Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
>>   Biographies Books Pilgrims' notes
TAGS: - Bahai World Centre buildings, monuments and gardens; Architecture; Bab, Shrine of; Bahaullah, Shrine of; International Bahai Archives; Marble; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Gardens; Obelisks; Pilgrims notes; Plants; Shoghi Effendi, Life of (documents); Shoghi Effendi, Writings of; World Centre
LOCATIONS: BWC; Bahji; Haifa; Italy; Mount Carmel
> add tags
Biography of Shoghi Effendi from the close standpoint of the author's personal experiences. Short excerpt from book; Part 1 only.
Raw text distributed in Ocean and Proofread and formatted for posting here. Page numbers still missing; contact us if you can proof this for us.

Below is just a sample of the book; for the rest, order a copy from George Ronald. The full text is also available on

Shoghi Effendi:

by Ugo Giachery

Oxford: George Ronald, 1973
start page

All chapters

PART 1: The Personality of Shoghi Effendi
16 His Great Faith
18 The Guardian and the man
19 His humility and selflessness
20 His involuntary connection with the Divine Source
24 His eagerness
25 His perseverance
26 His generosity
35 Translations
37 Original literary work
37 As historian
40 Correspondence
42 His artistic ingenuity
PART 2: The World Centre of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh
72 The Arcade
89 The Octagon
97 The Drum or Clerestory
100The Crown and the Dome
148 The Nature of the Archives
151 The Project Begins
158 Plans Become a Reality
173 The Obelisk
175 Events connected with the passing of Shoghi Effendi
184 The Sepulchre of Shoghi Effendi
189 IEarly Descriptions of Shoghi Effendi
195 IILetters to Angeline Giachery
199 IIIThe Writings of Shoghi Effendi
205 IVGenealogy of Shoghi Effendi
206The Family of the Báb
208 VThe War in Africa
209 VIThe Tablet of Carmel
212 VIIGuido M. Fabbricotti, the Marble Firm
213 VIII Giacomo Barozzi, the Architect Vignola
214 IXNames of the Doors of the Shrine of the Báb
214 XAndrea Palladio, Founder of Neo-Classic Architecture
217 XIPlants Used by Shoghi Effendi
220Glossary of Architectural and Building Terms
223 References
This humble work is dedicated to my dear wife Angeline whose love for Shoghi Effendi and utter dedication to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh are far greater than my own.
[page 1]


The date of November 4th, 1957, will remain for the author of these Recollections the day of anguish, of sorrow and bewilderment. In a modest hotel in the city of London, the earthly, fruitful life of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, came abruptly, and unexpectedly, to an end. To the writer, it was as if the light of wisdom, solace and righteousness had been extinguished forever: something similar to an apocalyptic darkening of this planet.

A radiant and useful existence had suddenly ceased, leaving a multitude of co-religionists throughout the world stunned and grief-stricken. It was an unequalled and widespread feeling of despair and irremediable loss that filled the hearts wit poignant pain that could never cease; the end of an age of comfort and assurance, of light-hearted joy, the joy of one's adolescent years, when dreams, aspirations and idealism came into existence from the tranquil life revolving around the unity of the family, with its power of love and security, the source of our inspiration, fortitude and strength.

The greatest gift received from the Omnipotent, during my lifetime, was the privilege of being closely associated with Shoghi Effendi for a number of years. No words will ever be able to describe the depth of my devotion and of my abiding love for him, nor the transformation I underwent under the influence of his warm and tender affection; an influence that changed my character, my outlook on life, my habits, and opened my eyes to the unending vista of new aspirations and horizons.

In later years, I have felt the urge to communicate to others the power of his love; thus the decision to write down some of my observations and experiences. It is a recollection, however inadequate - an effort to render him due justice and to recall for others the life of such a unique and precious personage. I sincerely trust that future scholars will undertake to produce a detailed life history of him whom I consider to be the 'true man of the century'.

Much merit for my efforts goes to my dear wife, Angeline, who with her encouragement and patience has guided me to the completion of the manuscript. Deep thanks and appreciation go to our dear friend Beatrice Owens Ashton, for her many suggestions and the reviewing of the text, to Marion Hofman for her skilful editing, and to the painter Reza Samimi for his extraordinary and moving crayon portrait of Shoghi Effendi. My sincere thanks go also to the hosts of friends who have urged me to put in writing what I have verbally expressed in Bahá'í gatherings in various continents of the world. It is my hope that the reading of these Recollections will enkindle and strengthen, in the hearts of many, a deep love and admiration for Shoghi Effendi, that we may all dedicate our lives, as he did, to the service of the Cause of God which he so greatly loved, and that we may emulate him in placing such services ahead of any personal motives or restraint.


Chapter 1

[page 3]


The Personality of Shoghi Effendi

[this page blank]

[page 5]


An Appreciation

MY direct association with Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience of the deepest spiritual import that can only very inadequately be described or explained in words. It began in the spring of 1947, after my wife and I had returned to Italy, and it lasted a little more than ten years.

In the early 1920's the Guardian had been, at least to the Western Bahá'ís, an almost intangible figure, the symbol of an institution functioning on an extra-human plane, incomprehensible from any rational approach. I knew him first through his letters and messages to the Western world. At that time my knowledge of the East was confined to acquaintance with a few Persian Bahá'ís who had migrated to our part of the globe and had acquired many Western habits and characteristics. Reports from Bahá'ís returning from pilgrimages to the World Centre of the Faith in 'Akka and Haifa were at times vague, at times contradictory, and not always illuminating. Those pilgrims who had earlier been in the presence of the Master, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, were reticent; they spoke with compassion of the bereaved members of His family and grieved at the emptiness left by His passing in November 1921. Other pilgrims mentioned details of the life in Haifa, of its beauty and repose, making reference to Shoghi Effendi as a scholarly youth who had an extraordinarily brilliant and cultured mind, and as a kind, loving, gentle and hospitable host. In those early days of the Guardian's ministry, when the basic institutions of the Administrative Order were being forged into shape one by one, with much labour and great travail, it was indeed difficult to understand Shoghi Effendi's unique station, aims and efforts. The great body of the Bahá'ís, the world over, was like a new-born babe whose sight is not yet adjusted to the new world into which he has come. The old believers, in East and West, were slowly recovering from the extremely severe loss of their beloved 'Abdu'l-Bahá and from the shock of what appeared to them to be an irreparable vacuum in the affairs of the Cause. The newer believers were trying with difficulty to become part of the as yet dimly understood administrative pattern. When we read the early messages of Shoghi Effendi now, we can see how immensely vast was his vision and how wise and far-sighted are the plans outlined in his letters and communications. All his counsel, as he led them on the way to an understanding of Bahá'u'lláh's universal conception of World Order, is expressed by Shoghi Effendi in words charged at first with patience and expectation and then with a surge of unbridled hope, underlined, however, by a shade of indefinable sadness. Was this due to the loss of his beloved Grandfather, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, or to the immensity of the tasks ahead?

I am certain that the echo which sounded then in my heart was resounding similarly in the hearts of countless Bahá'ís everywhere. When Shoghi Effendi's first messages appeared, followed soon by his translations of some of the Sacred Writings, it was clear that a new style came into bloom, a new standard was set, and a perfect balance was achieved between the poetic and flowery Eastern languages of the original texts and the rationalistic Western idioms. I vividly remember spending long hours reading and living every word, feeling the joy of being part of some reality which reflected an unseen world as yet unknown to most human beings, from which emerged, with ever-increasing brilliancy, Shoghi Effendi's personality. In later years when I was fortunate enough to meet him in person, I was grieved to notice what a heavy toll his gentle body had paid during the decades of writing and translating. As time passed, Shoghi Effendi's personality arose in crystalline clarity to an ever greater magnitude, establishing him as a true beloved in the hearts of the believers and as a leading and unique world figure. Historians and scientists of the future will eagerly investigate the life, activities and achievements of Shoghi Effendi, and prove to a perhaps still disinterested and unbelieving world all the spiritual and eugenic factors that blended into the making of a genius.

Shoghi Effendi's love of learning, his eagerness to know and understand, a refined artistic taste combined with a great ability to do things, the remarkable energy he possessed, all these, together with much common sense and such superior spiritual powers that all who came into contact with him were subjugated by his love, made it clear that the striking qualities so evident in his maternal Grandfather had appeared in him to the fullest extent. His indomitable will imposed a self-control which is seldom found in others. During the first crucial months of his stewardship following the passing of Abdu'l-Bahá, when he found himself appointed Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, undoubtedly he must have relied on this self-control to adjust himself to his new life, to bid farewell to his youthful dreams, to his fondness for sports (tennis and Alpine climbing), submerging all worldly desires, interests and feelings - normal emotions in a young man of his age and rank - into nothingness. As to his remarkable energy, suffice it to say that his ability to work uninterruptedly for long hours was amazing and bordered upon the marvelous.

He was of a gentle nature, his manners were cordial, remarkably loving and aristocratic, and his memory was extraordinary. He could remember names, dates, places and circumstances with a clarity that commanded respect and admiration. He knew the history of the Bábi and the Bahá'í Revelations from their inception, while at the same time his full, comprehensive and detailed knowledge of the world and its nations, peoples, governments, religions, history and culture was outstanding. With regard to his appearance, my first impression was one of wonder. His gentle, graceful figure was enhanced by the power and authority which emanated from him; his broad forehead, his fine hazel eyes filled with light, the harmonious oval shape of his dear face, with his dark hair and small moustache, the consuming fire of his gaze, the small well-shaped hands, the striking purity and innocence and integrity which emanated from his whole being, all made a perfect vehicle for the tremendous forces of the spirit which were channelled through him.

His apparently delicate body was charged with such vitality that he could work month after month, year after year, without any appreciable interruption. If one came near to him, one could feel this great vitality, almost like an electric charge, radiating from him upon men and things, and when his particularly well-modulated and resonant voice eagerly and passionately expressed the depth of his thoughts, the fascination was complete and captivating.

Early in 1947 I was practically unknown to him but, because of a fortunate coincidence which placed me in Italy at that time, I was charged by him with the mighty task of securing the carved marble and other materials for construction of the outer structure of the Báb's Shrine on Mt. Carmel. My personal relationship with the Guardian hitherto had been limited to a few letters and some cablegrams, most of which concerned personal matters. After the work on the Shrine began, in April 1948, directives came with frequent regularity, and I soon learned that alertness, speed and accuracy were wanted by him at all times. Then I well understood the tone of urgency which had become the keynote of most of his messages.

Those were difficult days in Italy, a country whose economy had been shattered by a disastrous war. My efforts therefore had to be multiplied if I wanted to keep pace with Shoghi Effendi's eagerness. As I redoubled my efforts, my recompense became greater. Never before in long years of business activity had I received such a recompense! A flow of appreciation, of tender and abiding love, of undeserved praise and gratitude came my way almost every day, for well over nine years. My life was transformed: the greatest joy and elevation came to me from a gentle and noble hand that penned letters and cables in words loomed with the indestructible threads of superhuman love - words which revealed to me what a treasure the world possessed!

As time passed, my activity expanded: more duties and more trust were placed upon my person. By then I was well aware of a tremendous power which originated at the World Centre of the Faith and was bountifully infused into my being by him whose word and wish had become my law. Finally, in the early spring of 1952, when my longing could be repressed no longer, a cablegram came: 'Welcome to Haifa'. Hasty and feverish preparations were completed in a few days and then I went on wings.

Chapter 2

[page 10]


Pilgrim Impressions

I have now only a vague memory of what happened or what I saw in the hours until I met Shoghi Effendi that evening of the middle of February 1952.

Those Bahá'ís who went on pilgrimage during the lifetime of Shoghi Effendi will remember the air of expectation which reigned all day until the coveted moment when, at dinner-time, one was ushered into the Guardian's presence. It was a custom to let the newcomer precede everyone else to the dining-room of the Western Pilgrim House - an oval-shaped room at the northern end of the lower floor of the building. When my time came that evening, friendly, eager hands led me down the staircase into a large empty hall and through another room to a clear glass door of the French type which opened into the dining-room. Those loving hands literally pushed me through the door into the room where a large table was set for the evening meal. At the far north-eastern side of the table, almost facing the door, sat Shoghi Effendi, his handsome face absorbed in deep thought. A few seconds elapsed as I paused, unable to utter a word or a cry, while my heart was ready to burst. He was wearing a dark steel-grey coat and on his head rested a black tarboosh of unusual height and shape. He lifted his head in my direction and then I met his luminous penetrating gaze. As he rose to greet me a broad smile illumined his whole face, while his eyes seemed to probe my innermost being, as if searching for proofs of love and trust. The most affectionate words, the sweetest tongue in the world could not reproduce the eloquence of that smile, nor could the deepest thinker of this earth have analyzed the loving understanding that radiated in it. I cannot relate the emotion I felt on going near to him.

'Welcome! Welcome!' he said, with a gentle and yet compelling voice. 'At last you have come.' And with a rapid and unforeseen seen motion he embraced me with such a tenderness that for a time I felt I was in the arms of all the mothers of the world. Satisfaction and contentment filled my heart; unable to utter a word and yet electrified by all the love expressed in this gesture, I had to steel myself not to fall at his feet. A strong urge to embrace him, again and again, to make myself inconspicuous, small, humble, was overpowering me. But Shoghi Effendi must have sensed this perplexity within me, and guided me to a place at the table. As soon as I was seated and had regained my control, I had the feeling that finally I had reached home. After so many years I cannot recollect all that Shoghi Effendi told me. Expressions of praise and gratitude were flowing from his lips, and my embarrassment and blushing must have been quite evident to the other guests at the table.[*]

    * See Appendix II for letters written by the author to his wife in Rome relating his first meetings with Shoghi Effendi.

This feeling of nothingness in his presence never left me. Even years afterwards, whenever I came near him, there was an overwhelming force that filled my heart with joy and awe, with the certainty that even my thoughts were visible to him.

As I have stated, we saw Shoghi Effendi nearly every evening at his dinner-table in the Western Pilgrim House. Every day, when the hour approached and our anticipation could scarcely be bridled, minutes became unending hours until the Persian maids of the household appeared unobtrusively and swift as winged messengers, to summon the assembled pilgrims and guests to his presence. My personal experience extended over periods of weeks and, at one time, of months, and yet night after night my meeting him was the source of new emotions. Whenever he came to the table he brought with him a feeling of ecstatic excitement which replenished my soul. Invariably I was filled with a wondrous sensation of continuity and safety, with all contingent matters fading into nothingness, as I anxiously gazed at the remote but serene expression of his endearing face. Had I served him well that day? Had my modest collaboration brought him relief and solace? Was I worthy of his consideration and love to continue to serve him? These were the questions that assailed me whenever I came into his presence. These daily contacts, however, assured my fears and left me nourished, hopeful and eager.

The dining-room of the Western Pilgrim House,[*] which was located at 10 Persian Street, in Haifa, was at the extreme northern end of the ground floor of the building. On the south side of the room, French doors permitted access from a central hall which was connected with the kitchen. At the west end of the dining-room, a door communicated with a small antechamber used by Shoghi Effendi to enter or leave the dining-room. On the east side, a small door led to another small room used at that time for storage of household implements. Between this door and the south-east corner there was a built-in bookcase, which gave the dining-room a slightly oval shape. In this bookcase were many volumes from the Bahá'í literature and a geographic atlas, kept at hand to be used, very often, by the Guardian. On the north wall, several windows opened on the little garden outside. The dining-table was rectangular and, when fully extended (as it usually was after the pilgrimages began again in the winter of 1951-2), left barely enough space for chairs and for passing around the table.

    * At present the seat of the Universal House of Justice.

[page ]

The Guardian never sat at the head of the table. This place was reserved by him for guests whom he wished specially to honour. When no such guests were present, the Hand of the Cause, Mrs. Amelia E. Collins, sat there. Shoghi Effendi invariably sat at the eastern end of the north side of the table, with Ruhiyyih Khanum at his right. Hands of the Cause, members of the International Council, and pilgrims sat around the table in places designated by the Guardian. The room was well lit at night, and during the winter months was agreeably heated by a portable kerosene stove.

On entering the room, always after the Guardian had been seated, one became surcharged with intimate joy and assurance. His radiant smile always expressed his welcome. Night after night here was the most perfect setting for a symposium of love, of universal planning, of understanding, and of action. The stream of noble words, the flow of thoughts, ideas and plans, coupled with his far-reaching vision, probing into the immediate and the distant future, were exciting and ultra-stimulating. I believe that, year after year, every person who sat at his dinner-table was changed, immediately and completely, as if touched by a magic wand. That person's inner life and his approach to life, renewed by the sublimating love of the Guardian, were undoubtedly transformed in a way that no other person could ever experience. I, myself, have never been alone or unhappy again. He imparted something to my spirit that levelled all obstacles within myself, and he opened avenues of freedom and heavenly vistas among all children of man. It was as if we were sitting in the hall of the highest ranking university in the world, where the instructor was enlightening us on any subject the human mind could conceive, imparting a plenitude of knowledge, compassion and wisdom. I shall never forget those evenings and, as days go by, my link of love and gratitude to Shoghi Effendi grows stronger and stronger.

The towering spiritual perception of Shoghi Effendi always astonished all who met him for the first time, and this spiritual strength which he so abundantly possessed greatly enhanced his physical body. He had a refreshing directness that deeply stirred one's faculties; he asked many questions of everyone, and listened carefully to everything he was told. At times his conversation was far beyond the questioner's range, and more than often he was simplifying his reply, keeping it on an understandable level. It is said that 'man is a total of what he knows'; the greatness of Shoghi Effendi has been proved by the immensity of his knowledge. I cannot further elucidate this point because of my own limitations, but I shall try to portray his extraordinary stature by reviewing here the monumental structure he erected during the thirty-six years of his ministry.

Shoghi Effendi's actions were always founded on the solid blocks of divine inspiration, while the simplicity of his environment and of his personal life gave him an aura of great stability. He possessed the perfect clarity of vision that comes from supra-normal simplicity, and because of this he countered any form of ambition, indulgence or neglectfulness with his unfailing faith and stability, with the nobility of his purpose and the unwavering discipline of self-sacrifice, instilled in him from his childhood by his beloved maternal Grandfather, Abdu'l-Bahá.

In the Master's house, at 7 Persian Street, Haifa, which was also Shoghi Effendi's home for many years, on entering the large sitting-room one sees over a table on the left-hand side the portrait of a child's head which is arresting and fascinating. It is like the head of a cherub made by a great master and it reminds one of the school of Leonardo da Vinci, although I believe it is a skillfully arranged enlargement of a photograph. The size of the head is almost natural and its beauty moves and touches one very deeply. It is Shoghi Effendi as a child. He may have been four or five years of age at the time. Innocence and wonder are depicted on that dear face. The very large, almond-shaped eyes seem to look at one inquiringly; there is an expression of anticipation and eagerness in the whole countenance, as the lips arc slightly parted, ready to utter an exclamation of surprise or marvel. I have looked at that picture for hours during the meetings of the Hands of the Cause which at times have been held in that room. Many questions have rushed to my mind: What was Shoghi Effendi like when a child? Was he aware of his great destiny? What was his character?

Shoghi Effendi was born in 'Akka, Palestine, in a house which still stands inside the fortress-city, quite close to the Most Great Prison. He was the son of Diya'iyyih Khanum, the eldest daughter of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and of Mirza Hadi, an Afnan, a descendant of the Báb's family. Because most of those who lived with him, in the same household, have passed away long ago, there are only a very few persons living today who can remember Shoghi Effendi as a child. Mme. Laura Dreyfus-Barney [*] related to me the following:

    * The compiler of Some Answered Questions

[page ]

"I was permitted, at the beginning of this century, to visit the Master in 'Akka, which at that time was a Turkish province. This happened during the critical years 1904-5 when 'Abdu'l-Bahá was constantly under the menace of being exiled to the far-away desert of Fizan in Africa, and I was privileged to have my interviews and conversations with Him while I was living in His household. Shoghi Effendi was at the time a child of seven or eight years of age. He was rather small for his age, but very keen and attentive. When not engaged in his early morning studies, he followed his Grandfather ['Abdu'l-Bahá] wherever He went. He was almost like His shadow and passed long hours seated on the rug in the manner of the East, listening, quietly and silently, to every word He uttered. The child had a remarkably retentive memory and, at times when guests were present, the Master would ask him either to recite some passage from Bahá'u'lláh's Writings, which he had memorized, or to chant a prayer. It was very moving to hear the limpid, crystal chanting of that child, because all his being and soul were engaged in communion with God. Eagerness was ever present and animated him like a flame of fire in all he did."

Abdu'l-Bahá Himself was conscious of the potentiality already evident in the child; He made His Will at that time and appointed Shoghi Effendi His successor - the Valiy-i-Amru'llah. To a believer who asked if He would have a successor, the Master replied:

"Verily that infant is born and exists and there will appear from his cause a wonder which thou wilt hear in future. Thou shalt see him with the most perfect form, most great gift, most complete perfection, most great power and strongest might! His face glisteneth a glistening whereby the horizons are illumined!"[1]

    [1] TAB II p. 484

[page ]

There is no doubt that the choice of Abdu'l-Bahá'í successor had been made quite early in the life of Shoghi Effendi; although he himself was not aware of it, the Master had absolute faith in the character and capacity of His little grandson. That Shoghi Effendi was not aware of the Master's choice is certain. In December 1954, when my wife and I were on pilgrimage to Haifa, the Guardian turned to her one evening at dinner, and said, without any apparent motive except to answer the question she had been wanting to ask for days:

"I want you to know that the Master neither in writing nor by word of mouth intimated that I was to be His successor, nor left any written instruction as to the manner in which to conduct the affairs of the Cause; I had a tumult in my soul and find my way step by step."

Chapter 3

[page 16]




OF all the characteristics that Shoghi Effendi possessed, the one that I believe was at the very core of his personality and was deeply rooted in his soul was the immense faith he had, his complete reliance on the efficacy of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. He clung to His Teachings with a tenacity that cannot be likened to anything. His whole being was permeated with the power of the Revelation, and this is the reason that all who came near him or in contact with him felt so safe, so assured, so regenerated. For the same reason, scheming individuals who inclined towards evil-doing or deceit could not remain long in his presence and went away frightened, bewildered and chastened. During my years of association with Shoghi Effendi I experienced, over and over again, the power emanating from his belief, a power that removed difficulties, brought unexpected happy solutions and paved the way to better and greater achievements.

Counterbalancing this characteristic there was a tremendous aversion to unfaithfulness and Covenant-breaking. During one of my longer stays in Haifa, from the end of March to July 1952, the 'old' and 'new' Covenant-breakers, emboldened by the end of British administration in Palestine, devised a plan to wrest from the hands of the Guardian all the possessions of the Faith in the Holy Land, by challenging the authority conferred upon him in the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá. Their machinations were intended mainly to harass Shoghi Effendi in the hope of bringing him to Court, where they could inflict on him publicly all kinds of humiliations through the use of legal cavils and the like. The affair lasted about three months, and of course ended with full victory for him, but what he suffered it is impossible to describe. The sacredness of the Institution of the Guardianship was not only challenged but was attacked for the purpose of creating confusion and turmoil in the rank and file of the believers. His great suffering was for the sacrilege being committed against this Institution of the Faith. It was so abhorrent to him that he felt physically ill, as if 'a thousand scorpions had bitten him'. During the most crucial days of this sorrowful experience, one night after dinner he spoke to me alone for several hours. His indignation was immense. He reviewed the tragic history of all that had happened since the days of the Bábi Dispensation, the sufferings inflicted on Bahá'u'lláh by Subh-i-Azal (Mirza Yahya), the perfidy of Muhammad-Ali against the Master, the situation that arose in 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í immediate family in the years which followed His passing, and all the acts of treachery and disobedience perpetrated by infamous followers in whom both the Master and himself had aforetime placed their trust. Often visibly grieved and filled with anxiety, he would say to me: 'You must know these things'; 'I want you to know these things'. These phrases he repeated several times during the course of the conversation. Many things he said I cannot repeat now, but they gave me a feeling of anguish and, I may say, of fear, because I became conscious that the Divine Covenant was assailed with vehemence by ruthless, satanic people, and that while the mass of the believers throughout the world were unaware of this grave danger, he, Shoghi Effendi, single and alone, was its defender, protected only by the armour and shield of his faith in God and His Covenant. The image passed rapidly through my mind of this new David battling single-handed against a ferocious, deadly monster, with all the terrors of the wilderness around him. He mentioned to me by name, one by one, the unfaithful members of his immediate family, their disobedience and obstinacy. He spoke also of the intrigues and disobedience of some followers who later had begged for forgiveness, with 'puny and pitiful excuses'. 'I am only the Guardian of the Cause of God and I must show justice,' he said; 'God only can show them mercy, if not in this world, in the next.' After a pause he looked at me silently for a while and then added: 'But if they repent the Guardian would know their sincerity and pardon them.'

During this entire conversation shadows of sorrow and dismay, like heavy storm clouds, passed over his luminous face. I could sense all the time the inner agony of his soul and the suffering of his body. A surge of unbounded love filled my heart. What would I have given to restore his happiness and tranquillity! How much I loved this Defender of the Covenant, this Sign of God on earth, the inspirer of every noble thought among the children of men! I had to control myself not to take him in my arms, to shield him from any further suffering, to assure him that for every Covenant-breaker there were thousands and thousands of believers who, like me, were ready to shed their blood if that were demanded!

[page 18]


At this point I would like to illustrate still another of the spiritual virtues of Shoghi Effendi, which I had noticed before but which, during that vital conversation, became evident in all its strength and delicacy; namely, the capacity to separate himself as a man from Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Cause of God. When he spoke of the labours, duties, plans, present and future, the inspirations, the decisions of the Guardian, he was so impersonal that one could have believed he was speaking of another person. This endeared him even more, because to find such a balance of humility and greatness, of objectivity and selflessness coupled with a fertile, creative and poetic mind is one of the rare happenings in thousands of years. I have used the word delicacy, because in all his thought and action there was no affectation or remote trace of pride or vainglory. An illuminating example of this is to be found in one of his masterly letters, The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, in the section on the Administrative Order wherein is described the station of the Guardian.[2]

    [2] This statement is included in WOB pp 150-2

Another notable instance of his impersonal identification with the Guardianship - due in part to the great respect and reverence he had for that divine Institution of the Faith decreed by its Founder - is the terse and extraordinary cablegram to the Bahá'ís of the United States in answer to a congratulatory message on the occasion of his marriage to a North American believer. [*]

    * Mary Maxwell, formerly of Montreal, Canada, daughter of the martyr of the Faith, May Bolles, and William Sutherland Maxwell, Hand of the Cause of God. The marriage took place in the Holy Land, on 25 March 1937. She was given the title Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum by the Guardian.

This cablegram is one of the most beautiful and moving messages sent by Shoghi Effendi and shows the high degree of his love for the people of the American continent and his delicate sensitivity. Many times since the cablegram was made public, I have thought of the bounty thus bestowed upon the American people, for which they ought to be proud and grateful for ever. It reads as follows:

"Deeply moved by your message. 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 tie vitally binding them to so weighty an organ of their Faith." [3]

    [3] MA pp.8-9 The cablegram is dated 30 March 1937

Where can one find such nobility, expressed in a language that perhaps our generation is unable to understand and fully appreciate!

[page 19]


Humility of a kind not yet known elsewhere was one of Shoghi Effendi's many unique virtues, a humility which came from the conviction that man's faculties are not self-created but are a precious trust from God, not to be displayed or used overbearingly or with vanity. And yet he emanated true pride and dignity, such a regal dignity that raised him far above any man I have yet met or known.

When conversing with him, one could strongly sense this feeling of humility, while his ample brow and penetrating eyes reflected an inner light born of faith, courage and determination. One could feel an awareness that was amazing and rendered one speechless.

Shoghi Effendi's selflessness was not only outstanding but exemplary. He never placed his personal interests or desires ahead of his functions as Guardian. Those who were near to him inevitably felt that his life was something to be fully expended in the service of God and humanity, in a dedication unlike that of any other human being. When close to him I always felt the powerful process of his sublimation to the reality of the unseen world, while his body was there, near to me, like a visible, finely-tuned musical instrument whose melodies, imperceptible to the human ear, vibrated unseen through the ether.

He was always ready to give comfort, verbally or in writing, to encourage, to praise and to stimulate to such a degree that one felt the urge to place at his disposal life, time and possessions within the range of one's capacity and emotional exaltation. This was the essence of his detachment from worldly things. The less he thought of himself, the higher he soared in the sphere of spiritual authority and prestige. This was perhaps the secret of his tremendous attraction and influence upon those who came close to him.

[page 20]


If one were to relate in detail the manifold aspects of the personality of Shoghi Effendi which like facets of a perfectly cut gem reflected the rays of divine light and inspiration, many volumes would not suffice. I firmly believe that psychologists will come to agree with the point of view that while human beings, generally, react in a voluntary or semi-voluntary way to circumstance, situations, inspiration and even to what may be considered illumination from the Divinity, Shoghi Effendi, like a sensitive instrument connected to the Source of all powers, reacted involuntarily to the most imperceptible spiritual impulse which activated his organism, making him capable of executing and discharging all functions and responsibilities related to the Cause of God without the slightest probability of error.

This analysis, made at the very first meeting with him, explained to me clearly and conclusively the meaning of divine guidance and infallibility - two things that Shoghi Effendi could not voluntarily choose or control. During the spring of 1952, as already stated, when owing to his graciousness I was allowed to remain in the Holy Land for several months, the opportunity came to observe him systematically and under various conditions.

It generated great delight in me to do so, because it was like exploring an enchanted land where one passed from wonder to wonder, from surprise to marvel. The joyful part of it was derived from the simplicity and normality of the environment and from situations which permitted these observations without hindrance and under the most favourable circumstances.

It was Shoghi Effendi's habit, in the early afternoon, to interrupt his work on his correspondence and to be driven from the house on Persian Street to the Eastern Pilgrim House on the slope of Mt. Carmel, close to the Shrine of the Báb. At that time (spring 1952) the construction of the superstructure of the Shrine was progressing with some difficulty because the architect, William Sutherland Maxwell, had recently passed away,[*] and the building contractor was seriously ill. I therefore welcomed the opportunity to assist the head-mason in many details of the construction that were well known to me, since all the marble had been carved in Italy under my supervision. This permitted the opportunity of spending many hours at the Shrine, and although it was accepted that one would not intrude upon the Guardian on such an occasion, I would notice him from a distance, pacing the entire length of the northern gardens deeply absorbed in thought and absolutely unaware of his surroundings. He would then enter the Shrine for prayers, remaining for quite some time, after which, slowly retracing the paths of the garden, he would return to his automobile to be driven home. The atmosphere of peace and repose which eternally hovers over the gardens and around the Báb's Shrine, combined with the sacredness of the Spot, certainly offered him a haven from distress and physical exhaustion, so that all his faculties were regenerated by the power of divine inspiration and guidance. At night, when at dinner, his dear face, like an open book, would reveal the process undergone during the day, and his warm and enthusiastic conversation would confirm, without any doubt, the new heights scaled in the world of realities.

    * In Montreal, Canada, on 25 March 1952

[page ]

A few times I had the great blessing of being permitted to accompany Shoghi Effendi to the Shrines of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji and of the Báb on Mt. Carmel. As we walked along the paths of the gardens, I was very close to him, and there came a feeling I cannot well describe. He walked with much dignity and grace, his fine intelligent face glowing with an inner light; his steps, well-measured and rhythmic, seemed to bring his feet scarcely in contact with the path, as if he feared to disturb the sanctity of the ground on which he trod or to break the harmony all around him. During my lifetime I have met several kings and many great personages in the scientific, political and ecclesiastical worlds, but never have I had the feeling of rapture and bliss that I felt in those unforgettable moments when I was so close to Shoghi Effendi. I could feel that although his body was with us (as on all these occasions a small group of believers was following him), his mind and spirit were rejoicing in the infinite realm of reality where no time, space or human frailties exist. The joy that overcame me on such occasions was as if I had reached the highest pinnacles of freedom and of true immortality. I could have laid down my life then and there without regret or sorrow, so immense was the flow of divine grace that enveloped me.

The first of these occasions was the anniversary of the Birth of the Báb. The few Western Bahá'í men who were in Haifa at the time (spring of 1952) gathered with other male believers of Haifa, 'Akka and Nazareth in the hall of the Eastern Pilgrim House on Mt. Carmel, to await the arrival of the Guardian.[*] When he came we had readings and chanting of prayers in Persian and Arabic, and then he led us to the Shrine. He walked ahead, slowly, with the utmost dignity, his head bent slightly forward in reverence. I received the impression that he was greatly moved by the majestic tranquillity of the surroundings and by the importance of the occasion. I walked after him, joyously, free from pains and cares, breathless as a runner nearing his goal, anticipating the moment when I could prostrate myself at the Holy Threshold of the beloved Báb's Tomb. In the incomparable beauty of the gardens, the outer world had vanished, leaving only a feeling of complete peace and contentment.

    * This Holy Day is celebrated in the Near and Middle East according to the lunar calendar

[page ]

In those days the superstructure of the Shrine of the Báb was but half erected; only the colonnade and the octagon were finished, and feverish efforts had been made the previous week to put into place the wrought-iron balustrade of the octagon section for this particular celebration. Shoghi Effendi stood at the door of the Shrine and anointed every one with attar of rose as we passed him. When the last had entered, he came in and prostrated himself, trying to contain his tears which were streaming from his eyes. When he rose, he stood silent for a moment, and then intoned a chant with such sweetness as cannot be expressed in words. His voice rose and fell with varied degrees of tonality, expressing sorrow and joy, exaltation and hope. I became unaware of place and time, transported on the wings of the chant to a remoteness filled with joy, into a stillness of space far above the toil and suffering of man, where I heard the hum of the universe in all its immensity. There and then my soul was eternally linked with Shoghi Effendi, the purest channel between man and eternity, between all the Prophets of God and His children.

Some time later the commemoration of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh gave me another opportunity to be with him. This time the group gathered on the lawn by the northwest corner of the Holy Tomb in Bahji, sitting in a circle out in the open, in the balmy spring air laden with the perfume of orange blossoms.

Readings and chanting of prayers preceded an address given by Shoghi Effendi, who from time to time would translate into English some of the salient points of his talk, which he gave in Persian. Afterwards he had oranges and tea served to us, and as the darkness of the evening began to descend, giving a uniform mellow tint to men, trees and all objects, he led us to the nearby door of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. Shock-like waves were running up my spine and a tremendous feeling of awe overtook me as I stopped to be anointed by the Guardian. He stood at the door with a gentle smile wreathing his luminous face, which the joyful expression of his eyes enhanced. All lights inside the Shrine were ablaze in great glory. Slowly we advanced one by one to the Holy Threshold. When I placed my forehead on the hallowed ground I felt that my soul was being sublimated in the Glory of the True Father. When I arose, dazed by this unearthly experience, I gazed again at Shoghi Effendi; he was absorbed in heavenly rapture, and his face radiated light, beauty, purity, joy and strength. The time spent inside the Shrine listening to the golden ringing tones of his chanting was the greatest recompense I could receive from him whom I loved so imperfectly yet so immensely. These episodes remain unforgettable and constitute now the richest rewards of my association with him.

My love for the Guardian had blossomed into a tenacious unbounded devotion which can never be experienced again with another being. He was the eternal student of the greatest book of all, the human heart. Well he knew how to direct the overwhelming flow of love which his unsullied and pure heart was capable of emanating in ever-increasing quantity. Its origin was his great love for God, which reflected itself in his embracing love for all mankind. It was through his love for God that he accomplished the greatest effort the human intellect can make: to investigate the cause of this most sublime emotion and shape it for the benefit of the entire world.

[page 24]


Another of Shoghi Effendi's characteristics was his eagerness. As early as my first meeting with him, I became aware of this burning flame within his soul, for it was manifested in the emphasis of his speech, in the penetrating and searching gaze of his intelligent eyes, in the swiftness of his action and in the rewarding smile with which he recompensed those who acted promptly. The phrase so often repeated verbally and in his immortal messages, 'Time is short', reveals the pressing needs of humanity and his concern about the realization of God's plan on earth during the normal span of man's life. This phrase was addressed to every believer, without exception, spurring everyone to an eagerness similar to that which he possessed. I have no doubt that future historians of his life will identify and assemble all the threads of the incredible texture of deeds woven on the loom of intuition, wisdom and divine guidance, to show the world that during the selfless, steadfast and active life of Shoghi Effendi he accomplished what no ordinary man could accomplish in many more decades.

[page 25]


Perseverance was one of Shoghi Effendi's most noble qualities, and taught me many a lesson. I learned much from him in pursuing and accomplishing any given task. It is part of human nature to give up when attempts fail at the beginning; only a few persist in an endeavour when beset with obstacles of all sorts. His instructions to me, always to go or appeal to the highest authorities, to seek always the best, to accomplish things in the shortest time possible, and to persevere under all circumstances, became my second nature while I was privileged to work for the Cause under his personal guidance. In nearly every letter I received from him over a period of many years, the word 'persevere' is repeated. It had the power of a talisman for me, because such an exhortation was undoubtedly seconded by his love, well-wishing and prayers. How could anyone fail when he, 'the Sign of God on earth', was himself spiritually linked with the recipient of such a message?

Were I to relate all the difficulties, some nearly insurmountable, that I met during the years of supervising production of the carved marble and other material needed to construct the Báb's Shrine and the International Archives, I should have to write at much greater length. In nearly every case I did not trouble the Guardian with these obstacles. Clad with the armour of perseverance, in the certainty that his prayers were following me, and that in God's ledger the assent had been granted, I knew that the impossible could be accomplished. And it was, thus bringing him infinite joy.

Had the friends the world over well understood his plight, and the meaning and power of that exhortation, much more would have been accomplished and every goal would have been fulfilled. Like 'Abdu'l-Bahá, he offered up his soul, his life and his possessions in the path of God, devoting every moment of activity during thirty-six years of his stewardship in order to bring forward, as early as possible, the knowledge of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation to all mankind. It was through his wisdom, initiative, directives, courage, example, dynamism and perseverance that, when his noble soul left this world on that fateful 4 November 1957, the map he had completed only the day before was able to record, like a graphic summary of his life's activities, the amazing development accomplished in less than five years - years which implemented and fulfilled all the activities of the previous thirty one years of his Guardianship. That map, as was the case with some previous ones, was drafted by his own hand, and embodied his analytic talent and geographical acumen. It will perpetuate throughout Bahá'í history the memory of his fruitful, precious and distinguished existence.

[page 26]


The word generous is derived from the Latin (generosus) and signifies, literally, 'of noble birth' or 'magnanimous', but in its everyday usage it denotes liberality and munificence, both of which are qualities of magnanimity, or a regal character. Magnanimity and munificence ('great liberality') are virtues possessed by Shoghi Effendi. His greatness of mind and nobility of soul, his bearing and comportment, his apparent aloofness and reserve, which placed him in a lofty and intangible realm, were part of his birth-right and noble blood which went far back to the Sasaniyan dynasty of Persia (A.D. 226-651).[*] However, although his manners were reserved - an absolute condition for the prestige of his exalted rank - his heart was living, warm, pure, noble, tender and generous. The warmth and love that emanated from his innermost being were like a magnet that attracted and subjugated all who came close to him.

    * See Appendix IV.

[page 27]

To be generous is one of the greatest qualities man can possess. It is rare to find on this earth an individual as generous as was Shoghi Effendi. A man usually accumulates, during his lifetime, possessions that he rarely shares with others, because the criterion of giving for the joy of giving is a celestial virtue; it has not yet become man's second nature. The generosity of Shoghi Effendi was reflected in his everyday life, in his writings, in his conception of a better world, and in the power of inspiration and leadership which permeated through him into the world-wide affairs of the Cause. What a heavenly quality he possessed! He always considered the needs of others before even thinking of himself This was true not only for the spiritual wealth which was his greatest heritage, but also for material things as well, which he never sought, wanted or desired for himself. On that evening when he spoke to me alone, he mentioned that after the reading of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, when he found himself appointed Guardian of the Cause of God, he told the assembled members of the whole family that he renounced, then and there, the ownership of any estate, possessions and chattels that would be his rightful inheritance. Looking back in retrospect and examining rapidly the events which took place from that fate-laden day in November 1921, to his passing in November 1957, we can readily understand and marvel at this act of true generosity

Many instances could be related, of which I was an eye-witness, when this flow of generosity was not only overwhelming but even electrified all those present, to the extent that they wanted to emulate him, forget themselves and offer their wealth, services and their lives, for his use in the Cause he loved so deeply. As already mentioned, Shoghi Effendi possessed the uncommon virtue of not coveting any earthly possession; all his wishes and desires were directed towards the enhancement and prestige of the Faith of which he was the Guardian.

Pilgrims to the World Centre came and went, and nearly every one brought him gifts upon which love, dedication and esteem were engraved in indelible letters. They varied from personal objects to valuable financial contributions. All were accepted by him with infinite grace and dignity but the personal objects were usually passed along to the local believers and the pilgrims, while the contributions were allocated to the various projects for propagation of the Faith in all parts of the world, or for embellishment of the Holy Places, or to help the needy. While practising the utmost economy in his personal expenditure (the simplicity of his wardrobe bearing witness to this), he would contribute large sums to worthy causes outside the pale of the Faith. I well remember going one day to Jerusalem, at his request, to present to the rector of the Hebrew University a sizable donation from Shoghi Effendi for the support of its activities.

Any plan he initiated for the development of the Cause was invariably supported by a substantial contribution to inaugurate its practical execution, and to encourage the Bahá'ís to do likewise and so assure its success. It would be impossible to enumerate the wide range and size of his contributions that supplied the vital lymph to hundreds of projects. As a random example, the following is cited from his message to the 1946 Convention in the United States, which inaugurated the Second Seven Year Plan

"Pledging ten thousand dollars as my initial contribution for the furtherance of the manifold purposes of a glorious crusade surpassing every enterprise undertaken by the followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the course of the first Bahá'í century." [4]

    [4] MA p.89

[page 28]

The reader may wish to peruse all of Shoghi Effendi's messages, to note how much he contributed to foster teaching plans, to establish endowments, to purchase national headquarters and Temple sites in every capital city throughout the world, to complete the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette and initiate construction of other Temples in Africa, Australia and Europe - and these are only part of the enterprises which were blessed by his generosity. It is impossible to forget the expression of true joy which illumined his dear face, and the shining light in his eyes, when suddenly, at the dinner-table in Haifa, he announced a new plan and the extent of his own financial support. This writer, personally, was the recipient of Shoghi Effendi's generosity - his spiritual guidance, his encouragement and praise, his unbounded gratitude for services rendered, expressed in kind, warm and loving words written by himself in several dozens of letters. These are positive testimonies of Shoghi Effendi's great liberality and consideration; and there are many thousands of believers who were beneficiaries of his munificence! Some mementoes given to the writer by Shoghi Effendi are being treasured as the living part of an indissoluble chain of love, esteem and unfading memories.

Chapter 4

[page 29]


His Literary Gifts

GIFTS! Shoghi Effendi possessed many, and it is difficult to state which was the most remarkable, but one of his greatest talents is seen in his use of both the English and the Persian languages in his writings and translations. His untiring efforts, and the difficulty of his task in enlightening the masses of the believers, both in East and West, can only be fully realized by the conscientious observer who will, carefully and painstakingly, undertake the spiritual adventure of reading the vast and impressive collection of his letters, his translations from the Holy Writings of the Faith and his immortal, chronological history of the Faith known by its title God Passes By - all of which establish a notable epoch in English literature. To know Shoghi Effendi's literary work is to know and love him, to penetrate deeply into the discovery of his personality and the world of reality in which he lived.

As I stated at the beginning of this appreciation, I first met Shoghi Effendi in the greatness of his spiritual stature through his letters, which came to my attention towards the end of 1924, long before I met him personally in my visit to the Holy Land. In early youth I studied English, and for reasons yet unknown to me, I was so attracted by the freedom of expression which this language offers that the entire course of my life was influenced. When I was in my early teens, in Italy, one of my English teachers for whom I had great admiration and affection urged me to read Shakespeare, Byron and Shelley; my partiality for the English language was inflamed.

When I first read some of Shoghi Effendi's early messages to the American Bahá'ís, I was struck by a high sense of purpose, a sublimity of intention and a feeling of chastity (in the wide meaning of the word). It is difficult now to convey an idea of the emotions aroused by their beauty and the impact of their vision which, like sudden showers in the desert, enrich the arid nature of man with something rewarding, refreshing and precious. Later on, when it became feasible, I searched also in his earlier writings, when he wrote for 'Abdu'l-Bahá or translated His Tablets to the Western Bahá'ís, most of which were published in the Star of the West.[*]

    * An official organ of the Bahá'ís of North America, which was published in Chicago and Washington, D.C., from 1910 to 1933.

[page ]

Before proceeding it may be well to consider the titanic task which confronted Shoghi Effendi when he assumed the function of Guardian of the Faith at the beginning of 1922. To organize the affairs of the Cause, scattered over the continents of the globe, with the purpose of erecting on unassailable foundations the Administrative Order of the Faith - the forerunner and pattern of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Shoghi Effendi had to provide instruments for the use of those (few they were at that time) who would carry out his instructions. This he did mainly through patient, inspiring and illuminating letters of guidance, letters which unfold to a sceptic, unbelieving and slumbering humanity the majestic and almost incredible plan of redemption for the whole of mankind. These letters, like liquid fire running from his pen, express the fullness of his feelings and emotions with a sense of assurance and inevitability. This fire permeated all his writings until his very last messages. The way he always expressed himself with dignity, care and refinement touched the hearts of the readers as would the harmonious notes of a musical composition. After a few years he undertook the translation into English of the major Writings of the Faith, a difficult task which must be considered one of his greatest gifts to present and future generations of Bahá'ís.

In addition to his translations, his voluminous correspondence by mail and cable with National Institutions of the Faith, as well as with individual believers, absorbed much of his precious time, limiting considerably his rest and relaxation.

Furthermore, we must remember the friendly relations he maintained in brilliantly conceived letters to the authorities of the British Mandate in Palestine and, after 1948, of the State of Israel, activities which greatly enhanced the prestige of the Faith, as did his communications with outstanding leaders and personalities in various countries of Europe.

I have no doubt that what he accomplished during his thirty-six years of Guardianship was the systematic unfoldment of a well conceived, broad plan which he must have envisioned at the very beginning of his ministry; he was also confronted early in 1922 with the necessity of making known his interpretation of the Holy Writings. His communications thus became the best fruits, the pure gems, of his spiritual and creative work. This one facet of his immense activity fills one's heart with great joy and will act as a stimulus and an inspiration to yet unborn generations of believers.

As a writer Shoghi Effendi achieved a degree of brilliancy that cannot be equalled. He dealt with an intangible subject in a way no other writer can ever approach, for lack of the spiritual stature which he possessed. His pen penetrated the most remote by-ways of human feelings, bringing tears to the eyes and gripping the heart with a variety of new emotions. Moreover, in his translations, his use of the English language reached the highest form of epic. Because his life had been interwoven with sacrifice, suffering and renunciation, his mind became a pure channel for the spirit; he could translate in ample rhythms, in masterly phrases, the mysteries of the subconscious in a flow of inspiration which poured forth from divine sources.

To be able to understand Shoghi Effendi's work, one must realize what animated him to accomplish the titanic task he did. The laws of genetics will perhaps prove that, as the great-grand son of Bahá'u'lláh, he had inherited many virtues and noble characteristics which made possible his grasp of far greater powers than are available to the average human being, as well as a discernment and spiritual penetration seldom encountered in the most brilliant writer or statesman.

But the true animating forces which permeated all his writings can be placed in three classes. The first was his great vision. With all his passion and zeal he projected himself into the far, far distant future, visualizing the blessings which the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh would bring to mankind. Often we saw his dear face illumined by the glow of an inner consuming fire, reflecting the glory of this Order, while with a gentle and convincing voice he would tell of the five-hundred-thousand-year Cycle over which Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation would extend its shield and supremacy.

The second force was his unfaltering conviction of the ultimate triumph of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. Shoghi Effendi's life was not an easy one, but not even for an infinitesimal instant did he ever hesitate or delay. 'If I should be influenced by the chaotic condition which exists in the world,' he said one evening at the dinner-table, 'I would remain passive and accomplish nothing.' It was at the crucial time of the post-war period when nearly all countries of the world were in want of statesmanship. this unbounded conviction made him a tower of strength, a haven of refuge, and provided him with the power to accomplish things which by human standards would be considered extremely difficult, even impossible.

The third animating force was his faith in the accomplishments of the Bahá'ís throughout the world. This was one of the most real and precious sources of power to him, almost a talisman, something to be found only in the Bahá'í Faith. Shoghi Effendi was a part of the great body of believers; he was like the lymph in the human body. He was well aware that the co-operation of the believers was essential to the unfoldment of Bahá'u'lláh's divine plan for mankind. Verbally and in his written messages he strongly conveyed his acknowledgement of this active partnership of the believers in whatever he did. It was deeply moving to hear him say: 'We have accomplished this'; 'We shall do that'.

There never was the least trace of personal pride in all his accomplishments. Happiness and joy filled his heart at a new victory, but all the credit and praise were given to the believers.

It must be said, however, that at times he was saddened by the actions of individuals, and he suffered deeply from the inertia which occasionally seemed to dampen the ardour of the Bahá'ís in one continent or another. But his faith in their obedience, devotion, activity, will and virtues, as a world-wide community, never diminished and afforded him much satisfaction, encouraging him to dare even more.

Many pilgrims will remember his saying at the dinner-table: 'I have told them to do this; now it is no longer in my power, it is in their hands, and they must accomplish it.' The things hidden in the future he keenly sensed, and all things he did or planned were far in advance of his time.

Perhaps it is worth while to examine one aspect of the whole question of holy and theological writings, in order to understand better the prodigious accomplishments of Shoghi Effendi in the field of man's religious evolution.

Until fairly recent times, Judaic and Christian scriptures have either remained unavailable in their original languages or have been translated into now dead languages accessible only to a few scholars and to part of the clergy. Latin, for example, has been the dominant language for nearly eighteen centuries and is still used almost exclusively in the liturgy of the largest Christian Church throughout the world. It is thus easy to realize that a tremendous vacuum has existed in the knowledge of the faithful concerning the tenets and practices of their religions.

Bahá'u'lláh's Writings were revealed partly in Persian and partly in Arabic. Shoghi Effendi, with his deep enlightenment and keen realization of the situation just described, initiated a new era in religious literature, for without delay, after 1922, but at great physical cost, he translated, within the very first century of his Great-Grandfather's Revelation, a large number of His Writings into English, a language now widely diffused and almost universally spoken. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has spread rapidly to all parts of the world because Shoghi Effendi made the dissemination of Bahá'í literature an essential objective throughout the thirty-six years of his Guardianship, and contributed his matchless translations from the original texts, which in turn have been translated into hundreds of other languages. Abdu'l-Bahá had prepared him for this work by enabling him to master some European languages, English being his favourite.

Everything Shoghi Effendi did had but one purpose, which was the result of his far-sighted vision directed always to the future. He was aware of man's limited opportunities during the normal span of human life, but for him the establishment of a granitic foundation for the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh was most vital and impelling. One can perceive, by studying his writings, that this glorious goal was ever present to his mind, as the sun would be to a celestial navigator. Shoghi Effendi laid this foundation by erecting, step by step, the Administrative Order of the Faith. It was like raising the steel framework of a mighty sky scraper almost single-handed; he encouraged, praised, welded, reinforced, consolidated, with the endurance of an untiring construction engineer. To him the body of the Faith was the mass of believers from every land, climate, culture, language heritage and background. The Administrative Order was the gigantic structure which bridged differences, bringing unity in diversity, harmonizing habits and alien cultures, cementing unbreakable links of amity, forging unprecedented, inconceivable and durable spiritual alliances.

If we ponder even briefly on the development of the Bahá'í Faith since 1922, we cannot but marvel at the swiftness of events and the strength of this mighty administrative structure that reaches into every continent of the earth. And if we look at the kiosks of irreligion today and the crises in which all major religious groups find themselves, we realize immediately that lack of a universal administrative order, such as is possessed by the Bahá'í Faith, has been a major factor in their deterioration. The flow of the dynamic spirit of any faith can be assured only by renewal of its vitality (as the coming of spring does for nature and for man), by the administrative process which the Bahá'ís so diligently and regularly observe, in the local, national and international elections of the governing bodies of the Faith.[*]

    * Called Spiritual Assemblies (local and national), and the Universal House of Justice (international).

[page ]

The early letters of Shoghi Effendi, written under the direction and instruction of the Beloved Master, immediately after the First World War,[*] are precious ones because they reveal his mature literary mind and his whole grasp of the delicate and vast implications of the spiritual influence he later was called upon to exercise on the entire body of the believers. The wealth of his literary vocabulary, the concise and expressive style, distinguished his writing again and again from that of the many other secretaries 'Abdu'l-Bahá had at different times. It is revealing to compare these early letters with the messages Shoghi Effendi sent as Guardian of the Cause in later years to the Bahá'í world, at an ever increasing tempo, and to note how the later blossoms had the same colours and fragrances as the early buds.

    * Published in Star of the West

The whole body of Shoghi Effendi's interpretations, translations and literary works would be a real challenge even to a seasoned critic who wanted objectively to penetrate and describe the avenues illumined by the splendour of such a mind, in order to establish standards that could be compared to the characteristics of world-famous writers. It has been said that Shoghi Effendi's aspiration as a youth was to translate the Bahá'í Writings into English. At the same time he had a tremendous sense of history. Indeed, some of his analyses of events of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries so brilliantly presented in The Promised Day Is Come place him not only among the elite of the world's historians, but also in the front rank of men of Belles-lettres in this century. The culture he possessed, the refined education of his sensibilities, and his passion for reading and observing concurred in developing and perfecting his style, which acquired a structure and a particular physiognomy that became well know to Bahá'ís the world over.

[page 35]


In his translations of the Bahá'í Sacred Writings, Shoghi Effendi's style and form do not differ from those of his own free writing. They reach always the highest level of poetic prose, interwoven as they are with images, rhythm and lofty concepts. Generally speaking, some writers see and reproduce objective images of things; others express emotions produced in themselves by these images. Shoghi Effendi, however, having the most perfectly balanced temperament, could combine these two qualities and reproduce in his writings both images and emotions. In illustration it would suffice to consider his translation of Nabil's Narrative, The Dawn-Breakers, and his own historical narrative God Passes By, to evaluate the power of his style, the potency of his prose and the gripping pathos of his narration.

Much more could be said about his unique translations, such as those of the major Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: The Book of Certitude, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf; Prayers and Meditations, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and others.[*] To translate from one language to another is an art which requires knowledge, imagination and perfect mastery of both languages involved. For many years I struggled with translation into English from Italian, and vice versa, so that I well know the tremendous difficulties encountered in retaining the style, form and character of the original text - the hallmarks of the personality of the author-in the process of transferring these characteristics into another language that possesses a different grammatic structure and may, at times, lack the corresponding noun or adjective or verb used by the author. There are words in one language that cannot be translated into another because they actually do not exist. If we but consider therefore, from this point of view, Shoghi Effendi's translations into English from either Persian or Arabic - two flowery languages so rich in imagery and abundant in synonyms, the structure of which is so different from any modern European language - we can then better understand the immensity of his labour and the greatness of his accomplishment.

    * see Appendix III

[page 36]

Classical English, as used by the luminaries of English literature, is quite different from the style evolved by Shoghi Effendi to convey the mystic and heavenly meanings of prayer, praise, adoration, aspiration, tranquillity, contentment, fulfilment, joy and the inevitability of God's will. His translation of the prayers and meditations revealed by Bahá'u'lláh is like the mystic chanting of the Orient with all the fragrance of the exotic land of their origin, moving as by a mysterious impulse on the capable wings of the versatile English idiom. It is the highest form of poetry instilled with the divine substance of exaltation and anguish, of sorrow and hope. My pen fails to render due homage to such creative work, which brings joy to the hearts of countless followers and friends of the Bahá'í Revelation.[*]

    * The interested reader may consult Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, which contains one hundred and eighty-four of these matchless translations.

[page 37]


In Shoghi Effendi's own writings, the flowery language of his translations is transformed into a poignant prose containing a high note of urgency and finality. He makes use of long sentences as a means of penetrating into the depth of the reader's soul, and it becomes evident that the writer, being so attentive, so precise and so well informed, uses the long sentences not casually but with a definite artistic intent and to fulfil a specific expressive function. Long sentences are similar to monologues with oneself. They are full of passages and discourses, and are yet objective, detached and peculiar to the writer who plunges himself into and lives in his subject matter, thus giving it a life from within.

For instance, God Passes By is a flaming narrative. The character and qualities of the innumerable personages in it spring from the personages themselves and not from the author's fantasy. Like a precious and veritable gift from God, Shoghi Effendi's writing is an infinite, passionate cry from his innermost noble soul: the need to relate with great force and vehemence, without pause or rest, the greatest epic of the millennium. One can well sense that the underlying element of urgency is motivated by the inner impelling need to proclaim it, without delay, to all mankind.

The same standards of excellence appear in all Shoghi Effendi's writings, his messages, his letters - too many to mention here. Some one, some time, will diligently make a complete collation of whatever flowed from his great pen. Then from this opera omnia his personality will appear in all its perfection and beauty, as a figure carved from the purest marble by Phidias or Michelangelo.

[page 38]


I have already mentioned Shoghi Effendi's keen interest in history. It is befitting to his memory to illustrate further the fertility of his mind as it manifested itself in his interpretation of past world events and of man's wisdom and unwisdom manifested over the centuries. Night after night, at dinner, when pilgrims from many parts of the world partook of their evening meal at the Guardian's table, there flowed forth in his talks a succession of clear, accurate statements on facts and events ranging in time from the early days of biblical history to that very day. These revealed the depth of Shoghi Effendi's knowledge of the history of the world and of the alternate advances and reverses of mankind. They also revealed the adaptability of his views and deductions as related to demography, statistics, nations, races, creeds, traditions, arts, and aspirations of the peoples of the world. It was always a delightful surprise to hear him talk with such authority and exactness on historical matters which covered the whole earth. Having myself received a European education based mainly on the Greek and Roman cultures, I was astounded at the broad as well as profound wealth of information he possessed and used with such care and acumen in discussing crises and situations whose background went far back into the past. In both his writings and his table talks Shoghi Effendi felt the need to assert with assurance the signs of the new victories achieved through the spiritual flowering of a new Dispensation. Well he knew the causes of events. In the depths of his thoughts and with the keenness of his perception, he conceived them as a whole, and related the saga of inspiring and electrifying happenings in his poetic, concise and vigorous style.

His knowledge was by no means limited to the history of the great religions of the world, but included as well the circumstances of the rise and fall of all great civilizations since men started to record them, and, in particular, the situation of the world since the advent of the Bábi Dispensation. The crystal clarity of his grasp of the whole field of human endeavour was always evident in the way he related events of the past to problems and needs of the present and the future, and kept myself and those privileged to be in his presence spellbound and spiritually filled to capacity. Many nights I sat at the table eagerly anticipating the silver stream of eloquence that flowed from a seemingly fathomless spring, with a dazzling brilliancy. Much, very much indeed, I learned during those fleeting months. It was a daily experience that reinforced and consolidated my link with the one who was skilled in the use of all the instruments needed to heal the ills of the world. As a master of pragmatic history, he indicates in all his writings the way to correct mankind's errors of the past by applying Bahá'u'lláh's regenerating remedies, and he foretells the difficulties that would result from neglecting to apply these remedies.

I have already mentioned some of Shoghi Effendi's writings, but I would refer the reader to all of his works, to appraise in their fullness his foresight and wisdom, which illumined the occurrences of the past in the light of the present day's needs and aspirations.

Outstanding as an example of his historical perspective is the Introduction to the Dawn-Breakers. It contains a concise and brilliant history of Islam, to inform the reader concerning the forms and elements which concurred to set the stage on which the deeply moving drama of the Báb's Revelation was played. Many a time, during his table conversation, to illustrate some points, he would accurately quote from that particular book, or from God Passes By, or some other of his writings, often showing surprise or perplexity at the limited information, or lack of it, of some of his listeners. The footnotes of The Dawn-Breakers, some of which are in French, are another example of his talent in the field of historical research. To appreciate the tremendous background of knowledge he possessed at the time of his translation of that book, it suffices to glance at the titles and authors of the fifty-five books he consulted, as listed in the Appendix. In addition, one finds in his own handwriting the genealogy of the Báb, showing connection with Bahá'u'lláh's descendants, and presented on a fivefold sheet of paper twenty-six inches long.[*] The genealogy is prepared with scrupulous care, and shows the ramifications of the families, including names known to every Bahá'í as well as names unknown to the average believer, but which Shoghi Effendi brought to mind with great facility.[**] Always amazing was his inexhaustible memory and the ease with which he recalled episodes, placing personages in their proper positions, with all their particulars of names, backgrounds and degrees of relationship. It was like reliving the spellbound days of my childhood when my aged and learned tutor would narrate the legendary feats of Greek mythology, with gods and people brought alive by his fascinating word pictures.

    * The genealogy appears only in the American edition.

    ** See Appendix IV. The genealogy of the Báb is also to be found in The Bahá'í World, vol. IV, facing p.234, and in vol. V, facing p. 203. An even greater labour, the genealogy of Bahá'u'lláh, also in Shoghi Effendi's handwriting, is included in The Bahá'í World, vol. V, facing p. 205. It is printed on a sheet of paper forty-six inches long, folded eight times.

[page 39]

In Europe it is customary to mention our ancestors with pride, as a means of establishing a social status befitting our heritage and, all too often, our ambitions. Shoghi Effendi, on the contrary, was reserved about his unique ancestry and, as far as I can remember, never made any reference to it, as if it were a precious possession to be jealously and secretly guarded, but unconnected with himself. The type of authority based on lineage and tradition, such as existed among the crowned heads of the past, and still exists among the few remaining rulers and heads of religion today, was quite alien to Shoghi Effendi's nature. He accepted the Guardianship, not as a mere hereditary right but as the most priceless trust any human being could receive. In this lay the substantial difference between himself and the disaffected members of his immediate family.

The accurate, scholarly arrangement of the genealogies of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, with their many details, and their precise transliteration implying a perfect command of Persian and Arabic, should suffice to convince any reader of the high merits and qualifications of Shoghi Effendi as a true historian.

[page 40]


We cannot leave this subject of Shoghi Effendi's writing without mentioning another of his activities which engaged him for long hours, greatly taxing his health and strength. I refer to the enormous correspondence he had to carry on with believers throughout the world who wrote to him directly on thousands of different and, alas, at times immaterial subjects. For years he carried on this correspondence alone, assisted by a member of the immediate family or others. After his marriage in 1937 his wife, Ruhiyyih Khanum, proved herself the most efficient helpmeet to him and assisted him in this onerous task. Every day, however, it claimed more and more of his energy.

All the letters he has written - and they may number many thousands - are the essence of equity, wisdom and spirituality and are, at the same time, literary gems.[*] His letters demonstrate that he was a true sovereign, the most noble person of the twentieth century. He never denied the light of his wisdom and of his warm rewarding love to anyone who wrote to him. Those pilgrims who visited the Holy Land during the later years of his ministry became familiar with the sight of one devoted believer who, early in the morning, would return from her first visit to the post office in Haifa with a large basketful of correspondence addressed to the Guardian.

    * The Universal House of Justice, in their Statistical Report entitled The Nine Year Plan, 1964-1973, pp. 8-9, state that they have record of Shoghi Effendi's replies to some 26,000 letters. They hold, in originals or authenticated copies, 14,430 letters which he wrote.

[page 41]

When inquirers presented personal problems, Shoghi Effendi would answer in such an objective, kind and regal manner as to strengthen their faith and give them new hope. He would relate each problem to its wider aspect and thus lift it, and the inquirer, to a broader vision.

The thousands of questions put to him, either from the Institutions (the Administrative bodies) of the Faith or from individuals, were promptly and explicitly answered. On any given subject, concerning any aspect of the Teachings, of the Administration, or on personal problems, the answers, even at intervals of many years, were identical in concept. After the Guardian's passing, when I entered his room as one of the Hands of the Cause of God who went there to search for any directions he might have left, I was exceedingly surprised to find there was no master file or copies of letters, and to realize that the constancy of his answers was another of the unfathomable prodigies of the incredible mind and guidance of Shoghi Effendi. This constancy was and is proof of his vast, complete, orderly and deep knowledge of the Sacred Writings, of his steadfast adherence to the principles and laws of the Faith, and, above all, of that conferred infallibility inherent in his station of Guardianship.

This characteristic is not the singular trait of an ordinary man but is an exemplary firstness, in the realm of objectivity and justice, of a human being who received his strength and vision from the unexplorable world of the Spirit. He possessed principles and virtues that were sublime and memorable; his actions could not be limited by the indetermination that often springs from the happening itself, but must be considered a unique bounty from God the Almighty.

It should be emphasized again, that he bore this tremendous burden of carrying on correspondence with the whole world on all the affairs of the Cause single-handed and alone. His heroic individuality was epitomized by this great virtue. Moreover, in addition to answering the flood of correspondence directed to him, there are letters, messages and cablegrams addressed by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Faith throughout the world, as well as his equally voluminous correspondence carried on with the Institutions of the Faith and the friends in Persia. For the Orient he used a loftier, more deeply spiritual and mystical language which lifted the hearts of a people who, for centuries, had been downtrodden and oppressed. Today his supplications, which are of the highest and most perfect beauty, are chanted by the believers there. They represent the agony of his own soul for the long-suffering and unfortunate brethren of the land of his ancestors.[*]

    * For the genealogy of Shoghi Effendi, see Appendix IV.

[page 42]

Had we a thousand lives to live, we could never fully repay Shoghi Effendi with enough love and gratitude for the beauty, inspiration and perfection of his literary work.

[page 43]


The deep interest Shoghi Effendi had in geography and history has already been mentioned, as well as his vast knowledge of the world. Before his eyes he kept perpetually a wide vision of victories in the making and of victories he planned; like a strategist, he used maps of two hemispheres, singling out continents, nations, regions, islands and localities to be conquered with the blessings of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, the Faith which he so nobly represented. He possessed unrivalled ingenuity in making advantageous use of these maps that presented the whole globe at a glance and, with the deep insight of a true leader, he would make his plans on them, marking them with a variety of symbols and colours to reveal at sight the world situation of the Cause of God. Nothing escaped him. Everything was accurately recorded with the precision of a research scientist.[*]

    * It was at his suggestion that informative maps of the progress of the Faith appeared regularly in the Bahá'í World, beginning with vol. V (1932-1934)

[page ]

The word ingenuity has been used, because Shoghi Effendi was richly endowed with the ability to devise ways of presenting his ideas with beauty, grandeur and prestige, as well as with durability and effectiveness. This talent will become more evident in all its magnitude when his monumental conception for beautifying the World Centre of the Faith in the twin cities of 'Akka and Haifa is considered.

Twice it was my good fortune to handle the reproduction of two maps which Shoghi Effendi made to show to the Bahá'í world the goals and progress of the Ten Year Crusade: the ten year international Bahá'í teaching and consolidation plan, 1953 1963, and the victories won during the first five years of this plan, 1953-1958. The original maps entrusted to me for reproduction were drawn by Shoghi Effendi's own hand. They represented the entire world, including the Arctic and Antarctic regions. By the ingenious and artistic use of well-conceived lines, colours, circles and other symbols, Shoghi Effendi presented on these maps (each one thirty-eight inches by twenty-two inches) the whole content of hundreds of pages of printing.

The first original was brought to me in Italy by a pilgrim returning from the Holy I and in the latter part of 1952. It had to be reproduced in time to be annexed to the booklet The Bahá'í Faith 1844 - 1952: Information Statistical and Comparative, to be published simultaneously in London and in Wilmette. It was also intended for the Intercontinental Teaching Conferences held in Kampala, Chicago, Stockholm and New Delhi in 1953, and for the twelve National Bahá'í Conventions held in April of that same year. Knowing the reluctance of the Italians in general to print anything of which the Church of Rome may disapprove, I had to move wisely and cautiously to find a printer in Italy who would undertake to carry out the project without fear or eventual regret. After some unsuccessful attempts, when I was turned down for incredible reasons, I was able to locate a firm which agreed to execute the work. Map printing is an art in itself. It requires special machinery which at that time was not readily available in a country that was slowly recovering from the ravages of a disastrous war. It is interesting to recall the curiosity of various men assigned to the work at the printing plant. They asked me veiled questions at every opportunity but were unable to understand either the importance or the future world significance of the contents of such a map. They felt they were working on something special and, although I had clearly explained the nature of the design, they always suspected that its scope was far beyond its simple and obvious purpose. There is a law in Italy which requires that three copies of anything printed in any manner or form be sent to the police. Thus the conscience of the workers was quite assuaged.

As soon as the first copies of the first map came off the press, a sample was sent to Shoghi Effendi. It was swiftly acknowledged with a cable of thanks and praise. Instructions for a second printing were received in the spring of 1953, thus necessitating my presence in Italy and preventing my taking part in the Intercontinental Conference held in the United States.

The second map was prepared by Shoghi Effendi during the summer months of 1957. It was his practice to gather information continuously, which he kept up to date in his copy of the statistical book already mentioned, interpolating new pages to keep the flow of additions in systematical order. Later, in November 1957, when I saw his book after his passing, it was double its original thickness. He had been so pleased at the development of the first four and a half years of the Ten Year Crusade that, in his message of October 1957 (which was to be his very last), he called for the holding of five Intercontinental Conferences in 1958. At this time the second map, depicting the victories with true originality and accuracy, was to be presented.

When, on 4 November 1957, the light of the world was dimmed by his passing, and I rushed to London at the request of Ruhiyyih Khanum, the map had just been finished. On entering his room, the day after his passing, I saw it lying on two small mahogany tables that had been drawn together to make the necessary wide space available. Coloured pencils, pens, penknife, eraser, rulers and a compass were lying to the right of the map, just as he had left them when, in the late afternoon of the previous day, turning to Ruhiyyih Khanum, he had said: 'The map is now finished'.

The next morning he winged his flight to the Kingdom on High, but the map was there, to testify to his love for mankind and to what he had created to bring about its unity.

With my eyes filled with tears and with agony in my heart I beheld the noble handiwork of the peacemaker, the healer of humanity, the mender of divisions, the architect of the immediate first steps that would usher in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh in all its glory. Rapidly, with the speed of light, my mind raced back into the recesses of time, to the divisive forces that had brought mankind to the present abyss of antagonisms, conflicts and despair. Christianity, which had come to the world as a light in the deep darkness of paganism, began its decline early in its history, when theological differences brought the first divisions.

Through the centuries the manipulations of men weakened the structure of that Holy Faith and its unity, culminating in further fragmentation brought on by the Reformation and the irreconcilability of the many sects of one original Revelation. No leader of Christianity, or of Islam, had ever made a definite and clear plan for the permanent unity of mankind based on love and understanding in the spirit of dedication to one God. But there, in that dimly-lighted room, was irrefutable proof that the first steps in a world-wide fusion of nations, races and creeds had been successful, and that Bahá'u'lláh's divine design of global unity had been at work under the directives of its able and dedicated leader and Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. Wherever men had become divided, separated, disunited or disconnected, the gentle healing hand of Shoghi Effendi had planted the seeds of unity, cooperation, harmony, hope, faith and virtue.

In the following months this second map was copied by hand, and taken to the various Intercontinental Conferences of 1958, where it was exhibited to the friends. Then it was again entrusted to me for printing in Italy, to be available in time for the Centenary Jubilee in London, 28 April to 2 May 1963, and to be annexed to the statistical book[*] compiled by the Hands of the Cause of God in the Holy Land. This time it was an inventive and sympathetic printer who did the work with keen interest and swiftness.

    * The Bahá'í Faith, 1844-1963: Information Statistical and Comparative

[page ]

The genius of Shoghi Effendi is evident when one looks at the infinite details, the variety of colours and symbols used to give at first glance the incredibly vast results of the first five years of the World Crusade.

In considering some of the world events which have taken place since Shoghi Effendi's passing, we cannot but marvel now at man-made plans and events which clearly appear to be the aftermath of his vision. These maps clearly show the practical unfoldment of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order, with all the manifold goals set for the spiritual rebirth of this globe. For many decades pioneers - a veritable army - have gone to far-away lands, leaving homes, families and interests, not with the mirage of glory or notoriety or sudden wealth before them, and often without the essentials even of a modest, simple way of life, because they have been set on fire by the love of God and want to bring comfort, solace and joy to all with whom they come in contact. Some of the places to which these pioneers have gone were not shown on the usual maps, but it seems that as soon as they appeared on Shoghi Effendi's map they suddenly flared into public news as regions needing the attention of the world.

As harbingers of a new social pattern these pioneers travelled to thousands of localities, forgetful of themselves, willing to contribute with heart, soul and body to the redemption of their fellow men suffering under political and social structures erected centuries ago, when men had little understanding of the ways and will of the Creator. For many centuries missionaries have gone into the wilderness to bring relief from sorcery, disease and ignorance, but their sacrifices - as proved by recent events in both Asia and Africa - have been vitiated to a large degree by the sectarianism of their denominations, by their intervention in political affairs and by their involvement in factional struggles.

Bahá'í pioneers, since the dawn of this new Revelation, and as deployed by Shoghi Effendi, have trodden every continent and island, to bring the light of unity among the children of man, by helping to tear down artificial and unnatural barriers erected by superstitions and prejudices and by reaching out friendly hands to the untouchable, the downtrodden, the afflicted, the illiterate, and to those discriminated against by reason of creed, race and colour. The Bahá'í pioneers are helping to raise these people to a new level of human dignity and are opening to them vast areas of better and enduring human relations.

Little did men know of, much less realize, the necessity envisaged by Shoghi Effendi, and indicated by him in his maps, to place ambassadors of goodwill wherever possible, as bearers of the divine Message of human sublimation! In the most recent years the United States of America, in creating the 'Peace Corps', has walked in the footsteps of the forerunner of universal solidarity, Shoghi Effendi. He knew that he had to reach the people of the world quickly, during the span of a few decades, and he himself set the example, because he dearly loved not only the followers of Bahá'u'lláh but all the members of the human family. He exposed himself to overwork, fatigue and hardship, and shortened his natural life-span to obtain for them what his heart had adopted as the goal of their happiness.

Most of the Bahá'ís never met Shoghi Effendi, but they knew he loved them more than he loved his own life. Many were inspired by his contagious enthusiasm and the sublimity of the objectives he set for those fleeting decades, scattered over the highways and by-ways of the world, to kindle anew the love for God as reflected upon man. Over and over again he demonstrated that he was living on faith, and faith alone. And after he placed on his last map the spiritual victories won during the last five years of his tormented and laborious earthly life, his noble heart was stilled forever in that hotel room in London.

The original maps, and other maps which Shoghi Effendi had drawn but never released to the Bahá'í world, were bound in a cover of linen cloth by a skilful bookbinder and are now in Haifa, in the International Bahá'í Archives, for safekeeping. They remind us, as well as future generations of Bahá'ís, of the spirit of enterprise and ingenuity and devotion of our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.

For the rest of this book, order a copy from George Ronald.

start page
Back to:   Biographies Books Pilgrims' notes
Home Site Map Forum Links Copyright About Contact
. .