as the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith”
[TC:] Please stop right there. So they were appointed?
[RK:] Okay, so we used the word appointed.
[TC:] They were not elected, were they?
[RK:] Appointed, elected– Does it really make a difference?
[TC:] But the proclamation says appointed, not elected?
[RK:] You have made your point, they were not elected.
[TC:] Also, the Custodians were not appointed until after the death of Shoghi Effendi?
[RK:] Yes of course, so what?
[TC:] So the Custodians were not elected and they never did occupy themselves in the important services in the work of the Guardian.
[RK:] [Interrupting] The Custodians did exactly that–we carried out the work of the Guardian.
[TC:] But at the time when the Guardian was doing his work, in his lifetime, the Custodians were not assisting the Guardian in his work?
[RK:] No. The Custodians did not exist in his lifetime.
[TC:] And, now knowing that Shoghi Effendi had indeed appointed Mason Remey as his successor, it is true, is it not, that the Hands had no authority whatsoever to veto Shoghi’s choice, but had a duty to assent to the Guardian’s choice?
[TC:] And it was your testimony, was it not, that Mason Remey was not appointed in accordance with the Will and Testament, but it is true, is it not, that he indeed was?
[TC:] And in your testimony, you stated that the Custodian’s authority came from Shoghi Effendi’s characterization of the Hands as “Chief Stewards”?
[RK:] Yes, we were carrying out his policies on his behalf for the remainder of the Ten Year Crusade.
[TC:] We will get to that in a moment, but for right now, I would like to stick to the authority of the Custodians. The appellation of Chief Stewards, your mandate that is the only authority from Shoghi Effendi you have?
[TC:] What is a steward?
[RK:] What do you mean?
[TC:] A steward, do you know what it is?
[CW:] Objection! Mr. Chase is simply badgering the witness.
[TC:] Your honor, Madame Rabbani’s testimony is that the authority of the Custodians to reign over the Bahá’í world arises out of Shoghi Effendi’s use of the term “stewards” with reference to the Hands therefore it is appropriate for me to explore the validity of that claim further.
[LG:] Overruled. Madame Rabbani, you may answer the question.
[RK:] A steward is a servant.
[TC:] And to appoint someone as your servant is not to give authority to that person, is it?
[RK:] Well, ordinarily not. A servant is not in a position of authority. But the Master Himself was a servant.
[TC:] Are you equating the authority of the Master with the authority of the Hands?
[TC:] So then by describing the Hands in a station of servitude, it would not be reasonable to assume that Shoghi Effendi meant by his reference to the Hands as “Chief Stewards” that it was his intention to pass on to the Hands all his functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith as stated in your proclamation?
[TC:] And yet that is exactly the authority the Custodians assumed as a sort of collective Guardianship?
[RK:] Only until the Universal House of Justice was elected and assumed authority.
[TC:] You stated earlier that besides receiving authority from Shoghi Effendi, the Custodians had. received authority from others, namely, their acceptance by the Bahá’í world as the head of the Faith.
[RK:] [Interrupting] Yes, all of the National Assemblies, all of the communities worldwide accepted us.
[TC:] They did so only after the Custodians demanded all of the National Assemblies sign a loyalty oath recognizing them as “the supreme body in the Cause”…. didn’t they?
[RK] You could call it that, but our attorney—
[TC:] [Interrupting] And I quote: “We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.” That was the oath, wasn’t it.? They were also to accept that the Custodians were elected even though it was not true.
[RK:] Our lawyer said we should get it.
[TC:] And there is no authority anywhere in the Writings for the Hands to demand the National Assemblies pledge allegiance to them, is there?
[RK:] [Reluctantly] No. But we were carrying out the work of Shoghi Effendi. Disloyalty to us was disloyalty to Shoghi Effendi
[TC:] But in reality, you had no right to demand loyalty. Did not your lawyer say you should get these expressions of loyalty, because he knew you had no authority?
[CW:] Objection, your honor, the advice of counsel is attorney-client privileged information and the defense has not raised it your honor. It is beyond the scope of the direct exam.
[LG:] Sustained. Next question, counsel.
[TC:] But it is true that you knew you had no authority?
[RK:] I don’t know what you mean.
[TC:] Let me direct your attention to this passage from the Ministry of Custodians, right here… can you please read this to the Court?
[RK] [Reading] “Aside from the thought that we were now the only ones to direct the Bahá’ís of the world, to protect and guide them and to win the Crusade of our beloved Guardian, we were faced with problems of inconceivable magnitude. How to assume the reins of authority, with no document to support us, other than the general theological statements about the Hands? ”
[TC:] It sounds like you knew you were on shaky ground.
[RK:] I have already explained our situation to you. We did not know what else to do. People were looking to us to lead the Faith. Our duty was to complete the Ten Year Crusade and to establish the Universal House of Justice to lead us after that.
[TC:] We will certainly get to the establishment of your House of Justice. But first, I want to learn more about your claim that the Custodians were doing nothing more than simply completing the Ten Year Crusade, carrying out the work of the first Guardian.
[RK:] All of the Hands were intent on carrying out the wishes of Shoghi Effendi– all of the Hands remained in his service after his death, and we did just that, all the way up to the election of the House of Justice. There was nothing else for us to do.
[TC:] That really is why you believe the Custodians were justified in taking over the Faith because they were merely following the first Guardian’s wishes?
[RK:] Yes, that is what I have been saying all along. Correct. We were the Chief Stewards. It was our job to carry the Faith through these uncertain times. To faithfully complete what Shoghi Effendi had started, and to erect the Universal House of Justice so that it could carry the Faith into the future.
[TC:] Let us take a look at the goals for the Ten Year Crusade. I am referring to Shoghi Effendi’s cablegram of October 8, 1952. Let me have you read this passage here.
[RK:] Before I do that, allow me to read another passage from that cablegram.
[TC:] All right.
[RK:] [Reading] “The broad outlines of the world-encircling plan were divinely revealed. Its course was charted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s infallible Pen. Its shining goals have been set. The requisite administrative machinery has been created. Signal has been given by the Author of the Plan, its Supreme Commander. The Lord of Hosts, the King of Kings has pledged unfailing aid to every crusader battling for His Cause. Invisible battalions are mustered, rank upon rank, ready to pour forth reinforcements from on high. Bahá’u’lláh’s army of light is standing on the threshold of the Holy Year. Let them, as they enter it, vow with one voice, one heart, one soul, never to turn back in the entire course of the fateful decade ahead until each and every one will have contributed his share in laying on a world-wide scale an unassailable administrative foundation for Bahá’u’lláh’s Christ-promised Kingdom on earth…”
[TC:] [Interrupting] I don’t see what this has to do with our discussion.
[RK:] Shoghi Effendi is clearly stating his wish that all of us, not just the Hands, but all of us, are never to turn back no matter what happens during the fateful decade ahead. He seemed to almost know that he was going to pass away, and he wanted us to know how important it was for the Crusade to be victorious, and that we must not hold back from achieving those goals. That is exactly what we set out to do, no matter how much you want to twist that.
[TC:] I am not twisting anything. And I agree with you that Shoghi Effendi seemed to know he was not going to survive the Ten Year Crusade, and I intend to get to that shortly. But for right now, let’s take a look at some of those goals. Now this was a very ambitious plan, wasn’t it?
[RK:] It certainly was. Shoghi had a vision of the Faith spreading throughout the world in just one decade. There were 12 national plans. He even called for the functions of the Hands to expand.
[TC:] I believe he called for the “development” of the functions of the Hands, not its expansion.
[RK:] I don’t think there is any difference. The point was that Shoghi’s vision was for a global and universal expansion of the Cause like we had never seen. Unfortunately, events prevented us from doing it all.
[TC:] Now didn’t you just read me a passage of that cablegram, implying Shoghi Effendi’s apparent foreknowledge of his death, and that he did not want anything that might occur to deter the believers from achieving the goals?
[RK:] We did everything we could to achieve Shoghi’s goals.
[TC:] But not all of them. Did you accomplish this goal [reading]: Establishment of six national Bahá’í Courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East — Tihran, Cairo, Baghdad, New Delhi, Karachi, Kabul.” Did the Custodians even work on that goal?
[RK:] That was out of the question. It was impossible.
[TC:] Apparently, Shoghi believed it was possible. What about this? [Reading]: “The establishment of a Bahá’í Court in the Holy Land, preliminary to the emergence of the Universal House of Justice.”
[RK:] Obviously, if there were no national Courts, we could not establish one in the World Center. What would have been the point?
[TC:] The point is, were you working on the agenda of Shoghi Effendi, or were you working on your own agenda?
[RK:] Just because we could not achieve every goal did not mean we were working on our own agenda.
[TC:] Well, it seems to me that you just conveniently ignored Shoghi Effendi’s wishes when it came to the development of the International Bahá’í Council during the Ten Year Plan. Perhaps if you had focused on Shoghi’s wishes for that, you would not be appearing on trial today.
[RK:] I don’t know what you are getting at. That cablegram does not even mention the IBC.
[TC:] Perhaps it does. You recall when Shoghi established the IBC?.
[RK:] Not that again. How many times is that going to be brought up?
[TC:] As often as necessary [laughter in the courtroom] .
[RK:] [Impatiently] I know, the stages of development.
[TC:] Exactly, you know the stages?
[RK:] Yes, nobody will let me forget [laughter in the courtroom]. First, its embryonic stage, then we would create a Court.
[TC:] Not exactly. Perhaps you will read it for this Court [pointing to paper]
[RK:] [Reading]: “its development into officially recognized Bahá’í Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House of Justice…
[TC:] Thank you, you can stop right there. Isn’t it fair to say that Shoghi had envisioned that, by the end of the Crusade, the IBC would be functioning as the World Court in Haifa, and that the ten National Courts in the East, would have been brought about by the development of the National Spiritual Assemblies of those countries into functioning National Courts under the jurisdiction of this International Bahá’í Court?
[RK:] He did not say that in the cablegram, did he?
[TC:] Not in so many words, but you just read Shoghi’s plan for the IBC: developing, transforming, and efflorescing. He never proposed a court system separate from the IBC and the National Assemblies?
[TC:] And you recall Shoghi’s cablegram of April 25, 1951?
[TC:] Here it is. Will you read this passage [pointing].
[RK] [reading]: “Process of the unfoldment of the ever-advancing Administrative Order accelerated by the formation of the International Bahá’í Council designed to assist in the erection of the superstructure of the Báb’s Sepulcher, cement ties uniting the budding World Administrative Center with the recently established state, and pave the way for the formation of the Bahá’í Court, essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice.”
[TC:] So then why did the Custodians not allow the IBC to develop into the Bahá’í Court that Shoghi envisioned and called an essential prelude to the UHJ, if you so were intent upon carrying out his wishes?
[RK:] Because the IBC was not functioning. It had very narrow functions, just as that cable says. The Custodians were in charge of the entire Bahá’í World. We had the responsibility.
[TC:] That’s my point exactly. The Custodians took that responsibility away from where it belonged and placed it upon their own shoulders. Why?
[RK:] I told you, it was not possible to establish those courts.
[TC:] So you are saying Shoghi Effendi was wrong? Isn’t it true that the only reason you did not allow the IBC to develop was because Mason Remey was its head, and you did not want him to become the Chief Judge– because you knew what that would mean?
[RK:] Preposterous. You are just reading in more importance to the IBC than it deserved. It was only the liaison with the State of Israel.
[TC:] It seems to me that the problem here is not my reading things in, but that you are reading things out. It was Shoghi Effendi himself who said the IBC would develop, transform, and effloresce. It was he who said a court was a necessary prelude. Why do you ignore it? Shoghi himself told you that Mason Remey would be Chief Judge, didn’t he?
[RK:] What are you saying? He did not.
[TC:] It was November, 1952, you may recall.
[RK indignantly:] I do not.
[TC:] Allow me to refresh your memory. Joel B Marangella and his wife, Irene, were on pilgrimage. I assume that you know who is Joel Marangella?
[RK:] Of course. He was the President of the French NSA and an Auxiliary Board Member of the Hands in Europe at the time of Mason’s proclamation. [Laughter in the Courtroom]
[TC:] Yes, he was. But that is not all, is it [more laughter]?
[RK reluctantly:] Yes, he claims to have become the Guardian, after Mason.
[TC:] Do you recall his pilgrimage?
[RK:] Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. When my mother May Maxwell died in Buenos Aires in 1940 where she was pioneering for the Faith, Joel sent Shoghi Effendi a poem honoring her memory which I kept in my prayer book all of the years afterwards and told him about this when he and Irene arrived on pilgrimage in 1952.
[TC:] Joel also sent you a letter during Ridvan 1988, a copy of which I have seen, in which he reminded you about a particularly poignant incident that took place during his and Irene’s pilgrimage when you, Mason Remey and four other members of the Council were seated around the dinner table one night, November 30, 1952 to be exact, in the presence of Shoghi Effendi.
[TC:] And Shoghi Effendi said something that made you very upset. Do you recall bursting into tears and leaving the dinner table?
[RK:] Oh yes, I recall.
[FADE OUT TO DINNER SCENE AT HAIFA. Shoghi Effendi, Mason Remey, Rúhíyyih Khánum, Leroy Ioas, Sylvia Ioas,, Ethel and Jessie Revell, Joel and Irene Marangella are eating and talking and the scene fades in with Shoghi Effendi in mid-sentence ]
[Shoghi Effendi:] …. it was towards the end of his life, when `Abdu’l-Bahá was so busy with His duties and responsibilities. There were so many of the friends writing to Him back and forth that his correspondence became a heavy burden to him. He could hardly handle it anymore before He passed away [pause as Shoghi Effendi returns to eating his food]
[SE:] Now my own correspondence is becoming more than I can handle.
[RK jumps up from the table, bursting into tears and runs from the room.]
[THE AUDIO OF THE DINNER TABLE SCENE FADES OUT AS THEY CONTINUE TO TALK AND EAT AND THE LIGHTS GO BACK UP ON THE TRIAL SCENE.]
[TC:] Do you recall why you left the table?
[RK:] It was very extremely upsetting to hear Shoghi predict that he was about to pass away. I could not bear to hear such foreknowledge of his death.
[TC:] It’s no wonder that Shoghi obscured the appointment of Mason Remey as his successor, in the way that he did. If he had not done so, considering how old Mason was at the time, it would have been clear to the believers that Shoghi Effendi’s passing was imminent.
[CW:] Objection, your honor. Is there a question for the witness?
[TC:] That’s alright. I will move on. Do you recall who was present at the time of this discussion?
[RK:] It was Shoghi and myself, Joel and Irene Marangella, Mason Remey Leroy Ioas and the Revell sisters, all members of the IBC, residing permanently in Haifa or five members of the Council, including myself, Sylvia not becoming a member until 1955.
[TC:] So, in effect, there was a quorum of the IBC present at the dinner table?
[RK:] You might say that, yes.
[TC:] Can you recall what else Shoghi Effendi said next?
[RK:] I was gone for a short time, but managed to compose myself. When I got back, they were talking about the IBC.
FADE BACK IN TO DINNER TABLE SCENE IN HAIFA] (Rúhíyyih Kanum is returning to the table)
[SE:] The Baha’i Court to be established in Haifa will operate initially only for the Eastern world where religious law is recognized. The present President of the International Bahá’í Council will then become the Judge. [turning to Mason] Mason, are you ready to become a Judge?
[Mason nods while there is laughter around the table]
[RK:] When the Council becomes a Court, would all of the women get off ?
[SE:] No, not even in the next stage when the Council becomes an elected body but only when the International House of Justice is formed.
[DINNER TABLE SCENE FADES AND COURTROOM SCENE RESUMES]
[TC:] So you admit that Shoghi Effendi told you that Mason was to become the Chief Judge.
[TC:] So it follows logically, does it not, that if Mason’s presidency of the IBC was to continue in the second stage of its development as the Chief Judge of the Court, that it was Shoghi Effendi’s obvious intention that he should continue to remain the head of the IBC as it evolved through its subsequent stages until attaining its maturity and efflorescence as the Universal House of Justice?
[RK:] It does, although Shoghi did not specifically say that.
[TC:] But if you knew that Mason was to be the Chief Judge, why then did you work to prevent this from happening? Why did you and your fellow-Custodian Hands call for the election of a false Universal House of Justice in place of the IBC with Mason Remey at its head?
[RK:] I have already answered this. You know why. It was impossible to create the courts. We had to elect a Universal House of Justice. We had no choice.
[TC:] Why do you suppose you were designated as the “chosen liaison” between Shoghi Effendi and the Council? After all, as all of its members residing in Haifa dined with Shoghi every night, why couldn’t he speak with them directly?
[RK:] I never really thought about it.
[TC:] Could it be that he was trying to make clear that the IBC was not functioning, that it was still in its inactive embryonic stage? Perhaps he was making it clear that he, as the Guardian, had no direct relationship with the IBC?
[RK:] I don’t know what he was trying to do.
[TC:] Are you familiar with `Abdu’l-Bahá’s teachings on embryos?
[RK:] I suppose….well, I am not sure.
[TC:] I am referring to this [reading] “The embryo possesses from the first all perfections…all the powers – but they are not visible, and become so only by degrees.”
[RK:] Oh yes, I am familiar with that. But I have no idea what you are getting at.
[TC:] I am trying to suggest that the IBC was the embryonic UHJ, and that it was to evolve through different stages. That the IBC and the UHJ were one and the same institution.
[RK:] I understand. It clearly was.
[TC:] Why then, did you tell the believers to cling to the Hands instead of to the IBC?
[RK:] I never said that.
[TC] I am reading from your cable to the Bahá’ís telling them of Shoghi’s passing. And I quote: “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 BELOVED GUARDIAN.”
[RK:] I can’t tell you why I said that. I wasn’t thinking. I did not know. I assumed there would be no more Guardians. We had no children.
[TC:] Do you deny that Shoghi Effendi anticipated future Guardians?
[RK:] He could not predict the future.
[TC:] Can you identify this document for me [handing paper to witness]?
[RK:] [Pausing}… I wrote this. It is titled: “Twenty Five Years of the Guardianship.”
[TC:] You wrote this in 1948?
[TC:] Can you read this passage to the Court?
[RK:] [Sighing] Oh all right. [reading]: “for the first time in history, a religion has been given to men which cannot be split up into sects, for the two Wills – those of Bahá’u’lláh and the Master are so strongly constructed and so authentic beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is impossible to divorce the body of the teachings from their provisions. The principle of successorship, [as found in the Guardianship] 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.”
[TC:] I take it, you no longer agree with that?
[RK:] My understanding had grown after that.
[TC:] Let me read you a passage from God Passes By, written by Shoghi Effendi and published in 1944. He describes Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation quoting phrases from Bahá’u’lláh. [reading] ” ‘This,’ He furthermore declares, ‘is the king of days,’ the ‘Day of God Himself,’ the ‘Day which shall never be followed by night,’ the ‘Springtime which autumn will never overtake,’ ” Do you know whether Shoghi Effendi ever commented on the meaning of Bahá’u’llåh’s Words that “this is the Day that shall never be followed by night?”
[TC:] Please read this passage [pointing and handing paper to witness]
[RK:] [Reading]: “Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a Mouthpiece, a human being, a Prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of that acceptance to also accept the station of `Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardians.” Yes I believe I wrote this.
[TC:] You wrote this on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf, did you not? He approved it?
[TC:] Please go on. Please read the rest of the passage.
[RK:] [Reading] “The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e. the Guardians), guided directly by the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by ‘this is the day which will not be followed by night’. In this dispensation, divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet’s ascension, through, first the Master, and then the Guardians. If a person can accept Bahá’u’lláh’s function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained in a divinely guided individual in matters pertaining to the Faith.”
[TC:] Thank you.
[RK:] But the Guardian could not have known at that time. It was written in 1948. He did not know what the future held for the Faith. He was not a prophet.
[TC:] You are saying that the first Guardian’s interpretation of the Holy Texts was incorrect?
[RK:] No, of course not. Circumstances changed. He could not have known.
[TC:] To the best of your knowledge, did he ever retract that statement?
[TC:] Before I wrap up, I want to explore one more thing I am curious about. Let me direct your attention to the time when the Custodians called for the election of your so-called UHJ.
[TC:] And to make it easy, I will call it “your UHJ” so everybody knows what I am talking about.
[TC:] It was April 21, 1963, when the NSA’s elected your UHJ, correct?
[TC:] And at the time you believed this body to be the Supreme Universal House of Justice of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Commonwealth, is that correct?
[RK:] Yes, that would be true.
[TC:] And yet the Custodians continued to operate for some time after that, right?
[RK:] Of course, there was a transition period. It took some time before the UHJ could get organized, and for the members to situate themselves.
[TC:] All right, that is reasonable. But I am curious about a letter your UHJ sent to the Custodians on June 7, 1963. Actually, would you mind reading this for me?
[RK:] [Reading] “Beloved Friends, Pursuant to the several discussions which we have had with you relevant to the transfer of the ‘functions, rights and powers’ vested in the Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith by virtue of the Declaration of the Hands of the Cause of God made at Bahjí on November 25th, 1957, please be advised that the Universal House of Justice has decided that the office of Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith ceases to exist upon your receipt of this communication.”
[TC:] That is really a remarkable communication, isn’t it?
[RK:] I don’t know what you mean, why?
[TC:] The Declaration your UHJ is referring to is the one in which the Custodians, were first appointed by the body of the Hands and assumed, (and I quote)”all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá’í World Faith.”
[RK:] Yes, so?
[TC:] Well it seems to me that your UHJ is admitting that it has usurped the powers of the Guardian.
[RK:] I disagree. It was merely assuming control over the Faith from the Custodians.
[TC:] Another thing that seems strange: your UHJ stated that the Custodians would cease to exist as of the date of that communication, June 7, 1963, but then the Custodians– now a supposedly non-existent entity– wrote to this body seven days later on June 14th.
[RK:] The Hands in the Holy Land still existed. We were letting our fellow Hands know what was happening at the time. We were no longer in control of anything
[TC:] My point is that you still continued to sign correspondence in the same way you had previously done as the Custodians, even though that body had supposedly ceased to exist. But I am still puzzled that, notwithstanding the fact that this Supreme UHJ, or at least that body that you contended had come into existence on April 21, 1963, the Custodians continued to act as the head of the Faith until June 7, 1963.
[RK:] I already said. The UHJ was getting organized. There was a transition.
[TC:] How could there be two supreme entities, two heads of the Faith existing at the same time?
[RK:] There was not, well. [flustered]….. I don’t see what this has to do with anything.
[TC:] You will recall that when the Custodians first took over, you had the National Assemblies all over the world write to you to acknowledge the Custodians as “the supreme body in the Cause…elected by the Hands.”
[TC:] But in your declaration dated June 7, 1963, sent with your communication of June 14th– a full 7 days after your body ceased to exist–your declaration admits finally that the Custodians were appointed and not elected. And in this correspondence these Custodians retain some of the authority over the Hands. My question to you is, if the Custodians ceased to exist, and if all of the powers of the Guardian previously exercised by the Custodians had now been transferred to your UHJ, why then did the Custodians continue to coordinate the work of the Hands?
[RK:] I don’t understand. Of course the Hands continued to function after the election of the UHJ.
[TC:] But control over the Hands is a function of the Guardian, is it not, and those functions had already been transferred by the Custodians to your UHJ?
[RK:] You are just twisting words, now.
[TC:] I think not. It seems to me that the Custodians were the ones twisting words, and they did so to such an extent that even they were confused about the continuing powers, if any, they were exercising.
[CW:] Objection, your honor. Mr. Chase is badgering the witness.
[TC:] That’s all right. No further questions.
[LG:] Mr. Wolcott, do you have anything else?
[CW:] Nothing further.
ACT 3, SCENE 1 ORAL ARGUMENT
[LG:] This Court has reviewed the testimony of the witnesses and the documents submitted into evidence. Now each side will be given an opportunity to argue their respective positions. Please be brief and offer insight to this Court as to how it should rule. The Prosecution will begin. Mr Chase?
[TC:] Thank you, your honor. The prosecution has established un-controvertible evidence that the Hands have violated the Covenant. It has been established that there is an unbroken line from Bahá’u’lláh to `Abdu’l-Bahá, to Shoghi Effendi, and to Mason Remey and the International Bahá’í Council. The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá was divinely conceived, the provisions of which are immutable, and this Document is in the words of Shoghi Effendi the “Child of the Covenant – the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God” and thus it represents the Will of both Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá.
[Justice Martha Root:] Is there expressed any authority for the proposition that the Will should be considered to be the Will of both Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá?
[TC thumbing through his papers:]: Yes, as a matter of fact…. Shoghi Effendi expressly stated this when he wrote: “For nothing short of the explicit directions of their Book, and the surprisingly emphatic language with which they have clothed the provisions of their Will could possibly safeguard the Faith for which they have both so gloriously labored all their lives.” [underlining added for emphasis] The word “Their” was referring, of course, to Bahá’u’lláh and`Abdu’l-Bahá. That was from The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, at page 22.
[Justice Root:] Thank you. Please go on.
[TC:] The evidence presented has shown that it was incumbent upon Shoghi Effendi, according to that Will, to appoint his successor in his own life time, meaning that the appointment had to be made while Shoghi was alive and not by way of a testamentary document.
[Justice Martha Root interrupting:] The entire Bahá’í world at the time of Shoghi’s death was expecting to find a Will left behind by Shoghi Effendi. By what authority do you now proclaim that a testamentary document was not to be the vehicle for appointing a successor?
[TC:] Thank you, let me explain further. The Will and Testament says “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.”
[Justice Root:] Certainly, differences did arise after his passing. It appears that Shoghi Effendi may have failed to comply. But isn’t a Will written during the life of the testator and therefore a Will could be the vehicle for appointment?
[TC:] That interpretation would not make sense. As you know, under the law a Will has no legal effect whatsoever until the death of the testator. Prior to the death of the testator, no person has any claim under the Will, and the testator is free to change it. Upon the death of the testator, it becomes final and valid and takes effect. Thus, an appointment in the Will is not effective during the life time of the testator. It takes effect only after the testator’s life time. Of course, the testator cannot write the Will after he is dead. A Will must be written during the testator’s life time. But if `Abdu’l-Bahá intended for the appointment to occur in a Will, it would have been redundant for `Abdu’l-Bahá to say it was incumbent upon the Guardian to appoint his successor during his life time, since that would be the only time a Will could be written. Moreover, the phrase “that differences may not arise after his passing” seems to suggest that by effecting the appointment in a Will there is the risk that persons would argue over the validity of the appointment, as heirs often contest a Will after the passing of the testator. By requiring the appointment during the life time of the Guardian, all will be aware of the Guardian’s choice while he is still alive to make his wishes known to all.
[Justice Root:] Thank you; I understand what you are saying. But it is true that differences did arise. It seems that Shoghi Effendi was not clear enough or explicit in his appointment.
[TC:] Indeed it does appear that way. The prosecution respectfully submits to this Court, that Shoghi Effendi’s chosen method of appointing his successor was his choice to make, as long as he remained within the confines of what the Will and Testament obligated him to do.
[Justice John Esslemont:] I think what Mr. Chase is saying here is that as long as Shoghi Effendi complied with the Will and Testament, it is not relevant that he carried out the appointment in a manner that caused the vast majority of Bahá’ís to be unaware the appointment had been made.
[Justice Root:] But differences did arise after his passing. The purpose of this court is to adjudge the reasonableness of the defendants’ actions, and the manner of Mr. Remey’s appointment certainly is relevant to that. Why didn’t Shoghi Effendi come out and say that Mason Remey was to be the second Guardian?
[TC:] Shoghi Effendi is not the one on trial here. We don’t know the reasons why he chose the approach he did. Consider the fact that if he had announced to the Baha’i World clearly that Mason Remey was his chosen successor, who at the time was some 23 years his senior and yet destined to outlive him, would not that have, in effect, predicted his own early demise, a shocking prospect, which Shoghi Effendi would have wanted to conceal from the believers? If the Hands had permitted the IBC to assume its rightful role in the direction of the NSA’s as Shoghi Effendi had projected in his message of 23 Novermber 1951, then Mason Remey, presiding as he would have been over the Çouncil, may have then been recognized as the second Guardian of the Faith. The point is it was incumbent upon Shoghi Effendi to appoint his successor “in his own life time,” and he complied. He appointed Mason Remey as the President of the embryonic Universal House of Justice – the embryonic head of the embryonic Central Body– and that head under the express terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, can only be the Guardian of the Faith. I should point out that Shoghi Effendi was not exactly silent on this point, even though it appears the Bahá’í world apparently did not hear him. As you know, Shoghi Effendi sent his proclamation of January 9, 1951 to the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world. He described his decision as epoch-making, and “the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order” since the passing of `Abdu’l-Bahá. He described the stages this body would go through; explicitly saying it would ultimately effloresce into the Universal House of Justice. I will also point out that Shoghi Effendi clearly identified the IBC as the Universal House of Justice and its head as the Guardian in other communications. For example, at the end of that same year as his proclamation, 1951, —to be exact November 23, 1951, a letter published by the NSA of the United States under the title: World Order Unfolds, Shoghi Effendi unambiguously refers to the IBC as the Central Body and stated that it would be directing the National Assemblies during the course of the 10 Year Crusade that was to be completed in 1963. Shoghi Effendi quite explicitly was identifying the IBC as the future House of Justice in the Bahá’í world after his passing. Even prior to the establishment of the IBC, Shoghi Effendi stated explicitly that the head of the International Bahá’í Council and the Guardian were one and the same person.
[Justice Dorothy Baker:] You have a quotation from Shoghi Effendi that says this?
[TC:] Yes, your honor. And I quote: “The passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá marked the termination of the first and Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Faith and signalized the opening of the Formative Age destined to witness the gradual emergence of its Administrative Order, whose establishment had been foretold by the Báb, whose laws were revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, whose outlines were delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament, and whose foundations are now being laid by national and local councils which are elected by the professed adherents of the Faith, and which are paving the way for the constitution of the World Council, to be designated as the Universal House of Justice, which in conjunction with me, as its appointed Head and the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í teachings, must coordinate and direct the affairs of the Bahá’í community, and whose seat will be permanently established in the Holy Land, in close proximity to its world spiritual center, the resting-places of its Founders.” That was from a statement submitted by Shoghi Effendi to the United Nations Special Palestine Committee in July of 1947.
[Justice George Townshend:] But, as the head of the UHJ can only be the Guardian, then why didn’t Shoghi Effendi assume the presidency?
[TC:] In not assuming the presidency himself, and by retaining the International Bahá’í Council in an inactive embryonic state, Shoghi Effendi was able to use it as an instrument to appoint its embryonic head who would become his successor, when the Council was born into life, as an actively functioning administrative body, following his passing, That is why he appointed Rúhíyyih Khánum as his “chosen liaison” to this embryonic body– an umbilical cord relationship as it were–that precluded any semblance of his assumption of the presidency himself.
[Justice Townshend:] Assuming for a moment that you are correct, then what about this argument that the Hands did not give their assent to Mr. Remey’s appointment?
[TC:] As you know, there were no Hands in existence at the time when Shoghi Effendi created the IBC and appointed Mason Remey as its president.
[Justice Townshend:] So isn’t that an argument similar to the one made by the defendants, that portions of the Will and Testament were not operative?
[TC:] Certainly not. We are not suggesting that the Will ever was inoperative. At the time of Shoghi Effendi’s ministry the Institutions of the Faith were coming into being and evolving. Indeed his ministry consisted of erecting the Institutions of the Bahá’í Commonwealth as set forth in the Master’s Will and Testament. The IBC, the embryonic UHJ, was, as he stated the “the first embryonic International Institution” created by him prior to the others. The first contingent of the Hands was not appointed until a year later. In fact, the Faith had never evolved to the point under Shoghi Effendi’s ministry where he had required the services of nine Hands to be serving under his direction in the Holy Land, as set forth in the Will and Testament.
[Justice Roy Wilhelm:] So you are saying that the requirement for these nine Hands to vote their assent to the appointment of his successor was not necessary?
[TC:] I am not saying it was unnecessary, but only that it was not yet possible. It is entirely reasonable to expect that, had Shoghi Effendi lived a longer life, there would have been nine Hands in the Holy Land and Shoghi Effendi would have had them assent to his appointment. Of course, Shoghi Effendi’s untimely death prevented this from coming to pass.
[Justice Keith Ransom-Keller interrupting:] It should be noted of course, that Shoghi Effendi already clearly interpreted that passage in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to mean that the Hands had no authority to veto the Guardian’s choice. Their assent was a wise safeguard against any fraudulent claim to the Guardianship in the future by requiring nine highly reputable and incorruptible witnesses to attest by secret ballot to the unquestionable authenticity of the Guardian’s appointment of his successor.
[TC:] Agreed. The statements by Shoghi Effendi to this effect are clear. I will quote from a letter by Shoghi Effendi, published in Bahá’í News, February, 1955: “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.” There is no evidence to suggest that because there were not nine Hands serving in the Holy Land to assent to Shoghi appointment that the appointment was ineffective or invalid. The Guardian made his publicly announced and undeniably clear choice and it was incumbent upon all faithful believers, including the Hands, to accept his choice and to obey.
[LG:] Time is running short. Perhaps you could conclude your remarks.
[TC:] Certainly, your honor. The prosecution’s evidence clearly shows that Shoghi Effendi fully complied with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and that the Will and Testament was immutable and obligatory and there is no excuse for anyone to question or doubt the validity of the continuing Guardianship. Now the reasonableness and validity of what the Hands did upon the passing of Shoghi Effendi is the ultimate question for this Court to decide. Allow me to comment for just a few moments on this issue. It is easy for us to look in hindsight on this and see it very clearly for what it is. The prosecution sympathizes to a certain extent with the Hands at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s death. It was a tremendous shock both to them and to all Bahá’ís and completely unexpected. Many believers, in their consternation, were turning to the Hands for direction, and they were in shock and in mourning and they obviously were not thinking straight. Perhaps we should therefore give the Hands the benefit of the doubt during their initial conclave at which time they decided that the Guardianship had ended. After all, they did not reveal this decision outside of the Hands, and it was a hasty decision arrived at without careful thought or thorough study. Even Mason Remey, the second Guardian at the time, did not fully comprehend the situation—
[Justice Baker Interrupting:] So what are you saying? That the Hands did not violate the Covenant?
[TC:] There is some doubt at the beginning, which is all I am conceding. If I may continue. There was plenty of opportunity for the Hands to reconsider, reflect and study this question and to have arrived at the correct conclusion. I submit that had the defendants not been caught up in the spirit of violation, and had they taken the time to re-examine the “historic” and “epoch-making” messages of Shoghi Effendi sent to the Baha’i World during the concluding years of his ministry, it would have become readily apparent to them that the International Bahá’í Council with Mason Remey at its head, was the rightful body to lead the Faith, and not the Hands and consequently there been no need to establish the illegitimate body of the Custodian Hands and subsequently call for the election of a premature, headless and illegitimate UHJ in 1963. Had they come to the realization that Shoghi Effendi had carefully erected all of the Institutions necessary for the Faith to carry out its mission into the future in accordance with the Will and Testament and had retained an unwavering faith in the Covenant, the Hands would have readily discovered that Shoghi’s successor was right in their midst.
[Justice Baker:] But the bottom line is that the defendants willfully violated the Covenant?
[TC:] Exactly. The evidence is clear. Mason Remey repeatedly and patiently explained to them that their course of conduct was a violation of the Covenant, yet they persisted. They refused to acknowledge Mason’s authority and the authority of the International Bahá’í Council. Ultimately they disbanded the IBC, expelled the second Guardian of the Faith, disbanded the only faithful NSA, and called for the election of an illegitimate headless House of Justice in place of the Divine Institutions delineated in the Will and Testament.
[LG:] Thank you, Mr. Chase. The Court recognizes Mr. Wolcott. Your comments?
[CW:] Thank you, your honor. The defendants have acknowledged to this Court that Mason Remey was in fact the second Guardian. This acknowledgment was derived from the benefit of hindsight. We ask the Court, however, to try to understand the situation the Hands found themselves after the beloved Guardian’s passing.
[TC:] Objection,your honor. The defense’s characterization of Shoghi Effendi as “the beloved Guardian” implies there is only one.
[LG:] Sustained. Please go on.
[CW:] What I was saying is that after the first Guardian passed away, the Hands were in a very difficult position. They did not have the benefit of hindsight as this Court now has. The Hands were in the thick of it. The defendants suggest to this Court that they acted reasonably under the circumstances and that they did not violate the Covenant. Rather, they were merely mistaken.
[Justice Townshend:] You are trying to tell this Court that the evidence shows they were only mistaken? What about all of the evidence of Mason Remey’s efforts to explain that to them? How can they say they did not know?
[CW:] Of course, I am not suggesting the defendants were unaware of Mr. Remey’s arguments. I am saying at the time they were acting reasonably. The Bahá’í world was in the middle of “The Ten Year Global Crusade,” and they took seriously their role as the Chief Stewards. They were completing the 10 year plan in accordance with Shoghi Effendi’s wishes, the best they could anyway. Their plan was to have the Bahá’ís elect the Universal House of Justice, because they knew they did not have the authority to make any decisions after that. Once the Guardian’s plan was completed, they understood the need for an infallible decision-maker.
[Justice Townshend:] Stop right there. I am having serious trouble with this line of reasoning. How can their Universal House of Justice be an infallible decision-maker? It wasn’t a Divine Institution.
[CW:] The Universal House of Justice was established by Bahá’u’lláh and the Hands brought about the election of that Body.
[Justice Townshend:] I beg to differ. Shoghi Effendi had already created that Divine Institution. With no Guardian at its head, your organization, whatever it was– it was not the Universal House of Justice.
[CW:] The Hands believed there was no way to appoint a Guardian. Since this was an issue that was not addressed in the Holy Text, it was up to the UHJ to legislate on this issue, and they did legislate and made their finding that there was no way for Shoghi to appoint a Guardian and therefore the Universal House of Justice had to operate without a Guardian just as the Guardian had operated without a UHJ as….
[Justice Baker interrupting:] Just a moment here. You expect this Court to believe that the Hands had the authority to simply create an institution of their own design, call it the Universal House of Justice, and then invest it with the authority to interpret the Writings?
[CW:] No, the UHJ has no power to interpret, but only to legislate.
[Justice Baker:] And according to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and I quote, “It enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text.” Your finding that Shoghi Effendi could not appoint his successor in accordance with the Will and Testament is not an ordinance or regulation. Is it not an interpretation? How can you call that legislation?
[CW:] The Writings were silent on the question of how to appoint a successor to Shoghi Effendi, and the House of Justice needed to legislate.
[Justice Baker angrily interrupting:] You are insulting the intelligence of these justices. This is not acceptable. An interpretation amounts to an explanation of what something means. To legislate is to pass laws. Shoghi Effendi carefully explained the distinction. [Picking up her glasses and beginning to read:] This is from The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh: “Nor is this Order identified with the name of Bahá’u’lláh to be confused with any system of purely aristocratic government in view of the fact that it upholds, on the one hand, the hereditary principle and entrusts the Guardian of the Faith with the obligation of interpreting its teachings, and provides, on the other, for the free and direct election from among the mass of the faithful of the body that constitutes its highest legislative organ.” Now my understanding of this passage is that the appointed Guardians are to keep the organization faithful to the Holy Texts by infallibly interpreting the Writings and applying them to the questions of the day. The people elect members of the Universal House of Justice to decide on issues that Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá have left to the people. Whatever subject or issue that is not addressed in the Holy Texts is for the people to decide, or at least those who were elected by the people. But you are trying to turn this on its head. Your UHJ was explaining its version of the meaning of the Will and Testament. That is interpretation and you have already admitted they had no power to interpret anything.
[CW:] Nevertheless, the Hands believed this at the time. It seemed like a reasonable course of action. The UHJ ruled that Shoghi Effendi could not and did not appoint a successor because there was no one qualified to appoint, based on their belief that the Guardian must be a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh.
[Justice Wilhelm:] So they were interpreting the word “branch” as it appears in the Will and Testament?
[CW:] This is not an interpretation. The word “Branch” refers to a member of the Holy Family.
[Justice Wilhelm:] That IS an interpretation. You are interpreting it now; you are telling me what the word means. Or are you legislating? [Laughter in the courtroom]
[CW:] All Bahá’ís had known that the word “Branch” described the descendants of Bahá’u’lláh. There was nobody left for Shoghi to appoint, and thus the Guardianship became inoperative, or so they thought. The Hands were relying upon the UHJ.
[Justice Wilhelm:] How were the Hands relying upon the UHJ?. Their UHJ was not created until 1963. The Hands made their decision that the Guardianship was Badah in 1957.
[CW:] I cannot deny that the Hands did take that vote. However, they knew this decision must be made by the UHJ. That is why they did not announce their decision to the Bahá’í World, but instead worked to elect the UHJ in 1963.
[Justice Baker:] This is a circular argument. The Hands make a decision on this question, but knowing they have no authority to make such a decision, they proceed to create a body, in a manner of their own choosing, so that they could pose the question to this illegitimate body. What do you suppose would have happened if this UHJ had decided that Mason Remey was the Guardian and the IBC was the true UHJ?
[CW:] Then I suppose we would not be in this courtroom today. [Laughter in the courtroom]
[Justice Baker:] Or perhaps the Hands would have declared the members of their own UHJ as Covenant-breakers and proceeded to carry out the election of a new one until they obtained the answer they were looking for.
[Justice Townshend:] Let’s get back to this question of the “Branch.” You say the Bahá’ís all knew this meant a member of the Holy Family. Of course, that too is a circular argument. You say that the Bahá’ís all knew that, so therefore no interpretation was necessary. But not everyone knew that. So isn’t that what a Guardian is for?
[CW:] Yes, but we submit to you that it was not open to interpretation. `Abdu’l-Bahá made it clear that a “Branch” was to be appointed.
[Justice Townshend:] Now, I have searched the Bahá’í Writings to see how the word “Branch,” is used when referring to Bahá’u’lláh’s family. In Bahá’í World Faith on page 394, the Master refers to Himself as a “Branch.” Of course, Bahá’u’lláh refers to the Master as the “Greatest Branch” in several Tablets. I can cite you a number of references in which Bahá’u’lláh refers to His sons as Branches. Shoghi Effendi, too, uses the word “Branch” to describe Bahá’u’lláh’s sons and in his English translation of these writings, the word “Branch” is capitalized. But there are literally hundreds of uses of the word “branch” in the sacred Writings and in the English translations, where the word “branch” is not capitalized. The use of the word “branch” is often used, within the context of many phrases, to refer to humanity, such as the leaves and branches of humanity. For example, there is this quote from the Master: “The contingent beings are the branches of the tree of life while the Messenger of God is the root of that tree. The branches, leaves and fruit are dependent for their existence upon the root of the tree of life.” That is from Bahá’í World Faith, page 364. In “The Master’s Last Tablet to America” He says, and I quote: “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” He goes on to say: “The brothers of the Blessed Beauty detached themselves from Him, and the Blessed Beauty never met them. He said: ‘This is an eternal separation between you and Me.’ All this was not because the Blessed Beauty was despotic; but because these persons, through their own actions and words deprived themselves from the bounties and bestowals of the Blessed Beauty.” It seems to me that `Abdu’l-Bahá is addressing this very issue. How do you reconcile this?
[CW:] I am not certain I am following, or understanding your question.
[Justice Townshend:] I agree that this entire question appears to be about as clear as mud to most, if not all of the believers, and I think that’s my point exactly. [Laughter in courtroom] You are telling me that everybody knows the answer, but obviously no one knows anything. [Laughter again]
[CW:] The Master, in His Will and Testament, uses the word “branch” when He states that if the Guardian’s lineage is not spiritual, then he must “choose another branch to succeed him”
[Justice Townshend:] Yes, yes. And in the English translation of that passage the lower case “b” is used in the word “branch.”
[CW:] But capitalization does not exist in the original language of Farsi.
[Justice Townshend:] I understand that, but it was Shoghi Effendi who made the translation of the Will and Testament. He undoubtedly purposely used a lower case “b.”
[CW:] I do not think that this amounted to a clear statement of interpretation. The defendants could not have known.
[Justice Townshend interrupting:] I am not saying that. What I am saying is that in Shoghi Effendi’s interpretations and translations, when the word “branch” has been used with reference to a lineage of persons, not involving the Sons of Baha’u’llah, he has invariably used a lower case “b,” but when he has referred to Bahá’u’lláh’s Sons, he has used the upper case. Furthermore, I have not found any place in the Writings where male members of the Holy Family have been referred to as “Branches,” (spelled with a capital “B”) with the exception of Bahá’u’lláh’s Sons. The reason this is important is that `Abdu’l-Bahá does not state that the Guardians must be an Aghsán. Indeed, He knew there were no Aghsán remaining loyal and obedient. It was for that reason he turned to Shoghi Effendi. The Master does say the Guardian should choose from his lineage, provided the requisite spiritual criteria are met. But it is not an absolute requirement. It explicitly says another “branch” can be appointed. That is, another male believer whom the Guardian feels is worthy, and, as we believe that the Guardian is divinely guided in the choice of his successor, fidelity to the Covenant requires nothing less than unquestioned acceptance of and complete loyalty to his chosen successor.
[CW:] Your honor, that is now apparent. It was not at the time.
[Justice Townshend:] But did not Mason Remey fully explain this to them? They were not listening.
[LG:] I do not consider that the prolongation of this discussion is necessary or productive. Please conclude your remarks.
[CW:] Thank you, your honor. The detailed legal discussion and analysis in this trial underscores the dilemma the Hands faced following the passing of the first Guardian. Even Mason Remey was not aware at first of his appointment. For the Hands to have figured out that Mason Remey was the Guardian would have required them to undergo a reexamination of the pertinent provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a detailed and careful review of Shoghi Effendi’s writings, acts, and pronouncements. It was not obvious. Therefore, it is considered unjust for this Court to hold them to a standard so high. Rather, the Court should consider their actions in light of the confusion and emotions prevailing at the time and find that the defendants at all times acted in good faith, reasonably, and with the best interests of the Faith at heart, and that only they were mistaken in the course of the conduct they pursued. Thank you.
[LG:] Thank you, Mr Wolcott. Mr. Chase, do you have anything else to add?
[TC:] Your honor, Mr. Wolcott is blaming the confusion and lack of understanding at the time, for the action of the Hands and I have no doubt that they were factors. The question is whether or not that they were legitimate justification for the actions taken by the Hands. We should bear in mind that the Hands had been elevated to high spiritual rank by the first Guardian. They were, in essence, the spiritual leaders of the community– they could be thought of as a replacement for clergy in this religion. Accordingly, they should never have wavered in their faith in the Covenant and in the certainty that Shoghi Effendi had remained completely faithful to the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá whose provisions, he had declared to be a part of the explicit Holy Text and consequently immutable. Therefore, he would have unquestionably appointed his successor but had done so in a manner that had not been anticipated or discerned at the time, which they would have inevitably discovered had they performed the proper research.
[LG:] Yes, of course. What is your point?
[TC:] My point is that the actions of the Hands violated a number of the basic verities of the Bahá’í Faith, as outlined by Shoghi Effendi in the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, his spiritual testament. As Hands of the Cause, these defendants were aware of these verities and they certainly cannot claim now that they were not aware of them.
[CW:] Objection, your honor. Mr. Chase seems to be testifying now and casting aspersions. We are talking about specific charges against the Hands. Now he is talking about verities. What verities is he referring to?
[LG:] I think we should indulge him for a moment. Please go on. Let’s discuss the verities of the Cause that the defendants may have violated. You will have a chance to respond.
[TC:] Thank, you. As you know, Shoghi Effendi attempted to outline the verities of the Cause in this document. Shoghi Effendi says at the beginning of the document: “My chief concern at this challenging period of Bahá’í history is rather to call the attention of those who are destined to be the champion-builders of the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh to certain fundamental verities the elucidation of which must tremendously assist them in the effective prosecution of their mighty enterprise. ”
[LG:] Alright. Go on. What verities are you talking about?
[TC:] In the third paragraph of the Dispensation, he says that the Will and Testament is a vital link that will forever connect the Heroic Age to the later stages or ages. In other words, he is saying the Will and Testament is to be effective through to the Golden Age. The Hands and their false UHJ say that the Will was inoperative. At paragraph 93, he says that the Will and Testament was the perpetual, indissoluble link between the three ages, which are the Heroic, Formative and Golden Age of the Cause. Shoghi Effendi could not be clearer that the Will and Testament was immortal.
[CW:] Your honor, I object. He is twisting the words of Shoghi Effendi. There is no evidence that Shoghi Effendi knew what was to occur. He wrote that in 1934.
[LG:] Overruled. Go on.
[TC:] At paragraph 94, the first Guardian says the Will is the “Charter of the New World Order” and identifies it with the “glory and promise” of the Bahá’í Dispensation. It is not something that can be disregarded. He goes on to say in that paragraph that the Will and Testament cannot be divorced from Bahá’u’lláh. In other words that it is undeniably Bahá’u’lláh’s Will, as well.
[CW:] Objection. He does not use those words. He does not say it was Bahá’u’lláh’s Will.
[LG:] Overruled. Please, go on.
[TC:] Thank you. Paragraph 103, the Twin Pillars, meaning the Guardianship and the House of Justice are divine in origin. They are not manmade. Further, these Twin Pillars must insure the continuity of the Guardianship.
[CW:] [Exasperated] Your honor! It doesn’t say that.
[TC:] And I quote: “Their common, their fundamental object is to insure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings.” Clearly, the Twin Pillars exist to carry the divine authority into the future. They are to exist throughout the Dispensation.
[LG:] Overruled. Go on.
[TC:] In the next paragraph, Shoghi Effendi seems to envision the future when he says that if the Guardianship were to be divorced from the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh it would be mutilated, permanently deprived of its hereditary principle.
[CW:] [Interrupting] You see, one of the verities of the Cause is that the Guardianship is hereditary.
[TC:] Your honor, I have the floor. Mr. Wolcott should not interrupt me. Let me point out that Shoghi Effendi uses the words “hereditary principle” meaning the idea or concept of being hereditary. He does not say that the Guardians must be of the same biological family. In that paragraph, Shoghi Effendi goes on to say that without the Guardianship, the Faith’s integrity would be imperiled, its stability gravely endangered, its prestige would suffer, it would lack a multi-generational long and uninterrupted view, and the guidance needed to define the legislative sphere would be lost. All of these, verities of the Cause have been thrown out by the defendants.
[LG:] Anything more?
[TC:] At paragraph 106, your honor, Shoghi Effendi quotes from the Will and Testament, as a verity, that the Faith will remain impregnable and safe through obedience to the Guardian. All of these verities were ignored or subverted by the defendant Hands. That is all.
[LG:] Thank you. Mr. Wolcott. Anything else to add?
[CW:] I would point out that paragraph 106 specifically asserts as a verity that after Shoghi Effendi “will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants.”
[LG:] Thank you. If there is nothing further, this Court will go into a short recess and we will come back to render our verdict.
[Bailiff:] All rise! This honorable Court is in recess.
ACT THREE SCENE 2 THE VERDICT
[LG:] (Reading the verdict of the Court]
This Supreme Court of the Abhá Kingdom renders its verdict. In the name of the Lord, the God of great glory. Verily, Thou art the Potent, the Bountiful. No God is there but Thee, the Mighty, the Gracious.
The Cause of God, the very Mission of Bahá’u’lláh in establishing the Bahá’í Faith, is to establish a Divine System of World Commonwealth–the Kingdom of God upon Earth as it is in Heaven.
In the words of the Master, `Abdu’l-Bahá:
“One of the great events which is to occur in the Day of the manifestation of that incomparable Branch is the hoisting of the Standard of God among all nations. By this is meant that all nations and kindreds will be gathered together under the shadow of this Divine Banner, which is no other than the Lordly Branch itself, and will become a single nation. Religious and sectarian antagonism, the hostility of races and peoples, and differences among nations, will be eliminated. All men will adhere to one religion, will have one common faith, will be blended into one race and become a single people. All will dwell in one common fatherland, which is the planet itself.”
The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh’s government over the planet is to rise from out of the chaos and distress of world events caused by humanity’s rejection of the Message of this Most Great Cause of God. The peoples of the world must choose the Order of Bahá’u’lláh as the obvious and clear choice for ordering world affairs after all other solutions have been tried and failed by a distressed humanity.
The first Guardian of the Cause, Shoghi Effendi, in his clear and explicit interpretation of the Holy Texts, binding upon all, had the following to say about the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá:
“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 the 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 and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. 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-Bahá can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it. Bahá’u’lláh’s inscrutable purpose, we must ever bear in mind, has been so thoroughly infused into the conduct of `Abdu’l-Bahá, and their motives have been so closely wedded together, that the mere attempt to dissociate the teachings of the former from any system which the ideal Exemplar of those same teachings has established would amount to a repudiation of one of the most sacred and basic truths of the Faith.”
The defendant Hands in fact did repudiate this most sacred and basic truth of the Faith, in their attempt to alter, or to ignore, the basic tenets of the Will and Testament, and to arrogantly assume that any of its provisions could be rendered inoperable or ineffective. The Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bahá and the Most Holy Book of Bahá’u’lláh-the Kitáb-i-Aqdas- should be considered, in the words of Shoghi Effendi as “complementary” and to “mutually confirm one another” and must be regarded as “inseparable parts of one complete unit.” Therefore, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament is a part of the explicit Holy Text whose immutable and immortal laws and provisions are destined to remain unaltered and inviolate for at least a full thousand years.
This Court finds that the so-called Universal House of Justice elected in 1963 at the instigation of the defendant Hands is completely illegitimate. It simply is not the House of Justice called for by the Will and Testament. The rise of this illicitly formed UHJ has prolonged the suffering of humanity by offering up a false promise as the pattern for world society, even while it remains a fallible and human institution in the absence of the Guardian at its ” sacred head.”
The illicitly established UHJ is therefore an abomination. [Pause during commotion in the Courtroom, and then repeating] This false UHJ is therefore an abomination. To offer support and assistance to this imposter itself constitutes a betrayal of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, and a heinous crime against humanity.
The defendant Hands created this humanly conceived headless UHJ without any authority whatsoever and attempted to clothe themselves with authority to do so by declaring, in effect, a collective successorship to the powers and rights of the Guardianship. Their pretense, that they were merely carrying out the wishes of the first Guardian until such time as this patently false UHJ could absorb and assume authority as an illicitly substituted “Center of the Cause,” was inadequate to mask the perfidiousness of their behavior.
How misguided and woefully tragic was the program carried out by the defendant Hands in their subversion of the Cause of God by substituting themselves, the illicit body of the Custodians, and their sans-Guardian UHJ for the true Universal House of Justice established in its embryonic form by Shoghi Effendi as the International Bahá’í Council. The Hands staged an inexcusable coup, removing and excommunicating the Guardian and those few believers firm in the Covenant who had remained steadfast in their obedience to him. The defendant Hands subverted and destroyed the true Universal House of Justice and the Institution of the Guardianship, the Twin Pillars of the divinely-conceived Bahá’í Administrative Order, delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and replaced them with false institutions of their own making.
`Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of the Covenant, states in His Will and Testament: “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 members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsán, the Afnán, 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, will make a breach in the Cause of God, will subvert His Word and will become a manifestation of the Center of Sedition”
In these words He expressed a clear warning and admonition to all, that the Covenant was not to be subverted by anyone at all, including specifically the Hands of the Cause of God.
The defendant Hands have further mustered up the audacity to put forth before this Court the circular argument that their reliance upon the judgments and edicts of this false institution calling itself the Universal House of Justice somehow justified or excused their clear violation.
This Court finds otherwise. This Court finds that the second Guardian, Mason Remey, during a period of years extending from the date of Shoghi Effendi’s death until the formation of the illicitly established UHJ, brilliantly and patiently fulfilled his duty in forcefully and clearly presenting conclusive arguments to the Hands as to why their plan to elect a sans-Guardian and hence illegitimate UHJ constituted a subversion of the Cause of God. The Court further finds that Mason Remey’s recording of events in his Daily Observations, and his appeals and proclamations, have not been refuted, and thus do the defendant Hands stand condemned thereby. The Hands expelled the Guardian and disbanded the only faithful National Spiritual Assembly–that is the NSA of France–with no authority whatsoever to do so. The actions by the Hands were fully informed, and constituted a deliberate and intentional defiance and betrayal of the “Center of the Cause,” the consequences for which the defendant Hands are and shall remain responsible, to their everlasting shame.
This Court further finds that the Persian Hands were the instigators of this satanic conspiracy to abandon the Guardianship and to perpetrate the Greatest Violation of the Covenant in the history of the Faith. Their arrogance and prejudice lead them to reject Mason Remey as being unqualified to lead them, and thereby they rejected Shoghi Effendi’s authority to choose his successor. Rúhíyyih Khánum played an integral role in advancing the ill-conceived and reprehensible plot hatched by the Persian Hands to put an end to the Guardianship and gain its endorsement by all but one of the remaining Hands. She would have this Court excuse her behavior on the basis that she was blinded by her love for Shoghi Effendi. While this Court has no reason to doubt her love for Shoghi Effendi, we find this an unacceptable excuse. While this love no doubt played a role in her decision, the motives suggested in Mason Remey’s diaries, and her apparent pursuit of personal power and privilege belies her innocence and underscores the fact that she apparently justified, in her own mind, her outright betrayal of Shoghi Effendi and the Cause of God, because of a blind love for him that did not permit her to accept anyone as his successor. As for the remaining defendant Hands, the Court finds that, on the basis of the ample evidence presented before this Court today, all of the defendant Hands have been culpable of participating in a conspiracy to commit an egregious violation of the Covenant, and that each and every one of them collaborated in the further advancement of that conspiracy to its fateful and tragic conclusion.
Therefore, it is the finding of this Court that each and every one of the defendant Hands standing before this Court are inexcusably GUILTY of the crimes alleged against them. [bringing down gavel] [the Courtroom erupts into crying, talking and shouting and the scene fades as Chief Judge Gregory keeps banging his gavel and seeking order]
ACT THREE, Scene 3 The Apology
[Scene opens in the parlor of the celestial residence of Shoghi Effendi. The Defendants are all gathered in the room waiting for an audience with Shoghi Effendi]
[RK pointing her finger towards the Persian Hands:] This is all your fault. I cannot believe you got me into this. Now I have to face Shoghi and apologize to him. How humiliating this is. How shameful.
[Ali Akbar Furutan:] I don’t see why you are blaming us. You were with us the whole time. It seems to me the reason why the Court sentenced us to make this apology is for us to finally accept responsibility for our actions–for our complete failure as Hands of the Cause.
[RK:] You! You were the one [pointing to Dr Mohajer] with that Badah nonsense. How was I supposed to know anything about Badah. You got us into this.
[Dr. Rahmatu’llah Mohajer:] You know as well as I do that Badah was just an excuse. If we had not come up with that explanation, we would have come up with something else. Wasn’t it you who said that we were the Chief Stewards and therefore had the power to take charge of the Faith?
[RK angrily, crying:] You didn’t argue with me, did you? None of you did. And now I am the one who has to face Shoghi Effendi.
[Mr. Furutan:] All of us have to face him. This is not easy for any of us.
[Shouting and argument erupts between the Hands]
[Zikrullah Khadem:] I don’t think bickering about this is going to solve anything. What are we going to say to him?
[Shouting and arguments continue]
[William Sears:] I agree. Somebody has to take charge of this. Let’s have order. Order please. Be quiet. Order!
[RK:] And who put Bill Sears in charge?
[Mr. Sears:] Who put you in charge? That’s been the problem all along. We have been taking our orders from you, and now look where this has led us. I am going to lead this group right now. Anybody have a problem with that?
[Mr. Sears:] Fine. Mr. Khadem, please speak, you have the floor.
[Mr. Khadem:] As I was saying, we need to figure out what we are going to say. We have no excuse. We have been found guilty. It is an inescapable fact. We are guilty of violation of the Covenant. We have betrayed Shoghi Effendi. We threw Mason Remey out of the Faith, and his followers too! We labeled them Covenant-breakers. May God have mercy on our souls. We misled so many!
[Shouting and argument erupts]
[Mr. Sears:] Order, please. We must become unified. I think Mr. Khadem is right. We need to face up to this and figure out where we go from here. Yes, Mr. Furutan.
[Mr. Furutan:] Yes, I think we need to do some soul-searching. We have committed horrific crimes. If only we had allowed the IBC to function as the beloved Guardian had intended. If only we had recognized Mason Remey. I cannot imagine how much progress would have been made in the Faith. We were so arrogant to believe that we knew better. Think of all those sincere believers who listened to us and were led astray from the Covenant. Think of the misery and suffering caused. Imagine our arrogance in excommunicating those few believers who were spiritual enough to perceive our error. They were faithful in the face of overwhelming opposition and we led that opposition. It’s horrifying!
[Mr. Sears:] Yes, Dr. Mohajer.
[Dr. Mohajer:] How do you think I feel? I will go down in history as the one who declared the end of the Guardianship. What shame! It is torture.
[Mr Sears:] All of us share your shame, Dr. Mohajer. You gave voice to what all of us were doing. You have no more responsibility than any of us. Yes, Mr. Olinga
[Enoch Olinga:] Thank you, Mr. Sears. I would like to add to what Mr. Furutan was saying. I believe the essential problem, our essential failing was a spiritual…..
[Mason Remey- coming out of Shoghi Effendi’s room:] Excuse me for interrupting. I just wanted to let you know that Shoghi Effendi is not yet here at his residence. We are still waiting for him to arrive home. It will be just a few more minutes.
[Mr. Sears:] Mr Remey, thank you. May we have a word with you for a moment?
[Mr. Sears:] Let me say on behalf of all of us, how sorry we are for what we put you through. Words really cannot express our sorrow. How guilty we feel. We wish we could wind back time and serve you as the second Guardian. What fools we were.
[Voices of many of the Hands in agreement]
[MR:] Mr. Sears, I certainly appreciate that, and I accept your apologies. But you really need to reserve your expressions of regret for Shoghi Effendi. What you destroyed was everything that he had labored so tirelessly to create during the 36 years of his ministry. Indeed, you have much to say to him.!
[The Hands sit in stunned silence]
[Mr. Sears after a few moments in a quiet voice:] Well Mason is right, of course. We have betrayed Shoghi Effendi. Yes, Rúhíyyih?
[RK:] I see now that my love for Shoghi was no excuse to reject Mason. I was being selfish. I guess I loved being the wife of the Guardian more than anything else. Following his passing, I was afraid that my prestige and power would be diminished. How foolish. I gave up everything for such petty reasons. How could I have been so stupid? Now I must somehow explain to Shoghi why I endorsed the decision to end the Guardianship and took a leading role in persuading the vast majority of the Bahá’ís to accede to the dismantlement and destruction of the Divinely appointed Institutions he worked all of us life to faithfully establish in complete accordance with the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá [bursting into tears]
[Corinne True:] Oh dear, we must certainly understand that the Faith will triumph in the end and the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and His Cause will be victorious.
[RK:] How can you be so sure?
[Mr. Olinga:] Ms. True is correct. We continue to be so arrogant as to believe that our actions have destroyed the Divine Institutions of the Faith. It was never within our power to destroy God’s Cause. Yes, we caused a setback. Yes, we led many astray! We caused much damage and suffering. But it was never within our power to stop the ultimate progress of the Faith! That is the lesson we must learn from this.
[Mr. Sears:] Mr Olinga. I think you are on to something here. Please go on.
[Mr. Olinga:] Covenant-breaking is a spiritual disease. It stems from faithlessness. And we were the Covenant-breakers. Don’t you see? We found it so useful to employ the accusation of Covenant- breaking to destroy those who opposed us and consolidate our power; we lost sight of the fact that it is something very real. It truly is a disease and we caught it. We actually lost our faith in the Covenant!
[Shouting and commotion breaks out]
[Mr. Sears:] Order please. Of course, he is absolutely correct. We are the ones who have just been found guilty of Covenant-breaking. It is time for us to face up to this fact and accept it.
[Mr. Olinga:] Covenant-breakers don’t believe the promises in the Holy Texts. They give lip service to the Faith, but they don’t really believe it. They have their own personal reasons for rejecting some aspect of the Teachings, and they follow their own interpretations. That is why Bahá’u’lláh established His Covenant: so that our limited or false interpretations would not get in the way of the Divine Truth. The Guardianship, as established by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His Will and Testament, protects the Faith from believers who have become just like us; believers who have little faith and who try to change the Faith in a manner that suits them,
[Ms True, excited:] Exactly! We cannot change the Faith. We exceeded our station. We thought we knew better what was to be done and we substituted our own judgments for God’s Will. We were arrogant fools, and now we must pay the price. The Cause of God belongs to God. It cannot be changed by humanity. The Administrative Order comes from God, and our duty is to follow it and obey it, and not to change it according to our own whims. That is the lesson to be learned from this great violation for generations to come.
[Mr. Sears:] Yes! The lesson learned is to be faithful and true to the Cause and to the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh no matter what. We must…..
[MR interrupting:] Excuse me. Shoghi Effendi will see you now.
[The Hands sadly and slowly walk out of the parlor and into Shoghi Effendi’s room as the scene fades out]
— The Erring Hands on Trial
THE HANDS OF THE CAUSE AND “THE CHICAGO MANIFESTO
At the close of Volume Two of Mason Remey’s “Daily Observations,” he placed a statement in which he recapitulated what he observed in Haifa in the years immediately following the death of Shoghi Effendi. One event that he refers to is the development of a document by the American Hands of the Faith and the NSA of the United States which was called “A New Bahá’í Era,” but which gained so much notoriety that it came to be known as “The Chicago Manifesto.”
I think that it is absolutely vital for those who identify themselves as “Bahá’ís not only to be aware of what Mason Remey discloses about this event but to see that what has been reproduced in The Ministry of the Custodians relating to “A New Bahá’í Era” verifies what Mason Remey wrote. Furthermore, because “A New Bahá’í Era” had within it so many of the beliefs of current heterodox “Bahá’ís, I think it is imperative that everyone knows exactly what that document said and then answer this pivotal question: If the positions established in ‘A New Bahá’í Era’ are now the accepted teachings of the organization under the sans-Guardian UHJ–as they are–why were the Hands of the Faith so “distressed” (as they themselves stated) about what the “New Era” document said?
Is the explanation really that which the Hands in the Holy Land claimed in the messages that they sent and which are recorded in The Ministry of the Custodians? Or is the explanation what Mason Remey provided in his “Daily Observations”?
Submitted to the reader herein are the following: 1) What Mason Remey included in Volume Two of his “Daily Observations” regarding the situation that centers on “A New Bahá’í Era,” 2) What The Ministry of the Custodians provides about the situation, 3) A copy of the document “A New Bahá’í Era”, which I surmise most people have never read, and 4) Some personal comments and questions regarding the Hands and “The Chicago Manifesto.”
1. MASON REMEY’S PERSPECTIVE:
His Statement at the close of Volume Two of “Daily Obseervations”:
“…in America, led by Horace Holley, a Manifesto from Chicago was issued that was signed by Holley, Paul Haney, and Mrs. True, entitled ‘A New Bahá’í Era’. It spoke of the Faith, Sans Guardian, and explained that the Guardianship was a closed subject.
“This Chicago Manifesto stirred up a good deal of discussion amongst the Hands in the Holy Land, who, although thoroughly in sympathy with the substance of this Manifesto (this they specifically wrote to Holley), called him down for thus making a stand that publicly proclaimed the Sans Guardian doctrine. Thus were these Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land playing a double-faced game; for they, by avoiding the subject, were thus conditioning the believers, if it were possible, to forget about the Guardianship. Thus did they intend to reinforce themselves in their own leadership of the Faith and in their plans for creating a House of Justice in 1963–a House they claimed would be infallible Sans Guardian!
“In order to put over onto the Bahá’í world the plans of these Custodian Hands of the Faith, they had decided in the first conclave that all of their actions should be kept a secret from the proletariat of the Cause. In the Chicago Manifesto, those American Hands who signed it broke the pact of secrecy when they consulted with the N.S.A. of the United States. All nine members of this N.S.A. approved; and together with the three American Hands, they signed the Manifesto.”
What Mason Remey wrote on pages four and five of Volume Two:
“R”h”yyih Kh”num went down to Kampala for the 1958 conference there as planned by the Guardian and there at one of the meetings she announced that the Guardianship was Bada and ended. Then later in a meeting of the Hands here in Haifa she explained herself, saying that she spoke on the spur of the moment and without thought and should not have announced this. This slip of the tongue proved to me her inner conviction and thought, for those who speak without thinking always say what they really think.
“Through R”h”yyih Kh”num’s slip of the tongue [was the end of the Guardianship announced] – and possibly and even probably that of others of the Hands of the Cause – the Hands in America. Horace Holley and Paul Haney met with the American N.S.A. in Chicago and they issued a Manifesto that was circulated to a certain extent announcing definitely that the Guardianship was ended for this Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. A copy of this got to Germany in some way and from there a copy was sent to Haifa, together with the word that this was soon to be sent out in printed form from the N.S.A. of the U.S.A. This was not sent here to us in Haifa. This, to R”h”yyih Kh”num and others was an unwise move and was a great shock to them, and a cablegram was sent immediately to Horace saying not to circulate this document (it was already being set up in type) – thus at this eleventh hour this was thus forestalled. However, the cat was out of the bag, for the believers in some places and countries were upset and protesting. In our meeting here of the Hands it was even suggested that any people in opposition in their views to those of the Hands in Haifa be expelled from the Faith without ado, but on reconsideration it was decided to ignore these voices from abroad. In one instance in Latin America some friends who questioned this matter had their voting rights taken from them because of this stand.”
2. FROM THE MINISTRY OF THE CUSTODIANS
On page 60 of Ministry is a cablegram of the “HANDSFAITH” to the American Hands and N.S.A. of the U.S. dated February 3, 1958, a portion of which is cited here:
CUSTODIANS SERIOUSLY DISTURBED STATEMENT A NEW BAH”‘” ERA ISSUED AMERICAN HANDS NSA INTERPRETING ADDING BAHJI PROCLAMATION CONSIDER THIS GRAVE DANGER UNITY FAITH URGE DELETE ALL REFERENCE DOOR APPOINTMENT SECOND GUARDIAN CLOSED RIGHT NINE EXPEL COVENANT BREAKERS STOP STATEMENTS THIS NATURE CAN BE MADE ONLY ENTIRE BODY HANDS AS CHIEF STEWARDS AND NOT BY ANY NSA OR GROUP HANDS STOP THIS STATEMENT NOT YET RECEIVED BY CUSTODIANS BUT EXCERPTS FORWARDED HERE WITH PROTESTS STOP
On the next page is the response written by Horace Holley as Secretary of the N.S.A. and dated February 4, 1958. Only the opening paragraph of the three-paragraph message is provided here:
“In accordance with your urgent request, steps are being taken to delete from our statement ‘A New Bahá’í Era’ the reference to the door being closed to any hope for a future second Guardian, and the passage attributing to your body the authority to expel Covenant-breakers from the Faith.”
On page 64 is reproduced the cablegram of the “HANDSFAITH” to “HANDS CARE BAH”I WILMETTE” on February 16, 1958. It reads:
AFTER READING STATEMENT A NEW ERA CUSTODIANS VERY DISTRESSED DETAILED INTERPRETATION BAHJI ELABORATION PROCLAMATION HANDS MAKING STATEMENTS WE FEEL ONLY ENTIRE BODY CHIEF STEWARDS SHOULD ISSUE STOP URGE DO NOT PRINT AND CIRCULATE THIS STATEMENT FURTHER BUT UNOBTRUSIVELY LET MATTER DROP STOP LOVE FROM ALL. HANDSFAITH
On February 17, 1958, the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land wrote a follow-up letter to the Members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the “Bahá’ís of the United States, excerpts of which follow:
“The letter from the Hand of the Cause Horace Holley dated February 4th with copy of the statement you issued entitled “A New Bahá’í Era” was received, and after studying it very carefully we wish to share our views with you regarding it, and explain to you the reasons which prompted our recent cable requesting that certain points be deleted from it.”
They then say they had not directly received any copy of the statement but had received “excerpts forwarded here by some of the Hands of the Cause in Europe who were very distressed over the repercussions it might have, and indeed was already having, on the believers there.”
The Hands in the Holy Land then tell of their own distress: “Dear friends, the nine Hands of the Faith serving here at the World Centre have been very distressed that a statement of this magnitude, interpreting as it does the Proclamation made by the twenty-seven Hands of the Faith when they gathered in Bahji after the ascension of the beloved Guardian…should have been issued without consultation with either the Custodians or the body of the Hands of the Cause who are dispersed all over the world.”
They then establish their basic concern to be the necessity of “preserving the world character of the Cause of God, and this can obviously only be done from the International Centre of the Faith…” They state that “a continental interpretation of events” precipitates dangers to the Cause, and then they write: “We have just cabled you, asking you, without making any undue fuss or attracting attention to the fact that you are doing so, to quietly divert attention, so to speak, from this statement which has been recently issued. If no further emphasis is given to it and the believers are encouraged to concentrate their full forces on making the forthcoming Intercontinental Conference in Chicago a tremendous success, which will be in itself a worthy American memorial to our dearly beloved Shoghi Effendi, we feel that no serious harm will have been done.”
On pages 66 and 67 of The Ministry of the Custodians is reproduced the letter from the Hands in the Holy Land to Hand of the Cause, Horace Holley, dated March 10, 1958. Again, the ostensible reason for the concern of the Custodians is provided:
“…the Custodians have been made very conscious of the necessity to strive for unity in the approach to fundamental matters affecting the structure and future development of the Cause. The Custodians from East and West are aware of the wisdom of avoiding statements or points of view on basic issues which cannot be accepted equally by East and West, and indeed by all of the Bahá’í world, especially in this period, so soon after the ascension of the beloved Guardian, when we are still unable to grasp the full implications of the present situation.”
A follow-up paragraph begins: “You will now, we feel sure, understand our delicate position and the reasons why we felt it necessary to urge that the statement “A New Bahá’í Era” be withdrawn from circulation.”
On March 21, 1958, the Hands in the Holy Land wrote the other Hands, and emphasis was placed on the necessity for the Holy Land being the focal Centre of Unity, saying:
“…the only possible way the work of this holy Faith, which our beloved Guardian inspired, organized and brought to such a high level, can be maintained and further consolidated, is by focusing both the consciousness of the believers and the work of the Cause of God upon its World Spiritual and Administrative Centre. The strength of a wheel and its power to roll forward are entirely dependent upon the hub, and the solidity of the spokes united in the hub. We have come to see that the supreme work of the Hands–all twenty-seven of them–is to maintain this focal Centre of Unity in the Holy Land at this dangerous time the Faith is passing through.” (Ministry, p. 68)
Later in the letter reference to the Chicago Manifesto is made: “From a recently issued statement of the America Hands and National Spiritual Assembly, from letters received regarding remarks made by some of the Asiatic and European Hands, it is becoming obvious that in a perfectly natural course of human events, and with no awareness of its perils, there has been a tendency for different interpretations of our present situation and different prognostications of the future to be made. At times such as this in history, when a firmly integrated organism is suddenly deprived of its pivot, there is a strong centrifugal force released, and we believe that the urgent and most sacred duty of the Hands now is to offset this process at all costs.” (Ministry, p. 69)
And still later: “Now with the sudden irreparable loss of our beloved Guardian the Hands are compelled to see the Bahá’í world as a whole, as he always did, to forget regional consciousness (although of course they will continue to watch over the work in their respective areas) , and to think on behalf of Shoghi Effendi of the world needs, world protection, world consolidation of this mighty Faith.” (Ministry, p. 70.)
On June 12, 1958, the Hands in the Holy Land again wrote all the other Hands and singled out one exception to the good news being received in the Holy Land:
“the exception of one question which has weighed very heavily on our minds and hearts and which we wish to share with you.
“You will remember we pointed out that from communications and reports received here it was becoming obvious that there was a tendency for different interpretations of our present situation and prognostications of the future to be made.
“As most of you no doubt are aware, the American Hands issued, in conjunction with the American National Spiritual Assembly, a statement entitled ‘A New Bahá’í Era’ in order to meet the many questions being raised by the believers and to assist them in focusing their attention on the future work of the Crusade. We feel you should know that this statement was read at forty conferences in the United States, and that copies were mailed to all National Spiritual Assemblies who were daughter Assemblies or allies of the America National Spiritual Assembly…” (Ministry, p. 98.)
“We…felt a number of things should never have been said that were included, though by and large, the whole statement is very sound. We therefore cabled requesting that it be withdrawn from circulation and not appear in ‘Bahá’í News’. The American Hands and National Spiritual Assembly immediately complied with this request and have since, in a most loving and understanding manner, expressed their agreement with us. Unfortunately, however, the statement has been widely published in Latin America. We have received letters, because of this statement, and because of the nature of the questions it attempted to answer, from the United States, the Canadian, the Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela and Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay National Spiritual Assemblies, asking the Custodians to state something clearly for the friends on the question so much discussed, namely, the future of the Guardianship.”
Two paragraphs later: “Believing, ourselves, that as we decided in Bahji, the less said on this subject the better, we have until now strictly refrained from going into the subject at all in any communications to Assemblies or individuals sent from Haifa.” (Ministry, p. 99)
On June 12, 1958, the Custodian Hands sent forth a “Statement regarding the Guardianship” to those NSA’s that had written about the issues raised in the Chicago Manifesto. In the Custodians’ statement they compressed two non-adjacent paragraphs from the Manifesto into one, those that begin: “Shoghi Effendi appointed no successor in his own lifetime…” and “Since a successor could only be chosen and designated by Shoghi Effendi…”
They then wrote: “We call upon all the believers, for the sake of preserving the unity of our beloved Faith for which the Bab was martyred, Bahá’u’lláh and the Master imprisoned, and for which the beloved Guardian so completely sacrificed himself, to concentrate on the thoughts expressed in the Proclamation, and to desist from all further speculation on the future development of the institutions of the Faith–speculation which can only give rise to those very differences of interpretation forbidden by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and against which they repeatedly warned us.” (Ministry, pp. 100-101.)
3. THE DOCUMENT A NEW BAH”‘” ERA
“A NEW BAH”‘” ERA”
With the passing of the beloved Guardian, we believers have entered a new era in the history of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. The landscape has changed; in some aspects it is unfamiliar; we pause in temporary confusion until we become accustomed to the new condition and can see its relationship to the eternal verities of the revelation we have accepted with all our hearts.
The American Hands of the Cause and the National Assembly deeply appreciate the need for reorientation in order to reunite the powers of understanding with the power of faith, since the Bahá’í Faith is conscious knowledge and not traditional indoctrination nor blind credulity. Ardor emanates from the unity of our whole being, when there is reconciliation and fusion of will, feeling and knowledge in the mystery of a God-given faith.
As we relate ourselves anew to the Bahá’í Revelation in its successive eras of unfoldment, we are assured that the Martyr-Prophet, the Bab, fulfilled His mission in terminating the prophetic era and inaugurating the era of world religion and world unity. We have full assurance that Bahá’u’lláh manifested the divine Love and Purpose in establishing a Universal Faith, a new Order. We likewise have full assurance that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of His Covenant with mankind, completed the structural pattern of the new Order, united the understanding and devotion of the “Bahá’ís of East and West, revealed the Tablets of the Divine Plan destined to prepare humanity for the Most Great Peace, and conferred upon the “Bahá’ís the unique blessing of the Guardian. The beloved Shoghi Effendi, appointed Guardian, interpreted the Master’s Testament, pointed out the essential purpose of the Revelation, translated basic Bahá’í writings, preserved and developed the Holy Shrines, defined the functions of the Bahá’í institutions, and instituted successive teaching plans culminating in the World Crusade. From 1921 until 1957 Shoghi Effendi stood forth as the world leader of the “Bahá’ís, their inspirer, guide and teacher, their link with the Heroic Age of their Faith. Without Shoghi Effendi, without a successor to the station of Guardianship, without his guidance for the future Universal House of Justice, how are we believers to teach the Cause and fulfill our individual and collective missions?
Here, as all the friends realize, are the vital questions we must answer before we can release our potential energies in service to the Cause of God. The answers are supremely important to our Bahá’í generation, even though if we fail in our mission we know that the Faith of God will raise up new “Bahá’ís to take our place and complete our work.
The American Hands and your National Assembly therefore appeal for most earnest consideration, understanding and acceptance of the following facts and truths.
The Proclamation prepared by the Hands of the Cause assembled in the Mansion of Bahá’u’lláh adopted and promulgated in their capacity of “Chief Stewards of the Embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh,” a station conferred upon the Hands by the Guardian in his last message to the Bahá’í world – a message written only a few weeks before his death. It is known from the physicians’ examination after the Guardian’s passing that his death was not caused by disease but by the complete exhaustion incurred during the unremitting labors of his thirty-six years of sacrifice to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. This particular responsibility was therefore assigned to the Hands in the Guardian’s awareness of his condition in order to create an international Bahá’í authority qualified to act after his own passing. The very phrase, “Chief Stewards of the Embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh,” establishes this fact. Herein lies the foundation for our rational understanding and acceptance of the new Bahá’í era.
As we know, the Proclamation conveyed the determination of the Hands “to carry out every aspect of the Guardian’s wishes and hopes,” thereby defining in these words their function and purpose to be trustees and custodians of Shoghi Effendi’s expressed plans, which laid down the road of Bahá’í progress for years to come.
The Proclamation, likewise, in appointing nine of their number to serve at the World Center, revealed obedience to a definite provision of the Master’s Testament. The work of the nine Hands is clearly explained in the text of the Proclamation, as is the function of the International Bahá’í Council in its evolution to fulfilment in the election of the Universal House of Justice, “the source of all good and freed from all error.”
All claim to capacity of interpretation by the Hands is disavowed in the Proclamation. They will coordinate the activities of the National Assemblies, energize the believers in their services to the World Crusade, receive and act upon reports from the Hands of the Cause located in the several continents, and answer questions by references to the Teachings which throw light upon the particular problem. Finally, (also in accordance with the Master’s Testament) the nine Hands will exercise the authority to expel Covenant-Breakers from the Bahá’í community.
Shoghi Effendi appointed no successor in his own lifetime because he himself had no natural heir and because no member of the Holy Family qualified. The Master’s Testament is the sole authority controlling the appointment of successive Guardians, and its specific provisions were scrupulously upheld by the Guardian in his non-appointment of a second Guardian.
Shoghi Effendi, moreover, could not leave a written will and testament because he possessed no personal estate but held title to the Shrines and the International Fund solely in his capacity as Guardian. The designation of the Hands as Chief Stewards provides a body of trustees capable of serving as custodians but not as successor to the Guardianship.
Since a successor could only be chosen and designated by Shoghi Effendi in his own lifetime, the friends must dismiss all hopeful expectation that a will appointing a second Guardian may later be found. The door to the appointment of a second Guardian, as far as can be determined by reference to the Bahá’í writings, is closed. Neither the Hands of the Cause nor the Universal House of Justice has been endowed with authority for such appointment.
The Universal House of Justice
Shoghi Effendi wrote “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh” in February, 1934. The twenty-three and a half years intervening between that date and the hour of his passing produced a stupendous development in the operation of local and National Assemblies, the station of the Hands of the Cause, and in our knowledge of the laws and principles as well as teachings recorded in the Holy Text. In fact, the Bahá’í World Community received from Shoghi Effendi the guidance and direction needed until 1963 and for years thereafter. The Guardianship continues in terms of Shoghi Effendi’s peerless accomplishments even though the person of the Guardian has been called to a higher world.
No Bahá’í text declares that the House of Justice cannot be elected without a Guardian. The House, as an independent institution, is assured of Divine Guidance in acting upon matters lying within its own special province. More than once Shoghi Effendi declared that he need not attend all sessions of the House of Justice as he would be occupied with his own separate affairs. In the Guardian’s writings the members of the House of Justice possess a body of material uniquely supplementing the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
A New Bahá’í Era
The final question which arises from the grief-stricken hearts of “Bahá’ís is: why should we be deprived of a Guardian? Even though we begin to realize how we can serve and how we can teach, the mystery of this loss still remains. It marks a change in the structural pattern of the Bahá’í World Community which has come about for no human cause or reason.
Here, beloved friends, we must raise our vision to that highest realm, the Will of God, which (as the Guardian pointed out in his letter referring to the Persian persecutions) can intervene in the Bahá’í Plan, apparently disrupt its operation, but in the long run reinforce the Bahá’í Plan. That Realm of Mystery is higher even than the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh; it is whence all the Manifestations are bidden to appear and whence They are inspired and directed.
The passing of the Guardian does not and cannot represent a failure of the Master to perpetuate a faithful Holy Family, nor of Bahá’u’lláh to guide and guard His Faith. It represents no failure of Shoghi Effendi, whose record as Guardian elicits our profoundest admiration and gratitude. We can only behold in this strange event an intervention of God’s Plan and await with certitude a mighty reinforcement of Bahá’í capacity and opportunity, and a great, unexpected spiritual quickening within the peoples of the world.
This is the answer to the why. The year 1957 was a fateful period for the nation and for human survival as well as for all “Bahá’ís.
Understanding is fulfilled in action. We “Bahá’ís are confronted with the greatest challenge our generation of believers has ever encountered. We are called upon to attain true maturity, as when youth becomes manhood with the death of a kind and protective father, and destiny can no longer be met at second hand.
Not only the individual believer but also the local and national Assemblies must become mature, fulfilling their functions as trustees elected by the community and charged with definite responsibilities for the progress of the Faith. Our goal is 1963, the termination and climax of the World Crusade, when the foundations must be prepared for the election of the future House of Justice. That revered body, in consultation with the surviving Hands of the Cause, can determine the future operation of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. We are the bridge between the passing of the Guardian and the formation of the Universal House of Justice. We pray to God that we may be faithful to our sacred trust.
“Lauded be thy Name, O Lord my God! Darkness hath fallen upon every land, and the forces of mischief have encompassed all the nations. Through them, however, I perceive the splendors of Thy wisdom, and discern the brightness of the light of Thy providence.
“They that are shut out as by a veil from Thee have imagined that they have the power to put out Thy light, and to quench Thy fire, and to still the winds of Thy grace. Nay, and to this Thy might beareth me witness! Had not every tribulation been made the bearer of Thy wisdom, and every ordeal the vehicle of Thy providence, no one would have dared oppose us, though the powers of earth and heaven were to be leagued against us. Were I to unravel the wondrous mysteries of Thy wisdom which are laid bare before me, the reins of Thine enemies would be cleft asunder.
“Glorified be Thou, then, O my God! I beseech Thee by Thy most Great Name to assemble them that love Thee around the Law that streameth from the good pleasure of Thy will and to send down upon them what will assure their hearts.
Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou art, verily the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.”
American Hands of the Cause
National Spiritual Assembly
4. In his “Daily Observations” Mason Remey described what happened during the course of the first conclave of the Hands of the Cause in November of 1957. He told how one of the Persian Hands sprang to his feet and proposed that the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha be pronounced as bada and that the Guardianship be ended. He noted that the motion was supported by the Persian Hands and Ruhiyyih Khanum so that the issue was carried by the majority, but, as Mason Remey pointed out “these Hands decided that it would not do at that time to announce to the world their abandoment of the Guardianship since there would be many believers to whom this would be a great shock and disappointment; therefore, it was decided in their Proclamation to the world that no mention was to be made of the word ‘Guardianship’…” So why the subsequent cover-up? Was it really to prevent the believers throughout the world from experiencing shock and disappointment?
Furthermore, what was it within the document “A New Bahá’í Era” that created such concern–not only within the Hands in the Holy Land but in the believers throughout the world? After all, aren’t the statements in that document now accepted by mainstream Bahá’ís as the basic tenets of the changed covenant to which they themselves are loyal?
Yet in a letter of February 17, 1958 here were the Hands in the Holy Land recommending to the American N.S.A. that they should
“quietly divert attention…from this statement.” And in their letter to Horace Holley of March 10, 1958, they refer to “the wisdom of avoiding statements or points of view on basic issues which cannot be accepted equally by East and West, and indeed by all the Bahá’í world”. Or, as they phrase it in their February 17, 1958, letter to the American NSA, “a continental interpretation of events” could precipitate dangers to the Cause. To which statements were they referring? Were they any of the following? that Shoghi Effendi “interpreted the Master’s Testament…defined the functions of the Bahá’í institutions…” “It is known from the physicians’ examination after the Guardian’s passing that his death was not caused by disease…” “This particular responsibility [as ‘Chief Stewards’] was therefore assigned to the Hands in the Guardian’s awareness of his condition in order to create an international Bahá’í authority qualified to act after his own passing.”
“The Proclamation, likewise, in appointing nine of their number to serve at the World Center, revealed obedience to a definite provision of the Master’s Testament.”
“Finally, (also in accordance with the Master’s Testament) the nine Hands will exercise the authority to expel Covenant-Breakers from the Bahá’í community.”
“Shoghi Effendi appointed no successor in his own lifetime …”
“Shoghi Effendi…could not leave a written will and testament because he possessed no personal estate…”
“…the friends must dismiss all hopeful expectation that a will appointing a second Guardian may later be found.”
“Neither the Hands of the Cause nor the Universal House of Justice has been endowed with authority for such appointment.”
“The Guardianship continues in terms of Shoghi Effendi’s peerless accomplishments even though the person of the Guardian has been called to a higher world.”
“We can only behold in this strange event an intervention of God’s Plan…”
“We are the bridge between the passing of the Guardian and the formation of the Universal House of Justice.”
What the Hands in the Holy Land singled out in their cablegram of February 3, 1958 to the American Hands and the American N.S.A, calling for their deletion, were the “REFERENCE DOOR APPOINTMENT SECOND GUARDIAN CLOSED” and “RIGHT NINE EXPEL COVENANT BREAKERS.”
Therefore, what were the so-called “statements or points of view on basic issues which cannot be accepted equally by East and West, and indeed by all the Bahá’í world” to which they referred?
The fact is that to the followers of the sans-Guardian UHJ today, just about all of “A New Bahá’í Era” is considered to be basic to their organization–even the right of the Hands of the Faith to expel Covenant-Breakers, but especially the references to the impossibility of there being another Guardian.
I am one of those who do not ascribe to the beliefs of the sans-Guardian UhJ organization regarding the succession of the Faith or of the Hands being authorized to expel Covenant-Breakers. It is my contention that the mainstream Bahá’ís now have their “New Bahá’í Era” primarily because of the success of the Hands of the Cause in conditioning the believers to believe that the “Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth” could be a collective guardianship and in the Hands’ selling the idea that Shoghi Effendi had called for the formation of a sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice at the conclusion of the World Crusade in 1963 . For that conditioning process to work, the Hands had to be united in what they provided to the believers. Mason Remey, of course, was opposed to that conditioning process, and as his “Daily Observations” show, until his departure from the Holy Land he constantly remonstrated with the Hands regarding their abandonment of the Guardianship and of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, for he recognized what they were doing was a “double-faced game,” essentially because the other Hands of the Faith did not want a second Guardian.
In their now-established Guardian-less Bahá’í Era, the mainstream Bahá’ís in the year 2000 are united in an organizational pattern that resulted from the calculated efforts of all the Hands of the Faith, save one.
— The So-called
The So-called “Bahá’ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant” Are Heterodox Believers
Inquirers who happen upon a web site on the Internet that has been established by a group of people who call themselves “”Bahá’ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant” need to recognize that the basic premises upon which that organization was developed place its members outside the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
Recently on an America Online board, one of the “Provisions” leaders posted a document that set forth some of the conjectures of its members, while purportedly citing Bahá’í references that they claim support their views. Because the “Provisions” people have wrongly identified themselves as within the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, and because other heterodox “Bahá’ís and inquirers may think that the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith is in some way related to the Montana-based “Provisions” group, we feel that it is essential for those who encounter the members of that group to know that there is no relationship whatsoever between those heterodox believers and the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith.
Based upon the convoluted thinking of Leland Jensen, developed while he was incarcerated in the Montana State Prison for child molestation, the “Provisions” people believe that Jensen became a latter- day Joshua who had the power to discern the real truth of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Contrary to the wording of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and contrary to the elucidation of Shoghi Effendi’s “Dispensation,” Jensen’s followers maintain that Shoghi Effendi was NOT the first Guardian of the Cause. Instead, they consider Shoghi Effendi to be a kind of interim leader between ‘Abdu’l- Bah” and Charles Mason Remey, the latter being identified by them as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s adopted son. They then extend the line of succession to Mason Remey’s adopted son, Joseph Pepe, an individual who both discounted Mason Remey’s Guardianship and who himself never became a Bahá’í.
Like the heterodox “Bahá’ís under the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice, the Jensen believers mistakenly maintain that Shoghi Effendi was required to appoint a blood relative of Bahá’u’lláh to succeed him. They, like the other heterodox believers, have failed to recognize that when Shoghi Effendi translated the Will and Testament into English (the language from which all other translations are to be made) the first Guardian used the following words with respect to the appointment of the Guardian’s successor:
Thus, should the first-born of the guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:–“The child is the secret essence of its sire,” that is, should he 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.
Heterodox “Bahá’ís, whether they are members he Jensen group or followers of the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice, have made much of the Arabic word “Aghsán,” interpreting it to mean a descendant of Bahá’u’lláh, and saying that the word is used in the original Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. However, Shoghi Effendi himself on page 239 of God Passes By provides a different interpretation for the word “Aghsán” Quoting passages from Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, which appointed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the Center of the Faith and the Delineator of the Faith’s future institutions, Shoghi Effendi wrote that the “weighty and incomparable Document…directs, in particular, the Aghsán (His sons) to ponder the ‘mighty force and the consummate power that lieth concealed in the world of being.'” (Emphasis supplied.) Thus, the heterodox “Bahá’ís have ignored Shoghi Effendi’s interpretation and have falsely interpreted the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will in order to make the words of the Will conform to their faulty conception of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
Since Shoghi Effendi had no children, he was duty-bound by the provisions of the Will to appoint another branch–another member of the Faith–to succeed him so “that differences may not arise after his passing.” This he did in 1951 when he appointed Mason Remey as the president or head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice. (The Will states that the Guardian is the “sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body.”)
Throughout His writings ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had emphasized the spiritual relationship of people over the merely physical. In His last tablet to America, He recounted how Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (a heroine of the Faith) had denied her two eldest sons because they had not become believers and how she had, instead, embraced “All the friends of God” as her children because they were believers. The Master then wrote:
Consider! The Divine Gardener cuts off the dry or weak branch from the good tree and grafts to it, a branch from another tree.
While not doub the importance of the lineage of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi, Orthodox “Bahá’ís, in harmony with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s views on spiritual matters, emphasize the primacy of the spiritual relationship over that of the physical. Orthodox “Bahá’ís therefore reject the view of the “Provisions” people that Shoghi Effendi was something less than the first Guardian of the Faith.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote in His Will that Shoghi Effendi “is, after ‘Abdu’l- Bah”, the guardian of the Cause of God,” and He said that “the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One.”
The Master then warned: “Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Bahá’u’lláh) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation.”
Leland Jensen and those who now call themselves “”Bahá’ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant” have falsely interpreted the words of ‘Abdu’l- Bah”. Under the pretext of their false Joshua, they are raising the standard of revolt, waxing stubborn, and opening wide the door of false interpretation.
Meanwhile, Orthodox “Bahá’ís, who maintain that Shoghi Effendi duly appointed his successor when he appointed Mason Remey as the head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice, now teach the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh under the guidance of the third Guardian, Joel B. Marangella, who is Mason Remey’s duly-appointed successor.
— The Problem
THE PROBLEM FACED BY SANS-GUARDIAN BAHá’ÍS
In January of this year (1997), one of the participants in the newsgroup “soc.religion.bahai” responded to an extended series of postings by other individuals. in the newsgroup. His response included the following statement: “Over the past year or so in reading all these issues and the many and diverse responses and understandings of the friends I have yet to see consensus.”
Whether the person who posted that statement was aware of the long-ranging implications of his words is not known, but from the perspective of the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith the statement highlights the problem faced by sans-Guardian “Bahá’ís: Minus a Guardian of the Faith to resolve their differences, the heterodox “Bahá’ís will continue to experience the same kinds of divisive arguments that caused schisms in previous religions.
The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is clear. The Master wrote: “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.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá conclusively identified the function of his successors by using the words “guardian of the Cause of God” in relation to his appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the first Guardian. At the close of His Will and Testament ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated that “To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular convictions. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause [the Guardian] and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.”
In His Will ‘Abdu’l-Bahá bestows upon Shoghi Effendi and the successor Guardians the same interpretative power as He Himself was given by Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’u’lláh stated of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “Verily, I have appointed One Who is the Centre of My Covenant. All must obey Him; all must turn to Him; He is the Expounder of My Book and He is informed of My purpose.”
The operation of this interpretive power was explained by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in one of the Tablets of the Divine Plan. He wrote:
In brief, O ye believers of God! The text of the Divine Book is this: If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the Divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute may arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love. Should there appear the least trace of controversy, they must remain silent, and both parties must continue their discussions no longer, but ask the reality of the question from the Interpreter. This is the irrefutable command!
In his “Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh,” Shoghi Effendi reaffirms what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has said regarding the interpretive function of the Guardian of the Cause, noting that though “the Guardian has been specifically endowed with such power as he may need to reveal the purport and disclose the implications of the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá [it] does not necessarily confer upon him a station co-equal with those Whose words he is called upon to interpret. He can exercise that right and discharge this obligation and yet remain infinitely inferior to both of them in rank and different in nature.” (The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, 1955 printing, p. 151.)
The first Guardian then writes: “To the integrity of this cardinal principle of our Faith the words, the deeds of its present and future Guardians must abundantly testify.” However, those who are now members of the sans-Guardian Bahá’í Faith maintain that Shoghi Effendi did not appoint his successor, claiming, among other reasons, that Shoghi Effendi apparently found no one who was worthy of the office after him. Orthodox “Bahá’ís under the living Guardian, on the contrary, maintain that the evidence is irrefutable that Shoghi Efendi appointed his successor in complete conformity with the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
But because there is no living Guardian to whom heterodox “Bahá’ís now turn, they invariably find themselves arguing with one another over what the Bahá’í Writings say regarding a host of topics. Minus a living Guardian to whom they can turn to resolve their differences, they find themselves caught up in an endless loop of arguments from which they cannot obtain consensus. Recently one of the “soc.religion.bahai” participants wrote: “We will NEVER know what Bahá’u’lláh or ‘Abdu’l Bah” had in mind when they wrote their numerous tablets and I believe it is futile to even attempt to guess. I believe that this is one of those ‘things’ in this Faith that are intended to be a ‘test’ for those of us who have difficulty with it. Some things you just have to take on faith.”
To which another participant asked: “If we can’t know what They meant then how can we know how to correctly apply it?”
.Some heterodox “Bahá’ís do recognize that they have a problem. One of them recently stated the matter this way: “The question is seeking an answer which requires an authoritative interpretation. ‘Who at this TIME in history has the authority?'”
One answer that the individual was given included these words: “if there were a Guardian today, he would surely have the right to interpret and expound upon the words of wisdom from those authorities that came before him. That right is now gone for anyone among us until ‘Almighty God shall reveal His new Manifestation'” [promised by Bahá’u’lláh not to appear before at least the expiration of a full thousand years]. The respondent then provides the accepted heterodox position: “Until then, we have our Guardian [meaning Shoghi Effendi, who died in 1957] who – although not physically living – is still very much with us ‘absolute and immutable’.”
But as another individual has pointed out, the matter is not so simple as that. She wrote: “Hitherto the tendency has been to treat the statements of the Guardian or his secretary as being as authoritative in the present as they were in the past. I don’t think this is entirely satisfactory, although as you rightly point out we presently have no one with the authority to make new interpretations.”
She indicated that the sans-Guardian Faith needs to make “a full and critical study of Shoghi Effendi’s work in order to examine the manner in which he made certain interpretations.” She said that the questions asked as well as the answers given are required so that they can then “begin to adequately access the proper manner of applying his interpretations today.”
In another posting, she stated: “Because there is no longer an ‘authorized interpreter’ no one can modify the interpretation which Shoghi Effendi gave last. The Universal House of Justice only has the authority to legislate, not interpret.”
Such a position, though, apparently triggered a concern expressed by another individual who wrote regarding what constitutes ‘interpretation’. She wondered about what will happen “when the House has to legislate on some issue not ‘explicitly laid down in the sacred Texts’, on which the Guardian never had occasion to issue an interpretation.” She then suggested that “some sort of de facto ‘interpretation’ may be implicit in such legislation.” Thus, she contended that “the line between what is ‘interpretation’ and ‘legislation’ seems a little fuzzy.”
The difficulties experienced by the heterodox believers in establishing what constitutes an authoritative interpretation is exacerbated by the problem they face in determining which references of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi can be considered as authoritative. A barrage of postings within the newsgroup “soc.religion.bahai” was concerned with the issue, and resolution was not achieved. As is frequently the case when an issue calling for interpretation has arisen, the sans-Guardian believers have cited statements from letters that Shoghi Effendi or a secretary of Shoghi Effendi had written dealing with the issue.
However, the heterodox believers cannot even be sure which of those letters they can accept as authoritative, and they have argued at length over such correspondence. Central to the matter are such questions as: Did Shoghi Effendi read through all the outgoing mail? Did he approve all the letters that were sent on his behalf? Do the letters that were sent on his behalf contain evidence of the first Guardian’s approval of their contents? Without such evidence, how much authority can be attributed to the information contained in those letters?
One of the heterodox believers in the newsgroup indicated the need for precision in dealing with the “letters of the Guardian, letters on behalf (i.e., in the secretary’s words) with a signature of the Guardian, and letters from secretaries”, but ultimately those under the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice cannot be precise. They cannot achieve resolution, for they cannot ask their “absolute and immutable” Guardian the simple question: “What does this mean?” And the matter is outside the prescribed domain of the Universal House of Justice which does not have the interpretative authority vested solely in the Guardian.
Without a living Guardian, the heterodox “Bahá’ís surely will continue to contend with one another and continue to experience discord and divergence. That is the problem that has plagued all religions of the past and which is bound to exist with a sans-Guardian organization. It is a problem that the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh was specifically designed to eliminate in the Bahá’í Dispensation– by providing, first for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the appointed Center of His Covenant and the sole Interpreter of His revealed Word, and through ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His divinely-conceived Testament, for a continuing line of appointed interpreters of the Word of God. Adherence to this Covenant, unique in religious history, is now found only in the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith.
— The Wrongful Pattern
The Wrongful Pattern of the Sans-Guardian Bahá’ís
In the mistaken belief that those of us who believe in the continuing Guardianship of the Bahá’í Faith are to be labelled as “covenant-breakers” (an obviously false belief inasmuch as the continuing Guardianship is the very heart of the Covenant), numbers of sans-Guardian “Bahá’ís have resorted to name-calling and character assassination in statements that they make about Orthodox “Bahá’ís and the materials that we print.
For instance, members of the sans-Guardian organization have referred to Orthodox “Bahá’ís as “spiritually corrupted people” who are “spiritually sick.” They have lumped us in with all covenant- breakers and have publicly condemned us as those who “lie and distort the truth in a manner that it cannot be easily detected.” They have included us with those who “are continuing a pathological lie and pathological slander” and have characterized our actions as “an outrage to the Bahá’í Faith.” And as to the materials that we have produced and reproduced–most of which are replete with quotations from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, and Shoghi Effendi, the first Guardian of the Faith–they have condemned them as “filled with nefarious ideas and distortions.”
As recently as December 1996-January 1997, some sans-Guardian believers have sought the removal of the home page of the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith from its proper placement within the Bahá’í Faith in the Yahoo Index. Those individuals indicated that the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith has the same relationship to the Bahá’í Faith as the Branch Davidians have to the Seventh Day Adventist Church, a most onerous relationship that is as far from the truth that it is possible to be.
A VALID COMPARISON BETWEEN THE ORTHODOX BAH”‘” FAITH AND THE HETERODOX ORGANIZATION
For inquirers who want to understand the relationship between the sans-Guardian organization and the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith, the following information is provided.
The closest parallel between the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith and the heterodox “Bahá’ís is to be found in Islam, in which one sees the division between the Shiites, who recognize the Im”ms as the rightful successors of Muhammad, and the Sunnites, who fail to recognize the hereditary authority of the Im”ms and who, accordingly, established the Caliphate instead. The Sunnites can be compared to the heterodox “Bahá’ís who, following the passing of the first Guardian, have not recognized his successors and have established a substitute organization without the Guardianship. The tenets of the Faith call for successive Guardians, each appointed by his predecessor in office in his lifetime. It is upon the Guardians of the Faith that the authority of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Faith, has been placed in their capacity as successive heads of the Faith for the duration of His Dispensation. They are the sole interpreters of Bahá’í Holy Writ.
In a letter written on his behalf that espouses the views sanctioned by him, Shoghi Effendi, the first of the Bahá’í Guardians, affirmed that “the guidance vouchsafed to the Im”ms regarding the laws and institutions of Islam was absolute and unqualified. Their infallibility was derived directly from the Manifestation.” Thus, Shoghi Effendi upheld the Shiah succession within Islam. In that same letter he observed that the descent of the Bab, the precursor of Bahá’u’lláh, from the Im”m Husayn “is no doubt a proof of the validity of the Imamate.” (Lights of Guidance, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, New Delhi, India, p. 497.)
Ironically enough, on pages 126-7 of Volume One of Adib Taherzadeh’s The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, a work that is held in high esteem by sans-Guardian “Bahá’ís, Taherzadeh, who himself has condemned the Orthodox Bahá’í Faith, cites the importance of the Shiite position. He states that those who turned to the Im”ms “received the spirit of faith and became filled with the knowledge of God, and those who rejected their authority and relied on their own understanding of the Qur’an were deprived of the inner significances of that Book.” He goes on to say that ‘Ali, the first appointed successor, “was to be regarded as the Guardian of the Faith of Islam and its spiritual head.” Then he notes that “Because the appointment of ‘Ali was not considered conclusive or binding by the majority of the followers of Muhammad, they disregarded the wishes of their Prophet and acted against His counsels.”
We who are Orthodox “Bahá’ís maintain that the sans-Guardian “Bahá’ís need to consider the implications of the first Guardian’s and Taherzadeh’s statements about the Im”ms and recognize how the current arguments of the sans-Guardian organization do, in fact, constitute a rejection of the true succession within the Islamic Faith as well as that of the Bahá’í Covenant. We think the sans-Guardian “Bahá’ís need to recognize that they are repeating the Sunni pattern and developing their own interpretations of Bahá’í Holy Writ rather than following the prescribed pattern established in the Writings, the pattern that calls for a continuing line of Guardians to guide the Faith. They need to realize that it is they who are misguided, and it is they who have manifestly violated the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
— Heterodox Bahá’ís reject
Heterodox “Bahá’ís Reject The Clearly-Established Positions Of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi
At the close of 1996 and the beginning of a new year, an individual espousing orthodox Bahá’í views attempted to establish on the heterodox Bahá’í newsgroup “soc.religion.bahai” a series of points regarding the continuing Guardianship. The series was intended to direct the reader’s attention to what the writings of the Faith offer concerning the actual Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. But the projected post, which contains the following statements, was rejected by a co-moderator of the newsgroup, whose statements about the posting are provided following the series of points. The reader is encouraged to note that the heterodox Bahá’í position is diametrically opposed to what can be found in the writings of the Faith.
Here are cited passages within the posting that was rejected by the heterodox Bahá’í newsgroup:
1. Shoghi Effendi in “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh” states that the Kitab-i-Aqdas and the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bah” are “inseparable parts of one complete unit”. page 4
2. The Will and Testament decrees that all, including the members of the Universal House of Justice, must “show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God”. W&T, p. 11, 1944 edition.
3. Responsibilities of the Guardian, as stated in the W&T, include:
a. “Expounder of the words of God” – p. 11
b. To appoint in his own lifetime a successor – p. 12
c. To nominate and appoint the Hands of the Cause of God – p. 12
d. To be the director of the Hands for he “must continually urge them to strive and endeavor ….” – p. 13
e. Is the “sacred head” of the UHJ “for life of that body” – p. 14
f. “Should he [the guardian] not attend in person its [ the UHJ’s] deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him.” – p. 14
g. “Should any of the members [of the UHJ] commit a sin injurious to the common weal, the guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him…” p. 14
h. “…the executive [the guardian] must aid and assist the legislative body [the UHJ] so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong…” p. 15
i. The Huquq “is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God…” p. 15
“The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God.” p. 11
4. Shoghi Effendi in “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, page 8, states that the guardianship —
a. “Enhances the prestige” of” the UHJ
b. Stabilizes the UHJ’s supreme position
c. Safeguards the unity of the UHJ
d. Assures the continuity of the UHJ’s labors
5. On p. 148 of “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, Shoghi Effendi states that the Guardian is the “Interpreter of the Word of God”. (See also pages 149-150.)s
6. On page 150 of “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh”, Shoghi Effendi states: “…He (the Guardian) cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members [of the UHJ], but 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 Bahá’u’lláh’s revealed utterances…”s
7. Responsibilities of the UHJ as stated in the W&T :s
a. “Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice” – p. 19
b. The UHJ “enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text.” – p. 14
c. The “guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life” of the UHJ. – p. 14
d. “The legislative body must reinforce the executive.” – p. 15
e. The members of the UHJ must “show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him.” – p. 11
“Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a Mouthpiece, a human being, a Prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abdu’l-Bah” and the Guardians….In this Dispensation, divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet’s ascension, through, first the Master, and then the Guardians.” – Shoghi Effendi, “Bahá’í News”, June 1950, page 8.
============= End of statements given in the submitted post =================
The moderator rejected the posting, using the following explanation:
“As it stands, your submittal strongly implies a need for a living Guardian. Posts such as this that are contrary to the Covenant are forbidden by the newsgroup charter. An acceptable post would have quotes from the Hands of the Cause and the Universal House of Justice which explain the situation and how the Covenant has remained intact with the absence of the Guardian. Good references for such quotes are the message to all National Spiritual Assemblies from the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land dated October 15, 1960, a cablegram from the Universal House of Justice dated October 6, 1963 and the letter dated May 27, 1966 from the Universal House of Justice and quoted beginning on page 81 of the book Wellspring of Guidance.”:
He also wrote: “These implications might be that no one has the right to put forward their interpretation of the ‘binding terms of reference’ as authoritative in the slightest degree. Although, if there were a Guardian today, he would surely have the right to interpret and expound upon the words of wisdom from those authorities that came before him, that right is now gone for anyone among us until ‘Almighty God shall reveal His new Manifestation’. Until then, we have our Guardian who – although not physically living – is still very much with us ‘absolute and immutable’.”:
When the writer of the original post, in a follow-up e-mail, asked how the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi could be contrary to the Covenant, the moderator wrote: “All of your quotes paint half a picture if you will. They are all quotes which imply the need for the Universal House of Justice and the Guardian to work together. Particularly that they must work together physically – as, of course, was assumed by the “Bahá’ís until the time of Shoghi Effendi’s death. What you have failed to include was mention of the fact that Shoghi Effendi was not able to appoint another Guardian, and thus, these two Institutions must interact only figuratively instead of physically.:
“Since your post does not refer at all to this but only leaves the impression that both Institutions must co-exist physically at the same time – it leaves an impression for the non-“Bahá’ís in our audience which is contrary to the clear Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh established by the twin documents of Bahá’u’lláh’s Kitab-i-Ahd and the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bah”. Such a post is rejectable by the moderators according to the charter of the newsgroup.”:
The moderator then reiterated that to balance the posting, the writer should use quotations from the Hands of the Cause and the body that heterodox “Bahá’ís know as a Universal House of Justice [minus its sacred head], and then the document could perhaps be placed on the newsgroup.:
Those of us who are Orthodox “Bahá’ís find it very difficult to comprehend how heterodox “Bahá’ís can come to their astonishingly different perspective of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh in light of the words of both ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi regarding the institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh. The “clear Covenant” that the moderator of the heterodox newsgroup has in mind is obviously very different from the Covenant that is provided in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament and elucidated by Shoghi Effendi in “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.”: