Our Beloved Guardian:
|1. Shoghi Effendi - An Introduction||19|
|Childhood and Youth||20|
|The Passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá: its Effect on Shoghi Effendi||25|
|Shoghi Effendi Becomes the Guardian||28|
|2. The Station and Personality of Shoghi Effendi||33|
|The Sign of God||34|
|Other Qualities Daily Life||36|
|How did the Bahá'ís respond to Shoghi Effendi?||43|
|What did Shoghi Effendi Accomplish?||45|
|3. Beginnings of the Administrative Order||58|
|4. His Writings||72|
|5. His Teaching Plans||84|
|6. The Gardens and Shrines||90|
|8. Union of East and West||107|
|My First Pilgrimage||107|
|My Mother's Passing||111|
|During the War Years||114|
|His Last Year||116|
|9. The Passing of Shoghi Effendi||118|
|10. The Guardianship||126|
|Shoghi Effendi at Beirut||128|
|Key to Abbreviations||131|
|List of Words with Meanings||132|
List of Illustrations |
The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi 2 The Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji 10 The Shrine of the Bab on Mt Carmel, Haifa 16 The Shrine of the Bab on Mt Carmel, Haifa 17 Diagram showing descent of Shoghi Effendi 18 The home of `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi in Haifa 48 The house in `Akka where Shoghi Effendi was born 49 Shoghi Effendi as a child 50 Shoghi Effendi as a little boy 51 Shoghi Effendi as a young man 52 Shoghi Effendi when he wrote letters for `Abdu'l-Bahá in English 53 `Abdu'l-Bahá and His eldest grandson Shoghi Effendi 54 Shoghi Effendi and the beloved sister of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum 55 Shoghi Effendi standing at the grave of Cecil Rhodes in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe 56 Shoghi Effendi's own photograph of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Africa 57 Shoghi Effendi in Switzerland enjoying the springtime fields of wild narcissus flowers 117 The grave of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, in London 123 The members of the first Universal House of Justice, elected in 1963 124 Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, the widow of the Guardian Shoghi Effendi 125
Dedication To the beloved Hands of the Cause of God who served and protected the Faith during the fateful interregnum years between the time of the passing of Shoghi Effendi and the election of the first Universal House of Justice.
`Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind.' Thus wrote `Abdu'l-Bahá of His grandson, Shoghi Effendi.
William and I had the privilege of visiting the Guardian for the first time in 1953. We came away with the realization that Shoghi Effendi brought forth a vast array of emotions, and that whoever met him came away with stronger feelings than could be aroused by anyone else on the face of the earth.
Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum said he was not all-knowing but he was all-sensitive. She later expanded upon this theme in her book The Priceless Pearl when she wrote:
.......... It would be hard indeed to find a comparable figure in history who, in a little over a third of a century, set so many different operations in motion, who found the time to devote his attention to minute details on one hand and on the other to cover the range of an entire planet with his plans, his instructions, his guidance and his leadership.
When we visited the Holy Land on pilgrimage he pointed out that meeting him was not pan of the pilgrimage; the pilgrimage was visiting the Holy Shrines. However, as we from the West sat at his wondrous table with him, we realized we were looking into the eyes of the great-grandson of the Supreme Redeemer of men, the Glory of God, the King of Kings, the Lord of Hosts. We were truly in the presence of the `sign of God' on earth!
He told us we didn't come on pilgrimage because we were worthy, but we came to become worthy to go out into the Vineyard to serve our Lord.
The pain of thinking of leaving to go back into a godless world was almost unbearable. At the same time the inspiration, the motivation, the rapturous joy of the experience, and the love he engendered made us want to leave and conquer the world to bring it back and lay it at his feet.
Lowell Johnson mentions that he never met the Guardian,
but it is clear that he has met him in spirit and lived in the light of the Guardian and captured the essence of his message to the world. Lowell has not only studied Shoghi Effendi's books and letters, but has given his heart to him. He has visited the World Centre nine times so far, he says, the first being for the election of the first Universal House of Justice in 1963, and has clearly applied the Guardian's administrative principles during his four years of service as chairman and twenty-two years as secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of South Africa. His writing style is simple and easy to read.
This is a small book, but a worthy introduction to one who holds a unique and pivotal position in the history of the Bahá'í Faith.
Marguerite Sears Tucson, Arizona September 1993
I never met the Guardian. But I loved him anyway. And I hope that through reading this little book you will come to love him too.
I became a Bahá'í in February 1948. His letters to the American Bahá'í community were to me like vitamins — the food I needed for energy and health. I read each message again and again, and eagerly waited for each new one to arrive. And I prayed for him daily, using the following adaptation of a sentence appearing in his letter of l4 November 1923 to the American Bahá'ís:
I beseech Thee that, from now on, Thou the Beloved may bestow upon Shoghi Effendi all the strength and vigour that will enable him to pursue over a long and unbroken period of strenuous labour the supreme task of achieving, in collaboration with the friends in every land, the speedy triumph of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
.......... [1. The actual words of Shoghi Effendi were: `I cherish the hope that, from now on, the Beloved may bestow upon me all the strength and vigour that will enable me to pursue over a long and unbroken period of strenuous labour the supreme task of achieving, in collaboration with the friends in every land, the speedy triumph of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.' (BA 51-2)]
My father died in September 1957. I was pioneering with my wife in Cape Town. I prayed for my father and knew he was in the loving hands of God. The Guardian died six weeks later. I couldn't believe it. We had received a cable in Cape Town that he was ill from Asian `flu in London. We had said our prayers for him with full confidence that he would live, because he was only sixty, too young to die, and he was our Guardian.
When the second telegram came, that he had indeed left us, I broke down and cried. I felt lost. What would happen to the Bahá'í world now? Shoghi Effendi had no children. Where was there a new Guardian? `Abdu'l-Bahá had appointed him as Guardian, and `Abdu'l-Bahá could not make a mistake. Bahá'u'lláh had told us that `Abdu'l-Bahá was perfect and could not make a mistake.
As always in my life I took up my pen to clear my thoughts.
Within minutes I had written pages, and everything fell into place. The answer was never to doubt. Bahá'u'lláh had said, God `doeth whatsoever He willeth' and `shall not be asked of His doings.' The test had come, and quickly left.
Other crises entered my life, one after another, in the next few years. But my faith was never shaken in the power of God and the Covenant. I turned with confidence to the Hands of the Cause like the rest of the Bahá'í world, and felt secure. The rest of the Ten Year Crusade, and a blossoming career kept me busy, and I went to Haifa as a delegate to help elect the first Universal House of Justice in 1963.
What a joy and what a sigh of relief. Joy and devotion were written on every delegate's face. I could see that Shoghi Effendi's life work had borne its fruit. The Universal House of Justice had been elected as Shoghi Effendi had planned it. Divine guidance was with us again. The Faith was in unity. And we went to London to be near him, at his grave and his monument, to thank him.
Although I never met the Guardian, I still love him. And he is still with us in his writings, in his gardens, in his Shrines, in his Archives, in his example, in his Guardianship, in our hearts, all of which will be explained in the next few chapters.
This book was stimulated by many people who had read the chapter about the Guardian in my book The Eternal Covenant. In this new book, I have therefore tried to give a more complete picture of Shoghi Effendi, his life and his work.
.......... [2. Published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South Africa.]
This book, however, is written in a different way. I have tried to use words and sentences as simple as possible, as always, but I have also tried to keep as much of the style of the Guardian's writing and Ruhiyyih Khanum's writing as possible.
My purpose in writing this story of Shoghi Effendi in this way is to introduce you to the writings of Shoghi Effendi and to those who have written about him. It is most important that
you read them for yourself. The reward will be worth all the effort, as it has been for me.
.......... [3. Many of the quotations used in the book contain words which may not be familiar to you. I recommend that you always keep a good dictionary handy when reading any of the Guardian's writings and translations. He always used the perfect word. However, for those without a dictionary, please refer to the back of the book for a list of words and helpful meanings. Wherever you see an asterisk (*) there is a definition at the back of the book. It is also helpful to pronounce the words correctly as these writings were written to be read aloud.]
Lowell Johnson September 1993
1 Shoghi Effendi — An Introduction
Shoghi Effendi was descended from the ancient prophet Abraham and his wife Sarah, through Jesse, the father of David. He was also descended from Abraham through Hagar and Muhammad, the Messenger of God, through his father who was a relative of the Bab. He likewise descended from Abraham through the ancient prophet's third wife, Katurah, through his great-great grandfather, Mirza Buzurg, who was the father of Bahá'u'lláh. And, in addition, he was also a descendant in the ancient lineage from Zoroaster again through Bahá'u'lláh's father who descended from King Yazdigird III, the last king in the Sasaniyan dynasty.
.......... [1. See diagram opposite.]
No wonder Marcus Bach, a distinguished writer who visited him, could say, `He walked with head up as though an entourage of the faithful might be following him.'
.......... [2. Marcus Bach, The Circle of Faith (New York, 1957), page 71.]
But all this was not the reason why Shoghi Effendi was the object of devotion by the faithful. It is the purpose of this book to draw us closer to this man who was the fourth person associated with the establishment of the Bahá'í religion, the man who developed the world wide Bahá'í Administration, and essential part of the ancient religious Covenant.
Shoghi Effendi identified what he called `the three Central Figures' in the Bahá'í Faith as follows:
The first Figure was the Bab (meaning Door or Gate) Who announced Himself as the Mihdi and the Qa'im to the two branches of Islam in 1844 and was martyred six years later for making this claim.
The second was Bahá'u'lláh (meaning the Glory of God) Who claimed to be Him Whom God will make manifest, the Exalted One promised by the Bab to fulfil His own mission. Bahá'u'lláh announced this fulfilment in 1863, won the allegiance and devotion of most of the followers of the Bab, and spent the rest of His life in exile and prison revealing His laws and divine wisdom until His passing in 1892 in the Holy Land.
The third was `Abdu'l-Bahá (the servant of Baha), Bahá'u'lláh's
eldest son (the Most Great Branch) Who was appointed by Bahá'u'lláh in His Will and Testament to be the Centre of His Covenant and the Perfect Exemplar of His Teachings.
The lives and accomplishments of all three of these Central Figures are well documented, their stories easily available for everyone to study and appreciate.
In His Will and Testament `Abdu'l-Bahá appointed Shoghi Effendi, His eldest grandson, to be the Guardian of the Cause of God, the one to whom all must turn for guidance and authority after His passing. Shoghi Effendi assumed this role after `Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension on 28 November 1921.
Childhood and Youth
Shoghi Effendi was born on Sunday, 1 March 1897. His father was Mirza Hadi, a relative of the Bab from Shiraz, and his mother was Diya'iyyih Khanum, the eldest daughter of `Abdu'l-Bahá. He grew up in `Abdu'l-Bahá's household under His careful guidance.
`Abdu'l-Bahá was still a prisoner of the Sultan of Turkey, so Shoghi Effendi's childhood was that of a child prisoner. However, by the time of his birth, the strictness of prison life had been relaxed and the family lived fairly freely in a big house, the House of `Abdu'llah-Pasha. It was to this same house that the first Western pilgrims started coming to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá beginning in 1898-9, one year after his birth.
For the best description of Shoghi Effendi's childhood we turn to his wife, Ruhiyyih Khanum:
.......... Shoghi Effendi was a small, sensitive, intensely active and mischievous* child. He was not very strong in his early years and his mother often had cause to worry over his health.... The first photographs we have of him show a peaky little face, immense eyes and a firm, beautifully shaped chin which in his childhood gave a slightly elongated and heart-shaped appearance to his face....
.......... It may sound disrespectful to say the Guardian was a mischievous* child, but he himself told me he was the acknowledged ringleader of all the other children. Bubbling with high spirits, enthusiasm and daring, full of laughter and wit, the small boy led the way in many
pranks; whenever something was afoot, behind it would be found Shoghi Effendi!...
.......... It must not be inferred, however, that Shoghi Effendi was mannerless. Children in the East — how much more the children of `Abdu'l-Bahá — were taught courtesy and manners from the cradle. Bahá'u'lláh's family was descended from kings and the family tradition, entirely apart from His divine teachings which enjoined courtesy as obligatory, ensured that a noble conduct and politeness would distinguish Shoghi Effendi from his babyhood.
.......... In those days of Shoghi Effendi's childhood it was the custom to rise about dawn and spend the first hour of the day in the Master's room, where prayers were said and the family all had breakfast with Him. The children sat on the floor, their legs folded under them, their arms folded across their breasts, in great respect; when asked they would chant for `Abdu'l-Bahá; there was no shouting or unseemly* conduct. Breakfast consisted of tea, ... very hot and very sweet, pure wheat bread and goats' milk cheese. (pp 6-8)
Ruhiyyih Khanum goes on to describe how Shoghi Effendi used to memorize prayers and chant them very loudly so `Abdu'l-Bahá could hear them. The family asked `Abdu'l-Bahá to stop him, but `Abdu'l-Bahá only told them to leave Shoghi Effendi alone. `Abdu'l-Bahá invited one of the Muslims who chanted in the mosque to come at least once a week and chant to the child the verses of the Qur'an in his melodious voice. Many members of the family, including `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi's mother had fine voices, so he grew up surrounded by beautiful chanting.
As a young child, Shoghi Effendi showed a great desire to learn, so `Abdu'l-Bahá started classes in His household for the children, taught by an old Persian believer. He also had an Italian teacher, who acted as governess.*
Remembering that the family were prisoners in the city of `Akka, Ruhiyyih Khanum continues the story:
.......... Although these early years of Shoghi Effendi's life were spent in the prison-city of Akka, enclosed within its
moats* and walls, its two gates guarded by sentries*, this does not mean he had no occasion to move about. He must have often gone to the homes of the Bahá'ís living inside the city, to the khan* where the pilgrims stayed, to the Garden of Ridvan and to Bahji. Many times he was the delighted companion of his grandfather on these excursions.* We are told that sometimes he spent the night in Bahji in the house now used as a pilgrim house; `Abdu'l-Bahá would Himself come and tuck him in bed, remarking `I need him.' He also was taken to Beirut, the only large city in the entire area and one often visited by members of `Abdu'l-Bahá's family ... in addition to this great capacity to learn, Shoghi Effendi had a heart so tender and a nature so sweet that if he had offended* any playmate — even though he would never do so unless that child had cheated or schemed — he would not go to sleep before he had embraced him and left him happy; he always urged his little companions to make up their differences before they went to bed. (pp. 9-10)
An interesting story is told of Shoghi Effendi's attitude toward `Abdu'l-Bahá. The story-teller is a German doctor who attended the ladies in the household:
.......... As Abbas Effendi [`Abdu'l-Bahá] spoke in Persian regarding some matter to Abu Shoghi (the father of Shoghi Effendi), who was standing in front of Him, the grandson, after greeting us politely and also kissing the hand of his great aunt, remained near the door in a most respectful attitude.... He was dressed in European summer clothes, with short pants but long stockings that came up above his knees and a short jacket. From his height and build one would have taken him to be thirteen or fourteen ... In the still childish face the dark, already mature, melancholy eyes struck me at once. The boy remained motionless in his place and submissive in his attitude. After his father and the man with him had taken their leave of the Master, his father whispered something to him as he went out, whereupon the youth, in a slow and measured manner, like a grown up person, approached his beloved grandfather, waited to be addressed,
answered distinctly in Persian and was laughingly dismissed, not, however, without being first permitted the respectful kiss on the hand. I was impressed by the way the youth walked backwards as he left the room, and how his dark, true-hearted eyes never for a moment wavered from the blue, magical glance of his grandfather. (pp. 11-12)
It was about this time that Shoghi Effendi's nurse Hajar Khatun, who had always been with him from infancy, died. He was very attached to this nurse. When he heard the news, he went into his father's garden in the dark and cried for her. He often spoke of her to Ruhiyyih Khanum.
Ruhiyyih Khanum has this to say about his schooling:
.......... Shoghi Effendi entered the best school in Haifa, the College des Freres, conducted by the Jesuits. He told me he had been very unhappy there.... Because of his unhappiness in this school `Abdu'l-Bahá decided to send him to Beirut where he attended another Catholic school as a boarder, and where he was equally unhappy.... `Abdu'l-Bahá ... then had arrangements made for Shoghi Effendi to enter the Syrian Protestant College, which had a school as well as a university, later known as the American College in Beirut, and which the Guardian entered when he finished what was then equivalent to the high school. Shoghi Effendi spent his vacations at home in Haifa, in the presence as often as possible of the grandfather he idolized* and Whom it was the object of his life to serve. The entire course of Shoghi Effendi's studies was aimed by him at fitting himself to serve the Master, interpret for Him and translate His letters into English.
.......... Shoghi Effendi told me that it was during these early years of study in Haifa that he asked `Abdu'l-Bahá to give him a name of his own so he would no longer be confused with his cousins, as they were all called Afnan. The Master then gave him the surname of Rabbani, which means `divine', and this was also used by his brothers and sisters. In those days there were no surnames... (pp. 17)
While `Abdu'l-Bahá was travelling in America, in 1912-13, Shoghi Effendi followed His progress avidly, asking a friend to send him copies of the Star of the West. Ruhiyyih Khanum quotes one of his letters:
.......... `I have pretty near finished the map of the United States of America. It is a very picturesque and beautiful map. Please send me the list of the cities of the United States visited by our Lord in order one after the other. I will be then able to locate them in the map.' The great mapmaker of the Bahá'í world was already busy! (pp. 24)
Further about his education:
.......... Shoghi Effendi also played a dominant role in the activities of the Bahá'í students studying in Beirut...
.......... [3. There is a letter about this at the back of this book.]
.......... In February 1915 Shoghi Effendi won first prize in the Freshman-Sophomore Prize Contest — what for is not stated — awarded by the Students' Union....
.......... It was in 1918 that Shoghi Effendi received his Bachelor of Arts degree. (pp. 25, 26)
Shoghi Effendi was now twenty-one years old. He entered the service of his grandfather as His secretary and right-hand man. He often accompanied `Abdu'l-Bahá to many official functions, he spent much time with the pilgrims, he took care of various errands and business activities, he observed how the Master dealt with high officials and men of distinction, and how He conducted Himself with His enemies and the Covenant-Breakers.
This blessed closeness to `Abdu'l-Bahá lasted about two years. Then it was decided that he should go to England and enter Oxford University. His purpose was to perfect his English in order to be a better translator of `Abdu'l-Bahá's letters as well as the other sacred Writings. He was enrolled in Balliol College, which had a very high standing and was one of Oxford's oldest colleges.
Again, we turn to Ruhiyyih Khanum:
.......... The remembrance of those student days never really died out in Shoghi Effendi. I can remember his once telling an
English pilgrim, during the last years of his life, how good the thick slices of brown bread, raspberry jam and Devonshire cream had tasted to him.
.......... ...In spite of the fact that he spent most of his time at Oxford, and concentrated on his studies, he was closely associated with the British Bahá'í community and shared in its activities....
... He belonged to a debating society and liked to play tennis; but details of his days in Oxford are singularly lacking. (pp. 34, 38)
The Passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá: its Effect on Shoghi Effendi
Shoghi Effendi learned about the passing of his beloved grandfather after he was called to Major Tudor Pole's office in London on 29 November 1921. He arrived at the office while Tudor Pole was temporarily out. He glanced at a telegram lying on the desk which read:
HIS HOLINESS `ABDU'L-BAHA ASCENDED ABHA KINGDOM. INFORM FRIENDS. GREATEST HOLY LEAF (pp. 39)
When Tudor Pole entered the room, he found Shoghi Effendi in a state of collapse. He was taken to the home of one of the London believers and put to bed for a few days. A letter from Shoghi Effendi to a Bahá'í student describes his condition:
.......... The terrible news has for some days so overwhelmed* my body, my mind and my soul that I was laid for a couple of days in bed almost senseless, absent-minded and greatly agitated; Gradually His power revived me and breathed in me a confidence that I hope will henceforth guide me and inspire me in my humble work of service. The day had to come, but how sudden and unexpected. The fact however that His Cause has created so many and such beautiful souls all over the world is a sure guarantee that it will live and prosper and ere long will compass* the world! I am immediately starting for Haifa to receive the instructions He has left and have
now made a supreme determination to dedicate my life to His service and by His aid to carry out His instructions all the days of my life. (pp. 40)
This is a most surprising letter, as Shoghi Effendi at that time had no idea of what his future would be. When he returned to Haifa he discovered that the family had found `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will addressed to Shoghi Effendi. A few days after his arrival the family read it to him. Ruhiyyih Khanum relates:
...In order to understand even a little of the effect this had on him we must remember that he himself stated on more than one occasion, not only to me, but to others who were present at the table of the Western Pilgrim House, that he had had no foreknowledge of the existence of the Institution of Guardianship, least of all that he was appointed as Guardian; that the most he had expected was that perhaps, because he was the eldest grandson, `Abdu'l-Bahá might have left instructions as to how the Universal House of Justice was to be elected and he might have been designated* the one to see these were carried out and act as Convenor of the gathering which would elect it. (pp. 42)
As the implications of his appointment sank into his sensitive being, he fell into the darkest grief and despair, intense sadness and agitation.
.......... ... wherever I go I remember my beloved grandfather and whatever I do I feel the terrible responsibility He has so suddenly placed upon my feeble shoulders.... How intensely I feel the urgent need of a thorough regeneration* to be effected within me, of a powerful effusion* of strength, of confidence, of the Divine Spirit in my yearning soul before I rise to take my destined place In the forefront of a Movement that advocates* such glorious principles. I know that He will not leave me to myself, I trust in His guidance and believe in His wisdom, but what I crave* is the abiding conviction and assurance
that He will not fail me. The task is so overwhelmingly great, the realization of the inadequacy of my efforts and myself so deep that I cannot but give way and droop whenever I face my work... (pp. 43)
The above is from a letter written to a friend one month after his return to Haifa from England. Shoghi Effendi remained in Haifa a few months while the Greatest Holy Leaf informed the Bahá'í world of his appointment as Guardian, resulting in a great wave of love and loyalty from Bahá'ís everywhere, but alas, also fanning the hatred and jealousy coming from the Covenant-breakers.
.......... Like a hydra-headed* monster, each head hissing more venomously* than the other, they reared up and struck at the young successor of the Master. `Abdu'l-Bahá's half-brother Muhammad-`A1i,his brother, his sons and his henchmen;* the perennial* enemies of the Faith in Persia; the disaffected,* the lukewarm, the ambitious — wherever they were and whoever they were — began to stir up trouble.... (pp. 51)
.......... ... the strain of this was more than he could bear. He appointed a body of nine people to act tentatively as an Assembly and we find that on 7 April 1922 this body enters in its records that a letter has been received from the Greatest Holy Leaf in which she states that `the Guardian of the Cause of God, the chosen Branch, the Leader of the people of Baha, Shoghi Effendi, under the weight of sorrows and boundless grief, has been forced to leave here for a while in order to rest and recuperate,* and then return to the Holy Land to render his services and discharge his responsibilities.' She goes on to say that in accordance with his letter, which she encloses, he has appointed her to administer, in consultation with the family of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and a chosen Assembly, all Bahá'í affairs during his absence.... (pp. 56-7)
Shoghi Effendi thus displayed his love for and trust in the Greatest Holy Leaf to such a degree that he temporarily placed the guidance of the Bahá'í world in her hands while he retreated to the mountains of Switzerland.
.......... It all looked very calm on paper but behind it was a raging storm in the heart and mind of Shoghi Effendi.... He left with his cousin and went to Germany to consult doctors. I remember he told me they found he had almost no reflexes, which they considered very serious. In the wilderness, however, he found for himself a partial healing, as so many others had found before him.
.......... In the early years after `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, although Shoghi Effendi often travelled about Europe with the restless interest of not only a young man but a man haunted by the ever-present, towering giants of his work and his responsibility, he returned again and again to those wild, high mountains and their lofty solitude. (pp. 58)
Shoghi Effendi Becomes the Guardian
.......... In the autumn of 1922 the Greatest Holy Leaf, deeply distressed by Shoghi Effendi's long absence, sent members of his family to find him and plead with him to come back to the Holy Land. In the street of a small village in the mountains, as he returned in the evening from one of his all-day walks, Shoghi Effendi, to his great surprise, found his mother looking for him; she had come all the way from Palestine for this purpose, accompanied by another member of the Master's family; with tears she informed him of the distress of Bahiyyih Khanum, the family and friends and persuaded him to return and assume his rightful place. (pp. 63)
The Guardian returned to the Holy Land, arriving on 15 December. On the next day he sent a pile of cables to practically the entire Bahá'í world. From then onwards, for almost thirty-five years, he carried the immense responsibilities of Guardianship: dealing with the Covenant-breakers, answering the flood of correspondence from both believers and institutions, translating the Writings into faultless English, inspiring and informing the Friends with his own letters and books, cabling instructions throughout the globe, training the budding institutions in the purpose and conduct of the Administration,
protecting and beautifying the Bahá'í properties, completing the Shrine of the Bab, erecting the Archives building and placing the Monuments over the resting-places of the sister, the mother, the brother and the wife of `Abdu'l-Bahá, greeting and inspiring the pilgrims, supervising personally the costs of every phase of the development of the Faith in the Holy Land and advising the rest of the Bahá'í world regarding the purchase of Bahá'í properties, guiding the Hands of the Cause of God, devising world-embracing teaching plans with detailed maps based on `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan. The list is endless, and the rest of this book will deal with most of them.
During all this time the Guardian lived simply in an apartment built above `Abdu'l-Bahá's house, RuhiyyihKhanum joining him as his wife on 24 March 1937. He always lived with his work, his bed and his desk being in the same room. When he travelled, he almost always went third class. All of his time was given to his ever-growing work for the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Those who saw the amount of work he did each day realized that it was only through the power of God that a man could accomplish so much day after day, year after year. Towards the end of his ministry, he appointed twenty-seven Hands of the Cause whom he called `the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic world commonwealth', thus firmly establishing the agency ordained by Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá for the protection and propagation of the Bahá'í Faith.
.......... All through the Guardian's ministry we see the light of Divine Guidance shining on his path, confirming his decisions, inspiring his choice. (pp. 130)
He went to London with Ruhiyyih Khanum on business, taking his Ten-Year Crusade maps with him to work on. When the Guardian suffered a coronary thrombosis and passed away in London on 4 November 1957, after contracting Asian 'flu, the entire Bahá'í world mourned — their `true brother' had left them. But he had not left them unguided. Faithful to the Covenant, the Bahá'ís turned to the Chief Stewards, completed the Guardian's Ten-Year Crusade Plan, and brought into being the long-awaited divinely-guided Institution, the Universal House of Justice.
Today, the Universal House of Justice continues to refer to
the writings of the Guardian before taking any action in guiding the Bahá'í world. The Institution of the Guardianship lives on in the writings and interpretations of Shoghi Effendi. And the Guardian's resting-place in England is a place of pilgrimage, where the eagle which sits on the top of the marble column triumphantly faces towards Africa.
Africa was greatly blessed by Shoghi Effendi. He visited north Africa several times, and twice travelled in the southern and central parts.
The first journey south was in 1929, and the second was during the Second World War. Shoghi Effendi, Ruhiyyih Khanum and her father, Sutherland Maxwell, were in England in 1940 and when Italy entered the war, they found it impossible to get back to the Holy Land via the direct route. Ruhiyyih Khanum explains:
.......... We had almost as much difficulty getting out of England as we had had getting into it. It was the time of the great `evacuate the children' drive which had top priority and it was only due to the position of Shoghi Effendi, and my father's friendship with the man who was Canadian High Commissioner in London, that we succeeded in getting passage for South Africa, sailing for Cape Town on the SS Cape Town Castle on 28 July.... Although Shoghi Effendi had crossed Africa once before, early in his Guardianship — sailing from England in September 1929 and proceeding, mostly overland, from Cape Town to Cairo — he had not been able at that time to obtain a visa for the Belgian Congo which for some reason always fascinated him. His venturesome spirit, his love of scenic beauty, attracted him to the high mountains and deep jungles of the world, and had led him to make his previous trip. Now, by some strange miracle, in the very middle of the war, we were able to get a visa for the Congo. (pp. 180)
.......... When the SS Cape Town Castle docked in Table Bay, Shoghi Effendi, Ruhiyyih Khanum and Mr Maxwell disembarked. They visited Cape Town, then proceeded by train to Durban.
Shoghi Effendi was too concerned over my father's health (he was sixty-six and frail) to let him accompany us overland and so we had deposited* him safely in a hotel in Durban pending his ability to secure air passage. The waiting list was long and non-government and non-military people were constantly off-loaded in favour of those with top priority. It was during these weeks of waiting that he designed my mother's tombstone which incorporated not only his and my ideas but a valuable suggestion for its beautification made by Shoghi Effendi himself. (pp 180)
From Durban, Ruhiyyih Khanum and Shoghi Effendi went to Johannesburg where they stayed over, and then went on to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. Shoghi Effendi loved the power and majesty of these Falls and eagerly showed them to Ruhiyyih Khanum.
.......... ... When we reached Stanleyville and made an excursion into the deep virgin jungle, I realized that it was Shoghi Effendi's love of natural beauty that had been one of the reasons which had led him there; he wanted to see the flowering jungle. Alas, it was neither the place nor the season for this and we went on our way disappointed....
.......... After a three-day drive from Stanleyville to Juba, in the Sudan, followed by a trip down the Nile by boat, the Guardian and I arrived in Khartoum — as far as I am concerned the hottest place on earth — and as we sat on the porch of our hotel after dinner, up out of the dark came a group of air passengers to spend the night, and with them Mr W S Maxwell! It was a strange fluke* indeed that brought us together in the heart of Africa and it was also very reassuring as neither of us had the faintest idea where the other was and no way whatsoever of getting in touch. In Durban Shoghi Effendi had simply instructed my father to go to Palestine, to a hotel in Nazareth and wait for us there, when we could all three return to Haifa together. (pp. 180-1)
Ruhiyyih Khanum closes her account of this episode* in the life of Shoghi Effendi with these words:
.......... ... Although Shoghi Effendi never visited the Western Hemisphere and never went farther east than Damascus it is interesting to note he twice traversed* Africa from south to north. (pp. 181)
2 The Station and Personality of Shoghi Effendi
It is easy to quote the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá to define the station of Shoghi Effendi. It is contained in one sentence:
.......... O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan [Branches], the Afnan [Twigs] of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands [pillars] of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi — the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness, — as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause of God. . . (WT 11)
To understand the first part of this sentence one needs to know that the Aghsan are the family of Bahá'u'lláh, the Afnan are the family of the Bab, the Sacred Lote-Tree is the holy family, and the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees are the family of the Bab and the family of Bahá'u'lláh. These two families were united through the marriage of Mirza Hadi and Diya'iyyih Khanum, which resulted in the birth of their son, Shoghi Effendi.
But how does one explain the last part: `as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause of God'?
The `chosen branch' is easy. Shoghi Effendi was one branch of the tree of the holy family, and he was the branch divinely chosen by `Abdu'l-Bahá. But what does it mean to be `the sign of God' and the `guardian of the Cause of God'?
This is what Shoghi Effendi himself had to understand, and this is why he left his home in `Akka and withdrew to live alone in Switzerland for eight months. He had to meditate and understand the true significance of his own station and fight with himself to accept the responsibility placed upon him.
One day in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi spoke to Hand of the
Cause Leroy Ioas about this. He said, `I left the Holy Land and I went up into the mountains of Switzerland and I fought with myself — until I conquered myself. Then I came back and I turned myself over to God, and I was the Guardian.'
.......... [1. These words from a tape by Leroy Ioas are not necessarily the exact words of the Guardian. Mr Ioas goes on to summarize the rest of the Guardian's statement as follows: `Every Bahá'í in the world, every person in the world, must do exactly the same thing. Whether you're a Hand of the Cause, whether you're a Knight of Bahá'u'lláh, whether you're a member of a National Assembly, whether you're a teacher, a pioneer, whether you're an administrator, regardless of what you are, whatever you are in the Cause, every Bahá'í mus fight with himself and conquer himself. And when he's conquered himself, then he becomes a true instrument for the service of the Cause. And not until then, and he won't achieve his great success until he has done it.']
But there's that word Guardian. What does it really mean? Ruhiyyih Khanum offers this explanation:
.......... ... Guardian is a very weak English equivalent for what the original Arabic `Valiyy-i-Amru'llah' means, Defender of the Faith, Leader, Commander-in-Chief ... (pp. 410)
Obviously, Shoghi Effendi, in his translation of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá had modestly chosen the mildest form of the word he could think of to use as his title. He simply called himself the Guardian, and became loved as everyone's `beloved Guardian'.
The Sign of God
Now let us try to understand the phrase `the sign of God'. This is a title which every Bahá'í tried to understand during the Guardian's lifetime. Many people who knew him tried to explain it.
To help us, again we quote from Mr loas, who spent many years with him in Haifa:
.......... The Guardian was like a generator of spiritual power. You could feel this spiritual power penetrating throughout your very being ... The power and unerring* guidance of God descended upon Shoghi Effendi at all times. In all the things he did, in all his actions and deeds, you could see the supreme guidance which he was receiving in carrying out the Bahá'í work. (IOAS TAPE)
It is difficult to speak of the Guardian's station without referring to his personality, for his personality revealed his station. Another person who worked closely with the Guardian for many years in the construction of the Shrine of the Bab and the Archives building was Hand of the Cause Ugo Giachery. In his memories of Shoghi Effendi he gives us the precious description:
.......... 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 circumstances, 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. (SE 20)
In a simpler way he said the same thing when he described Shoghi Effendi as
.......... ... the purest channel between man and eternity, between all the Prophets of God and His children. (SE 23)
Fortunately, we have many insights from his wife, Ruhiyyih Khanum. In the published portions of her diary we find a number of observations which help us:
.......... He is the Guardian and the nature of his relation to God is naturally a mystery. He can grasp any mystery, he can interpret the most mystical passages of the Faith, he can
write things that are of a profoundly* mystical nature — he is motivated to do so. (pp. 82)
.......... ... this is the Guardian ... he is made exactly to fulfil the needs of the Cause — and consequently the planet itself — at this time. (pp. 83)
.......... ... something in him, far deeper than intelligence or any outward information he may have, registers the state of the individual, registers things even the individual may not yet be aware of.... (pp. 82)
One hesitates to record the many descriptions of Shoghi Effendi because they may not do justice to the real person, but Ruhiyyih Khanum opens the way when she says
.......... Although Shoghi Effendi must forever be a mystery in his essence to every being in this world — until the day comes when a new Manifestation of God, being superior, may choose to interpret him to us who are so far inferior — nevertheless we know much of him and have the right to preserve the memory tenderly, if inadequately. (pp. 83)
Feeling thus released, let me quote a number of descriptions of his personality, characteristics and qualities. Leroy Ioas described him as
.......... small, delicate, refined, not a man sitting there, but a spirit. Smaller than `Abdu'l-Bahá, eyes like the Bab, hands like Bahá'u'lláh ... Shoghi Effendi was a new definition of humility. He never referred to `the days of Shoghi Effendi', but always `the days after `Abdu'l-Bahá' ...
.......... The Ten-Year Crusade was not his Plan, but the task God had given him to do ...
Ugo Giachery's book Shoghi Effendi is a mine of insights and observations from which I quote a few gems:
.......... 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. (SE 19-20)
.......... 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. (SE 24)
Perseverance* and generosity were two more characteristics of the Guardian.
.......... 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* . . . (SE 25)
.......... ... 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.... 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.*(SE 26-7)
Pilgrims almost always brought him gifts. They varied from personal things to large 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. (SE 27)
During all his life, Shoghi Effendi avoided luxury and comfort. He felt most happy when expressing this self-discipline. He was very thrifty in his personal needs which made it possible for him to be generous in other ways. Thrift seems to have been a natural characteristic. Keith Ransom-Kehler wrote:
.......... ... The poorest boy in America struggling for an education would consider himself hardly* used to have no more than those bare necessities which this young man voluntarily chooses for himself. (SE 192)
For even more examples of the qualities and actions of Shoghi Effendi, one can read for hours and enjoy Ruhiyyih Khanum's tender and insightful stories in The Priceless Pearl. Keeping in mind the Arabic meaning, `Commander-in-Chief, one of my favourite descriptions comes near the end of that book:
.......... Shoghi Effendi was a spiritual general leading a spiritual army to win spiritual prizes ... (pp. 401)
And then Ruhiyyih Khanum goes on to describe his practical plans for campaigns taken from time-tested military methods:
.......... ... organize your forces, conceive* your strategy,* attack your goal, occupy the position, keep your communications* open to your base, bring up reinforcements,* establish garrisons* in the conquered territory, muster* your forces and start the next campaign.* As the armies of brilliant leaders get more and more experience the lull* between campaigns diminishes.* This was equally true of Shoghi Effendi's Plans. (pp. 401)
We shall describe his teaching plans later, and examine the methods he used as an example to us today. But to round out the personality of Shoghi Effendi for us, here are a few more human and humorous sides to his character.
Unlike some people who emphasize their status, he never referred to his very special ancestors:
.......... ... He accepted the Guardianship, not as a mere hereditary right, but as the most priceless trust any human being could receive. (SE 40)
Many people brought their personal problems to him.
.......... ... 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.* (SE 41)
He designed the gardens around the Shrines and watched over their development himself.
.......... ... Assisted by his chauffeur, who carried a ball of string and some wooden pickets,* he traced* all the paths, nine in number ...
.......... Guided by the strings which marked the paths, some of the gardeners dug small trenches. . . (SE 127)
Alain Locke describes another aspect of Shoghi Effendi's gardening:
.......... Shoghi Effendi was a master of detail ... of the plans for the beautifying and laying out of the terraces and gardens. They were important because they all were meant to dramatize the emotion of the place and quicken the soul even through the senses. (SE 191-2)
The perfume of the jasmine was a favourite of his. Dr Giachery knew it.
.......... That day before leaving, I gathered some jasmine blossoms, and that night I put them in a small vase which I placed in front of the Guardian at the dinner-table. There was no need for words on his part; he looked pleased and deeply moved. He searched my eyes with his luminous gaze,* smiled, raised the flowers to his nostrils* and with much delight breathed in the strong scent.* (SE 146-7)
Ruhiyyih Khanum gives us examples of some of his favourite pieces of architecture: the Parthenon, the cathedral of Milan, the Alhambra in Seville, the Signoria in Florence. He liked Japanese lacquer and Chinese carved teak wood. He was an excellent and artistic photographer. He was fond of the music of Mozart. These are hints of the artistic side of his personality.
.......... [2. See PP 142-3]
Ruhiyyih Khanum tells us the small domestic fact that when he was in England as a student he bought an iron to press his own clothes. As Guardian he supervised the costs of every development in the Bahá'í world carefully to make certain that everything purchased or planned was done in the most economical way to get the best results.
Amongst a few others, there were two things he didn't like. May Maxwell observed:
.......... The spirit of criticism is abhorrent* to Shoghi Effendi. (SE 191)
.......... And her daughter added that he disliked abstractions.*
temperamentally Shoghi Effendi is a doer, a builder, an organizer, and loathes abstractions! ...
.......... ... now is not the time to dwell on the esoteric* part of the teachings — on the contrary, _we must be ACTIVE and positive, and get the Ten Year Crusade completed_. (pp. 81)
Here's another small human detail: Shoghi Effendi had very little feeling for machines, but he rode a bicycle over the many passes in Switzerland, and he used a typewriter for his books and letters.
From all the things I have read in pilgrim's notes and heard about Shoghi Effendi from various people, I would like to add:
Shoghi Effendi loved nature. Whenever he felt the need for a rest it was not to the big cities that he went but to the mountains of Switzerland where he bicycled and climbed. He surrounded the Shrines with beautiful gardens which he designed himself. He constantly tested new seeds to get the right grasses, shrubs and flowers to grow in the dry climate around Haifa and `Akka. The only times he went to a city were on business. Even his trips to London were for the purpose of purchasing ornaments for the gardens. His travels to Africa were for the love of nature and the simple life.
Shoghi Effendi was an educated man but he was never really happy in the schools he attended. He got a BA degree from the American College in Beirut, but when he went to Oxford it was not to get another degree, but to perfect his English and study subjects which he thought would help him serve the Faith better, like history of religions, economics and social problems. He continued to keep up to date with the news and world developments throughout his life.
.......... [3. See BBM 82]
In spite of his knowledge, Shoghi Effendi was a man with a pure heart and intuition. He intuitively knew the depths of character and capacity of a person upon meeting him. His pure heart made it possible for him to communicate immediately with someone. This ability came naturally. It seems from stories of his childhood and youth that he always had this capacity. As time went on it developed to such a degree that he seemed to
be like a sensitive receiver of waves, or an instrument which received the most subtle kinds of spiritual communication.
Shoghi Effendi was a lover of all people, regardless of their faults. He could see all of a person's faults, but he loved that person anyway and gave inspiration to improve, not necessarily with words but with unspoken forgiveness and love. Every Bahá'í who entered the presence of Shoghi Effendi left a better person with a desire to serve him and the Faith better. Except for a few who were like stones or who were intent upon destroying him or the Faith.
He loved every soul in the entire world, and he had a special place in his heart for the African people. He admired their purity of heart, their patience, their practicality, their naturalness, their intuition, their strength, their forbearance, their long-suffering, their councils for consultation, their respect for wise individuals, their family helpfulness, their hospitality, their generosity, their music, their voices, their reverence for God. He wanted the Africans to travel and teach and show these qualities to the rest of the world.
Shoghi Effendi was a patient educator. He praised where it was deserved. He sympathized with those in difficulty. But he always called forth from the individual and the institution a fresh effort and a new dedication. He combined spiritual with practical guidance. He laid down a few basic rules, lovingly encouraged obedience to the laws, gently reminded when they were not being followed, and occasionally reprimanded those who were careless. On rare occasions he punished by depriving of privileges or rights, and in extreme cases removed a person from the Faith. Always every action was taken with patience and love, and for the benefit of the person and the Cause.
Shoghi Effendi was always ready to help. Although in his early letters to the administrative bodies he said that he would not have time to answer personal letters from the Friends, he never failed to answer any letter or cable sent to him by an individual who asked for help or advice. Over 11 800 letters have been collected from Bahá'ís who received them, and it is sure that there were many more. Even in his letters to administrative bodies and groups he would often praise the institution and
individuals in the community, enquire about a person's condition, or send a message for delivery. And when a teacher or administrator died, he would often send a message of sympathy and praise to the family.
How did the Bahá'ís respond to Shoghi Effendi?
They not only turned to him because he was the appointed Guardian as a continuation of the Covenant, but they soon came to love him. Some people turned to him as a father, others as their friend and brother. To many his word was absolute law in their lives. He became their authority who helped them sort out the priorities in their lives. They turned to him in gratitude for continuing divine guidance in a confused world. It seems that everyone who met the Guardian found in him what they most needed.
Here is what Enoch Olinga, later Hand of the Cause, wrote Shoghi Effendi, revealing his utter devotion to him:
.......... I must first thank my Well-Beloved Guardian for continually praying for my spiritual welfare as well as of those who are now serving the Ancient Beauty, and for the Beloved Guardian's guidance, without which the present spiritual achievements of our beloved Faith would not have been possible.
.......... Furthermore, I very humbly beg to assure my dearly loved Guardian of my unreserved loving devotion to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, and my submissiveness to every one of the Guardian's admonitions in the way of promoting the fundamental interests of our Faith, which is now overshadowing the entire world. May I also be permitted to express the joy and delight which the letters received by the individual Bahá'ís from the Beloved Guardian have brought to the hearts of all the believers of this nascent community. These letters, like the fervent prayers of the Beloved Guardian, do wonders here. Our daily prayer and hope is that God, the All-Compelling, the All-Protecting may prolong the days of our Beloved Guardian's unbroken service to His Cause and mankind.
.......... As my Beloved Guardian may be aware, an Assembly was elected here last Ridvan, and through Beloved's
Grace the coming Ridvan may bring us a number of local Assemblies. I have just returned from a two weeks' teaching trip which took me right inside the country where I had quite thrilling and exciting experiences; especially when I had to live among the villagers who believe in witchcraft and potency of `Juju' (fetish, I think) practices. Quite terrifying it was to hear very frightful stories told by `Juju' adherents, but with much confidence in Bahá'u'lláh I was never deterred. Fortunately enough a few of them were enabled to see the Truth of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh — may my life, soul and spirit be a sacrifice unto the lowliest of His servants!
.......... It may please my Beloved Guardian to know that ten new centres have been opened to the Faith, making a total of twelve centres in British Cameroons. We want to develop all the eleven towards Assembly status before the next Ridvan. We really need our Well-Beloved Guardian's special prayers for success in this somewhat ambitious project.
.......... We receive very encouraging letters from all our five pioneers who have gone to open virgin territories. They all seem very happy there and are waiting for the doors of success to be opened for them. We all hope and pray that in time they will find jobs they can do. This is not only because they will thereby be able to support themselves, but also because they will feel so much more happy and settled when they have jobs of work to do. They will take root and feel they belong. We always encourage them to remain there as much as we can when we write to them.
.......... My Well-Beloved Guardian may be interested to know that the number of believers is increasing very rapidly in British Cameroons. The present situation is: accepted believers, up to 30; declarations, up to 40; centres now opened to the Faith, 12.
.......... Please, my Beloved Guardian, I know how much busy you are, therefore I shall not dwell on inconsequentialities.
.......... I very reverently beg to send my loving greetings and best wishes to my Beloved Guardian and all members of family.
.......... With warmest Bahá'í Love from Victoria believers,
.......... I beg to remain
.......... my Beloved Guardian,
.......... Your devoted servant,
.......... Enoch Olinga (BW xviii 624-5)
Inadequate as they are, these are attempts by those who loved him to describe the man in all his humanity, and as the chosen Branch, the Guardian, the sign of God on earth.
David Hofman, retired member of the Universal House of Justice, lifts us out of the ordinary and places him in historical perspective for us:
.......... [He was] the one human being in all history, whether of the past or of the future, to have the greatest influence on the shaping and the modus* operandi of human society, for he is the one who understood the vision of the Revealers and expounded* and applied their intention* in practical terms to the organization of the world. (From a tape of a talk written by David Hofman and read by May Bolleiro at a Bahá'í Studies Conference)
What did Shoghi Effendi Accomplish?
Before we continue the story of Shoghi Effendi let us make a list of his major accomplishments. This will help us understand how the Guardian used his God-given creative and executive skills during his 36 years of Guardianship. This is just a list, some of which will be explained in detail in the rest of this story.
He built and nurtured the Bahá'í Administrative Order
Established the Faith in over 4200 localities in 251 territories of the world with over 1000 local Spiritual Assemblies.
Guided the formation and strengthening of 26 National Spiritual Assemblies, a total which was lifted to 50 by the end of the Ten Year Crusade.
Appointed and guided a body of Hands of the Cause of God, naming them `the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth'.
Created the institution of the Auxiliary Boards to assist the Hands of the Cause.
Started the development of a Secretariat* by creating the International Bahá'í Council as a temporary body.
Began carrying out the goals of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan through the First Seven Year Plan, the Second Seven Year Plan, other Plans and the Ten Year Crusade.
Began a series of Intercontinental Teaching Conferences.
Clarified the role of the Hands of the Cause as `the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth' before his passing.
He expanded and beautified the Bahá'í properties in the Holy Land
Completed the Western Pilgrim House
Completed the Shrine of the Bab
Completed the Archives Building
Repaired the Mansion of Bahji
Beautified the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh
Transferred the graves of the Greatest Holy Leaf (sister), Navvab (mother), the Purest Branch (brother) and Munirih Khanum (wife) of `Abdu'l-Bahá near to the Shrine of the Bab
Marked out the place for the Arc on Mount Carmel, `the seat of God's throne'.
Purchased properties surrounding the Shrines in the names of nine National Spiritual Assemblies, thus increasing the size of land around the Shrine of the Bab from 10 000 square metres to 230 000, and around the Shrine of Baha'u'lhih from 1 000 to 257 000 square metres
Purchased land on Mount Carmel for the erection of a Bahá'í Temple
Secured from the government of Israel firm legal rights to all Bahá'í properties at the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, that is
Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji
Shrine of the Bab on Mount Carmel
The Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji
House of `Abbud in `Akka
House of `Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa
Ridvan Garden and the gardens next to it
Oriental Pilgrim House on Mount Carmel
Secured exemption from municipal and national taxes for all Bahá'í properties
Beautified the areas around the Shrines with formal gardens designed by himself.
He defeated the Covenant-breakers in the Holy Land
Removed the Covenant-breakers from the Haram-i-Aqdas* through an order of the Supreme Court of Israel
He maintained cordial relations with the non-Bahá'í world
Built up a strong relationship with the British authorities in the Mandate of Palestine and with the newly established State of Israel
Maintained courteous and friendly relations with royalty, government officials, statesmen, educators and other prominent people
Maintained contact with many non-Bahá'í organizations, including the Universal Congress of Esperantists
Followed in `Abdu'l-Bahá's footsteps by contributing to the needy in time of calamity
Secured recognition of Bahá'í Marriage Certificate on the same footing with Jews, Christians and Muslims in Israel
He united the East and the West through his marriage
He married Mary Maxwell of Canada, today known as Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum.
He educated and guided the Bahá'í world
Through the publication of his own book, IO translations, and numerous short and long letters (published separately or as compilations: See Chapter 4)
Through a steady flow of correspondence with hundreds of individual Bahá'ís in various parts of the world
Through daily contact with pilgrims at tea and dinner.
In summary, Shoghi Effendi was an explainer, a constructor, a designer, a publicizer, a protector, a developer, a writer, a translator, an executive, an administrator, an historian, a lover of mankind, the leader and defender of the Faith, the commander-in-chief, the Guardian.
3 Beginnings of the Administrative Order
How did the Guardian accomplish these unbelievable victories in only 36 years? Did he do it all by himself?
No, he saw at the beginning that he needed helpers, and while the individual teachers went into the field from 1922 onwards, he looked into the Will and Testaments of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, as well as the other parts of their teachings, and began to develop the necessary administration which would organize first the teaching work and then the affairs of the entire planet.
In the most natural way he turned to the American Bahá'ís. On 21 January 1922, only a few days after he learned of his appointment as Guardian of the Cause of God, he wrote to them:
.......... Dearly beloved brethren and sisters in `Abdu'l-Bahá:
.......... At this early hour when the morning light is just breaking upon the Holy Land, whilst the gloom of the dear Master's bereavement* is still hanging thick upon the hearts, I feel as if my soul turns in yearning love and full of hope to that great company of His loved ones across the seas, who now share with us all the agonies of His separation.
.......... How well I remember when, more than two years ago, the Beloved Master ... suddenly broke the silence and said: `My work is now done upon this plane; it is time for me to pass on to the other world.'... In a Tablet sent to Persia... He reveals the following: `...Gradually whatsoever is latent* in the innermost* of this Holy Cycle shall appear and be made manifest,* for now is but the beginning of its growth ... Ere the close of this Century and of this Age, it shall be made clear and manifest how wondrous was that Springtide and how heavenly was that Gift!' .
.......... ... Should we in this spirit arise to serve Him, what
surer and greater promise have we than the one His Glorious Father, Bahá'u'lláh, gives us in His Most Holy Book: `Verily, We behold you from Our Realm of Effulgent Glory, and shall graciously aid whosoever ariseth for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Celestial Concourse* and a company of Our chosen angels.' (BA 15-6)
In words such as these the broken-hearted Shoghi Effendi appealed to the Western believers to help them overcome their sorrow at the passing of their beloved `Abdu'l-Bahá, and to arise to teach.
He wrote again six weeks later warning the believers of the enemies within their midst and urging them to remain in unity through their local Spiritual Assemblies and the National Body. He gave them a prayer for their Spiritual Assembly meeting, quoted `Abdu'l-Bahá's conditions for effective Assembly consultation, and outlined the general duties of both local and national Assemblies.
With such thoughts he turned the administration of the Cause over to the Greatest Holy Leaf (`Abdu'l-Bahá's sister, Bahiyyih Khanum) and an appointed Assembly in Haifa, and left the Holy Land to go into retreat in Germany and Switzerland for almost eight months.
Immediately upon his return to Haifa he wrote letters full of vigour and confidence to the Bahá'ís in America and other parts of the world, mentioning also that the Covenant-breakers were beginning to strike from various places, but asking the friends not to worry for a moment about such activities.
One week later, the Guardian directed his first letter to the American National Spiritual Assembly. He also called for the formation of the National Spiritual Assemblies of the British Isles, Germany, and India and Burma, and by 1923, they were functioning, followed by Egypt and Sudan in 1924.
During his withdrawal in Switzerland, Shoghi Effendi developed the Bahá'í Administration as we practise it today. Less than three months after returning to the Holy Land he sent the following letter to the Bahá'í world, which we quote at length so you can see how his mind worked from the very beginning of his Guardianship. This letter lays the foundation of the Administration
clearly and briefly. It is our constant reference for the rest of our lives:
.......... And now that this all-important Work may suffer no neglect, but rather function vigorously and continuously in every part of the Bahá'í world; that the unity. Cause of Bahá'u'lláh may remain secure and inviolate,* it is of the utmost importance that in accordance with the explicit* text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book, in every locality, be it city or hamlet, where the number of adult (21 years and above) declared believers exceeds nine, a local `Spiritual Assembly' be forthwith established. To it all local matters pertaining to the Cause must be directly and immediately referred for full consultation and decision. The importance, nay the absolute necessity of these local Assemblies is manifest* when we realize that in the days to come they w111 evolve into the local House of Justice, and at present provide the firm foundation on which the structure of the Master's Will is to be reared in future.
.......... The matter of Teaching, its direction, its ways and means, its extension, its consolidation, essential as they are to the interests of the Cause, constitute* by no means the only issue which should receive the full attention of these Assemblies. A careful study of Bahá'u'lláh's and `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets will reveal that other duties, no less vital to the interests of the Cause, devolve* upon the elected representatives of the friends in every locality.
.......... It is incumbent* upon them to be vigilant* and cautious discreet* and watchful, and protect at all times the Temple of the Cause from the dart of the mischief-maker and the onslaught* of the enemy.
.......... They must endeavour* to promote amity and concord* amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement* from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause.
.......... They must do their utmost to extend at all times the helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, irrespective* of colour, caste* and creed.*
.......... They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment* of youth, the means for the education of children, institute*, whenever possible, Bahá'í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development.
.......... They must make an effort to maintain official, regular, and frequent correspondence with the various Bahá'í centres throughout the world, report to them their activities, and share the glad-tidings* they receive with all their fellow-workers in the Cause.
.......... They must encourage and stimulate by every means at their command, through subscription, reports and articles, the development of the various Bahá'í magazines
.......... They must undertake the arrangement of the regular meetings of the friends, the feasts and the anniversaries, as well as the special gatherings designed to serve and promote the social, intellectual and spiritual interests of their fellow-men.
.......... They must supervise in these days when the Cause is still in its infancy* all Bahá'í publications and translations, and provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation of all Bahá'í literature and its distribution to the general public.
.......... These rank among the most outstanding obligations* of the members of every Spiritual Assembly. In whatsoever* locality the Cause has sufficiently* expanded, and in order to insure efficiency* and avoid confusion, each of these manifold* functions will have to be referred to a special Committee, responsible to that Assembly, elected by it from among the friends in that locality, and upon whose work the Assembly will have to exercise* constant and general supervision.*
.......... These local Spiritual Assemblies `will have to be elected directly by the friends, and every declared believer of 21 years and above, far from standing aloof and assuming an indifferent or independent attitude, should regard it his sacred duty to take part conscientiously* and diligently,*
in the election, the consolidation* and the efficient work-ing of his own local Assembly.
.......... Regarding the establishment of `National Assemblies', it is of vital importance that in every country, where the conditions are favourable* and the number of the friends has grown and reached a considerable* size, such as America, Great Britain and Germany, that a `National Spiritual Assembly' be immediately established, representative* of the friends throughout that country.
.......... Its immediate purpose is to stimulate, unify and coordinate by frequent personal consultations, the manifold* activities of the friends as well as the local Assemblies; and by keeping in close and constant touch with the Holy Land, initiate measures*, and direct in general the affairs of the Cause in that country.
.......... It serves also another purpose, no less essential* than the first, as in the course of time it shall evolve* into the National House of Justice (referred to in `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will as the `secondary House of Justice'), which according to the explicit* text of the Testament will have, in conjunction* with the other National Assemblies throughout the Bahá'í world, to elect directly the members of the International House of Justice, that Supreme Council that will guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement throughout the world.
.......... It is expressly* recorded in `Abdu'l-Bahá's Writings that these National Assemblies must be indirectly elected by the friends; that is, the friends in every country must elect a certain number of delegates, who in their turn will elect from among all the friends in that country the members of the National Spiritual Assembly. In such countries, therefore, as America, Great Britain and Germany, a fixed number of secondary electors* must first be decided upon (95 for America, including the Pacific Islands; 95 for Germany; and 19 for Great Britain). The friends then in every locality where the number of adult declared believers exceeds* nine must directly elect its quota* of secondary electors* assigned to it in direct proportion* to its numerical strength. These sec-ondary electors* will then, either through correspondence,
or preferably by gathering together, and first deliberating* upon the affairs of the Cause throughout their country (as the delegates to the Convention), elect from among all the friends in that country nine who will be the members of the National Spiritual Assembly.
.......... This National Spiritual Assembly, which, pending* the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, will have to be re-elected once a year, obviously assumes* grave* responsibilities, for it has to exercise* full authority over all the local Assemblies in its province*, and will have to direct the activities of the friends, guard vigilantly* the Cause of God, and control and supervise* the affairs of the Movement* in general.
.......... Vital* issues, affecting the interests of the Cause in that country such as the matter of translation and publication, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar,* the Teaching Work and other similar matters that stand distinct from strictly local affairs, must be under the full jurisdiction* of the National Assembly.
.......... It will have to refer each of these questions, even as the local Assemblies, to a special Committee, to be elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assembly, from among all the friends in that country, which will bear* to it the same relation as the local committees bear to their respective local Assemblies.
.......... With it, too, rests the decision whether a certain point at issue is strictly local in its nature, and should be reserved* for the consideration and decision of the local Assembly, or whether it should fall under its own province* and be regarded as a matter which ought to receive its special attention. The National Spiritual Assembly will also decide upon such matters which in its opinion should be referred to the Holy Land for consultation and decision.
.......... With these Assemblies, local as well as national harmomously,* vigorously,* and efficiently functioning throughout the Bahá'í world, the only means for the establishment of the Supreme House of Justice will have been secured. And when this Supreme Body will have been properly established, it will have to consider afresh
the whole situation, and lay down the principle which shall direct, so long as it deems* advisable, the affairs of the Cause.
.......... Pending its establishment, and to insure uniformity* throughout the East and throughout the West, all local Assemblies will have to be re-elected once a year, during the first day of Ridvan,* and the result of polling,* if possible, be declared* on that day.
.......... In order to avoid division* and disruption,* that the Cause may not fall a prey* to conflicting interpretations,* and lose thereby its purity and pristine* vigour,* that its affairs may be conducted with efficiency and promptness,* it is necessary that every one should conscientiously* take an active part in the election of these Assemblies, abide by their decisions, enforce their decree,* and cooperate with them wholeheartedly in their task of stimulating* the growth of the Movement* throughout all regions. The members of these Assemblies, on their part, must disregard utterly* their own likes and dislikes, their personal interests and inclinations,* and concentrate their minds upon those measures that will conduce to the welfare and happiness of the Bahá'í Community and promote* the common weal.*
.......... And as the progress and execution* of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned* upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of local as well as national Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá'í Fund be established, to be placed under the exclusive* control of the Spiritual Assembly. All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express* purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause, throughout that locality or country. It is the sacred* obligation* of every conscientious* and faithful servant of Bahá'u'lláh who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute* freely and generously for the increase of that Fund. The members of the Spiritual Assembly will at their own discretion* expend* it to promote the Teaching Campaign, to help the needy, to establish educational Bahá'í institutions, to extend* in every way possible their sphere of
service. I cherish* the hope that all the Friends, realizing the necessity of this measure,* will bestir* themselves and contribute, however modestly* at first, towards the speedy* establishment and the increase of that Fund.
.......... The need for the centralization* of authority in the National Spiritual Assembly, and the concentration* of power in the various local Assemblies, is made manifest* when we reflect that the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is still in its age of tender growth and in a stage of transition; when we remember that the full implications* and the exact significance* of the Master's* world-wide instructions, as laid down in His Will, are as yet not fully grasped,* and the whole Movement has not sufficiently crystallized* in the eyes of the world.
.......... It is our primary* task to keep the most vigilant* eye on the manner and character of its growth, to combat* effectively the forces of separation and of sectarian* tendencies, lest the Spirit of the Cause be obscured,* its unity be threatened, its Teachings suffer corruption;* lest extreme orthodoxy* on one hand, and irresponsible freedom on the other, cause it to deviate* from that Straight Path which alone can lead it to success. (BA 37-42)
Dear reader, it is my hope that as you continue to study the writing style of Shoghi Effendi, it will become easier. The Guardian was a very good teacher in every way. He even taught us to increase the knowledge of our language.
In the above quotation he has been teaching us the details of Bahá'í administration. But then he stopped and told us not to get bogged down in details, but concentrate on the most important thing, which is to teach the Faith. He goes on to say:
.......... But let us be on our guard — so the Master* continually reminds us from His Station on high — lest too much concern in that which is secondary* in importance, and too long a preoccupation* with the details of our affairs and activities, make us neglectful of the most essential,* the most urgent of all our obligations, namely, to bury our cares and teach the Cause, delivering far and wide this Message of Salvation to a sorely-stricken* world.
.......... To His valiant combatants* on earth, who at times may feel disheartened,* our ever-victorious Commander, `Abdu'l-Bahá, gives us the following assurance:*
.......... `O ye servants of the Sacred Threshold!* The triumphant Hosts of the Celestial Concourse,* arrayed and marshalled* in the Realms above, stand ready and expectant to assist and assure victory to that valiant* horseman who with confidence spurs* on his charger* into the arena* of service. Well is it with that fearless warrior, who armed with the power of true Knowledge, hastens* unto the field, disperses* the armies of ignorance, and scatters the hosts of error, who holds aloft the Standard of Divine Guidance, and sounds the Clarion* of Victory. By the righteousness of the Lord! He hath achieved a glorious triumph and obtained the true victory....'
.......... With such inspiring words as these, are we to remain any longer unmoved and inactive? His trumpet-call resounds* on every side, and summons* us to service; are we to tarry* and hesitate? His voice is calling aloud from every land; let us march on, unfettered* and unafraid, and fulfil our glorious Destiny. (BA 42-3)
What a clear understanding of the Administration Shoghi Effendi showed from the very first year of his Guardianship, when he was still a young man! The entire world Bahá'í administration has been built upon these few paragraphs of instruction, and we continue to follow them and be inspired by them to this day.
The Guardian was very loving and patient in encouraging these new National Assemblies to understand their functions and establish themselves. He understood their difficulties and sympathized, and gave them hope by pointing out their destiny, their future, to them. For instance, this letter to the German National Spiritual Assembly in 1923, while the country was recovering from the destruction caused by World War I:
.......... My well-beloved friends:
.......... What a joy to correspond with you again, and express, after a long and unbroken silence, my warm sentiments* of love and affection for those tried,* yet steadfast, lovers of `Abdu'l-Bahá! Your trials and sufferings have been a
constant source of anxiety* and painful sorrow, not to me alone, but to the Ladies of the Household as well as to the friends at large.
.......... True, humanity is today widely afflicted* with unprecedented* ills and calamities, but you, the chosen and favoured children of `Abdu'l-Bahá, have, by some wisdom inscrutable* to us all, received the fullest measure of this distress,* and are carrying the burden* of your cares with heroic fortitude,* unflinching* faith, and undaunted* courage worthy of the admiration of even the most severely tried* of your fellow-sufferers in far-away Persia.
.......... Your only consolation* lies in the ever-living words of our departed Master,* who confidently declared* that the days are not far distant when Germany will shake off her present humiliation,* and will emerge mighty, united and glorious, not only to take her destined* place in the councils of nations, but to raise high the triumphant* banner of the Cause in the very heart of Europe....
.......... I am so desirous to receive from the National Spiritual Assembly frequent, comprehensive* and up-to-date reports on the present position of the Cause* throughout Germany, with an account of the activities of the various Bahá'í centres recently established throughout that land....
.......... The members of the holy Family and myself have joined lately the resident* friends in the Holy Land in contributing towards the relief of the present distress* in Germany, and we trust our modest* efforts will mitigate* to some extent the rigours* of this coming winter in that afflicted* country.
.......... Hoping to hear from you, individually and collectively, and remembering you always in my prayers,
.......... I am your brother and co-worker (LDG 14-15)
Shoghi Effendi was also a gentle disciplinarian. Almost exactly a year later, he again asks for a report:
..........I should be so pleased to receive a general and up-to-date report on the present activities, position, and strength of the Cause in Germany together with a list of the various Bahá'í centres recently established. (LDG 19)
He then goes on to assign tasks to them to focus their attention on the priorities of the moment:
.......... Persevere* in your task, redouble your efforts, spread on to the remotest* comers of your vast* and mighty land, approach fearlessly both the high and the low, infuse* deeper and deeper the Bahá'í Spirit into every heart, and do not for a moment relax till all your land may from end to end throb* with the joy of the recognition of this Most Great Cause. (LDG 19)
Who could resist such loving counsel, especially when he closes his letter with this promise?
.......... Be assured my dearest friends of my unfailing prayers. On this day when with bleeding hearts we commemorate the passing of our beloved `Abdu'l-Bahá we remember you most tenderly, we pray for your success at His Holy shrine, and feel confident that you will soon achieve the greatest victory.
.......... Awaiting eagerly your joyful news,
.......... Your true brother (LDG 20)
Shoghi Effendi always seemed to have the ability to put his finger on the exact need in the community he was writing to. To Germany in 1923, fresh courage and inspiration were necessary after a terrible war. To India in 1923, the urgency was to address the problems of prejudice and unity:
.......... What an alluring* field of service India with all its possibilities unfolds to our eyes at the present time and how vast* are the opportunities of sowing the seeds of unity and loving kindness in the hearts of its divers* peoples!
.......... True, that land seems now unhappily to be plunged* in the darkness of prejudice, hate and mistrust, yet however dark the immediate prospect may appear, our confidence remains unshaken that ere long these mists* shall clear away, the dawn of a New Day shall break upon that land and the Rays of this Divine Revelation shall make of India a spiritually-quickened,* peaceful and united country. (DND I)
Letters just as full of insight and loving guidance were sent regularly to not only these new National Assemblies but to those of the British Isles, Egypt, `Iraq (by 1930), Persia and Australia and New Zealand (from 1934), and all the other National Assemblies formed during his lifetime.
However it was the National Assembly of the United States and Canada which received his greatest attention because it was the North American community which he used to work out the pattern and method of the Administration. He then applied it in broad principle to every other part of the world, and adapted it to suit each culture in its less important aspects. Even today there are certain parts of the Administration which express universal principles, while other matters are of secondary importance and can be adapted to local needs.
For instance, the Nineteen-Day Feast. He clearly instructed that the Feast should consist of three parts in this order: the devotional (prayers and readings from the Holy Writings), the consultative (ideas shared with the local Assembly) and the social (including food and fellowship), and that the same spirit should continue throughout the entire Feast.
But he left it to each culture to express itself within these three parts of the Feast, and said that no ritual should be developed. Thus, in every part of the world a Bahá'í traveller can expect to take part in Bahá'í readings and prayers, consultation on the affairs of the Bahá'í community, and get to know the Bahá'ís during the social time. But the visitor can also expect that the Feast will be a new cultural experience wherever he goes.
The same is true of every other part of Bahá'í Administration. It expresses a well-organized and familiar order and spirit, but always with a different flavour. Shoghi Effendi has trained us well; he has left room for and welcomed diversity within the unified Bahá'í community.
For 28 years the Guardian carried on training the Bahá'í world with the help of only one or two secretaries. His strength and health had gradually deteriorated. Eventually by 1951 at age 54 the amount of work grew beyond his ability to handle alone. So he appointed an International Bahá'í Council. He created this Council not only to help him in the Holy Land but also to prepare the way for the election of the Universal House of
Justice. The Bahá'ís of the world had been expecting the formation of the House of Justice for a long time, because it had been created by Bahá'u'lláh and emphasized by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament alongside the Guardianship. We Bahá'ís living at that time became very excited about the International Council and began to wonder when the Universal House of Justice would be elected.
Later in 1951, the Guardian appointed the first group of Hands of the Cause to serve the Faith.
By 1953, at the beginning of the Ten Year Crusade, the Faith began spreading so fast throughout the world that the International Council and the Hands of the Cause were overworked. The Guardian then created a new Institution to help the Hands in 1954. It was called the Auxiliary Board. Then it became clear that the Administration had two arms and it was going to grow. One of the arms was the arm of `rulers' which consisted of the local and national Assemblies with the Universal House of Justice soon to be elected. The other arm was the arm of the `learned', the Hands of the Cause and their helpers to be known as the Auxiliary Board. At last the Guardian would have plenty of help around the world.
Although the Bahá'í world didn't know it, the Guardian's health was growing steadily worse, and he would never see the birth of the Universal House of Justice. He died in London from a coronary thrombosis* after Asian 'flu on 7 November 1957, in the middle of the Ten-Year Crusade. Just before his passing, he sent a message to the Bahá'í world appointing more Hands of the Cause and referring to them as the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth. The work of the Guardian was complete. He had created the future world Administration of the Faith in embryo.
An embryo is the seed of an organic body, like the unborn babe in the womb of its mother is the embryo of the man or woman it is to become. This was the main function of Shoghi Effendi. He was to establish all the basic and essential parts of Bahá'í Administration as they would be needed in the future World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. And just as an embryo or a new-born babe looks very small and immature, but grows into a very different-looking man or woman, so the small and immature Administration which Shoghi Effendi left with us is gradually
maturing under the loving guidance of the Universal House of Justice.
4 His Writings
There were no word processors in the days of the Guardian. He used a portable typewriter. His method of writing was different from most.
No doubt he knew much of what he wrote would be read aloud in meetings and conferences and study classes. So, he first chanted or spoke it aloud and then wrote it down by hand. He then typed it himself. This is probably why it is often easier to understand his writings when read aloud, and why the rhythm of his writings when spoken makes them so inspiring.
The Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá also revealed their Writings aloud. This is probably why their power seems to be greater when they are spoken rather than read silently, and why they are so useful at Feasts and other gatherings.
Shoghi Effendi was not a full-time writer. But his literary output was large. So, what kind of writing did he do? . He wrote letters and cables to Bahá'í administrative bodIes all over the world.
He wrote letters of instruction to individuals such as teachers, Hands of the Cause and so on.
He wrote letters to non-Bahá'í institutions and individuals.
He wrote translations of books and Tablets.
And he wrote books.
He compiled three volumes of statistics.
He edited The Bahá'í World and selected material for it.
This does not include the more than 10 000 personal letters and cables he sent to people who corresponded with him individually and took so much of his time and energy.
Not all of his letters have been published, but many have been collected and published in book form by various National Spiritual Assemblies. We shall look at some of these now.
`Abdu'l-Bahá passed away on 28 November 1921. Shoghi Effendi arrived in Haifa from England on 29 December. `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will appointing him Guardian was read on 3 January 1922. His letters to the Bahá'í world began on 16 January 1922. Many of these have been published.
Some of his most important letters are those sent to the
National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada and other National Spiritual Assemblies, and published in a book called Bahá'í Administration. These letters laid the foundation of the Administrative Order as it developed. This book is very important to anyone interested in Bahá'í administration.
After explaining the foundation of the Administrative Order, the Guardian sent many other messages to' the Bahá'ís, both short and long. Some gave more guidance on the Administrative Order; others presented the Faith in a new way, and helped the Bahá'ís to see how the Faith would influence the history of mankind.
In this chapter it is my purpose to summarize some of these messages and give you enough in a nutshell so that you will get the main ideas in each message, but just enough so you will want to go and read his writings yourself. I have tried to write these summaries somewhat in the long-sentence style of Shoghi Effendi, so that the new student of his writings will have some idea of what to expect. You may need to use a dictionary, as I did.
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, 27 February 1929
In this long letter to the American National Spiritual Assembly, he refers to the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá and the Kitab-i-Aqdas as the divine foundation of the Bahá'í administrative organization, states that the spiritual, humanitarian and administrative principles cannot be separated, explains the necessary requirements for the election of the Universal House of Justice, makes clear the relationship between the House of Justice and the Guardianship, defines the purpose of the Administration as being the channel for the flow of Bahá'u'lláh's blessings into the community, warns against being too rigid, being biased, being ambitious, and worldly, and being too much concerned with small details, and then calls upon the American Assembly to assist the Egyptian Assembly, thereby demonstrating solidarity between East and West.
This in brief outline covers ten pages of masterful explanation, which every Bahá'í should read to understand fully.
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh., Further Considerations., 21 March 1930
One year later the Guardian's message to the Bahá'ís of the
West explains in detail the opposition which the Bahá'ís will experience from both inside the Faith and from its outer enemies. He explains the type of attacks to be launched against the Faith, and urges the believers to prepare themselves with intelligent answers. He points out the divine nature of the Administration and its firm foundation because it is based upon the written word of both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, a condition which does not apply to any other revealed religion. He reminds the friends that they have all the facts and trustworthy documents available to them to teach these principles confidently, and that this is the outstanding difference between the Bahá'í Faith and other religions. Firm belief in the divine source of the administrative institutions is the only way, he says, that the institutions will be firmly established. He calls on the believers to get a bigger picture of the Faith, deepen their understanding of the Faith, and to arise strongly to play their part in `this greatest drama of the world's spiritual history.'
This message is about fifteen pages long, and contains very important guidance which I hope you will read in the original.
The Goal of a New World Order, 23 November 1931
Shoghi Effendi gave the Bahá'ís of the West a year and a half to digest his 1930 message, and then he addressed the larger issue concerning the gradual development of the world toward world unity and the role which the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh will play in establishing it. He places his theme in the setting of the current war-weary world, points to the chaos of today's society and explains the reasons for it, reminds us that the world's leaders have no power to do anything about it, quotes `Abdu'l-Bahá's promise of unity in seven aspects of society, underlines the conditions of a world government, calls for unity in diversity, reminds us that worn-out institutions and ideas should be put aside in favour of the principle of the oneness of mankind, uses the union of the states of America as an example to show world unity is possible, warns that the world will probably have to go through a violent crisis before it will be willing to change, points out that only Bahá'u'lláh — the Mouthpiece of God for this Age — can really transform society, and reassures the believers that these ideas are now growing in the minds of men,
preparing the way for the Bahá'ís to carry out their teaching mission to mankind.
Again the length of the Guardian's message increases, this time to 20 pages. It informs the world of future events. Pre-knowledge of these events helps a Bahá'í to understand what is happening in the world today.
The Golden Age of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, 21 March 1932
Only four months later the Guardian gives the American Bahá'ís a powerful explanation of the reasons for the decline of both the Christian and Muslim religions, yet reaffirms their divine origin. He calls upon every Bahá'í to gain a deeper understanding of his own religious background and realize the need for a fresh revelation, makes clear the station of the Bab and His relationship with Bahá'u'lláh. He then introduces a different subject: the importance of Bahá'ís not taking part in party politics, and calls upon them to serve the highest interests of their country without changing any of the Bahá'í principles. He warns that they will be tempted by social conditions and people of influence to change certain principles of their Faith to gain a temporary advantage, but warns that they must not bow to such pressure. He cautions that they must obey the laws of their governments and not allow the machinery of Bahá'í administration to come into conflict with their governments. They must pay no attention to any attacks which anyone might make against the Bahá'í Administration, but rather to rely upon Bahá'u'lláh to aid them in upholding His laws.
All of this advice and these warnings are contained in 18 beautifully written pages which need the attention of every Bahá'í.
America and the Most Great Peace, 21 April 1933
A year later he reminded the Americans of the big role they were to play in establishing world peace. He emphasizes the many promises made by `Abdu'l-Bahá that America would establish the foundation of international agreement, lead all nations spiritually, and carry the Faith throughout the world. He then traces the past forty years of development of the Faith in America, gives credit to the early pilgrims who visited `Abdu'l-Bahá, the staunch faith of the American believers in times of
crisis, the courage of the early pioneers, the steadfastness of the believers when they were temporarily cut off from `Abdu'l-Bahá during the war, and their triumph over the Covenant-breakers after `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing. He doses this praise of the American believers saying, `Great indeed have been your past and present achievements! Immeasurably greater are the wonders which the future has in store for you!'
This message is 24 pages long. Why should we learn about the early Bahá'í history in America? Because it is inspiring, and much of it is now being repeated in other parts of the world.
The Dispensation ofBahá'u'lláh, 8 February 1934
This 60-page message to the Bahá'ís of the West, divided into four parts, was referred to by Shoghi Effendi as his will and testament, although it was written 23 years before his passing. It is the most concise summary of the Faith ever written, giving the essentials of Bahá'í belief. The one part of this document which was not to be fulfilled is the expectation that there would be a hereditary succession of Guardians, because Shoghi Effendi left no children and there were no faithful members of the family to carry on.
In this document Shoghi Effendi quotes more than ten pages of the Bab's and Bahá'u'lláh's own statements regarding the nature of Their revelation, `Abdu'l-Bahá's promise that by the end of this century its significance would be dear and evident, and Bahá'u'lláh's statement on the station of a true believer. He calls attention to Bahá'u'lláh's purpose of restoring the original purity of past religions, to give them life and cause them to be reborn. He promises that future prophets will continue to re-veal more and more truth until `the end that hath no end'.
Part 2 explains the station of the Bab and calls upon the Bahá'ís to teach this truth for all people to understand: that He is a fully-independent Manifestation of God and the fulfiller of the promise of all the Prophets gone before Him. At the same time He is the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh and the Announcer of His coming. The Guardian quotes pages of Writings from the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá to explain these facts.
Part 3 explains the special station of `Abdu'l-Bahá, a station never held by any person in any past religion. The Guardian makes it dear that `Abdu'l-Bahá was not a Manifestation of
God and in no way can be equal with the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. He dearly defines `Abdu'l-Bahá's station as the Perfect Example of Bahá'u'lláh's Teachings, the perfect Interpreter of His Word, the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, and much more which can be summed up in the words the `Mystery of God'. Finally, he firmly states that `Abdu'l-Bahá's Words have an equal authority with Bahá'u'lláh's, but are not equal in rank, because `Abdu'l-Bahá was not a Manifestation.
Part 4 summarizes the necessary parts of the Administrative Order and announces the close of the Heroic Age and the opening of the Formative or Transitional Age leading to the Golden Age of Bahá'u'lláh. He explains `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament as the Charter of the future World Order and the child of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, the Administration as the pattern of the future New World Order, that Bahá'u'lláh revealed its (the Administration's) principles, appointed `Abdu'l-Bahá to interpret His Word, and created the Universal House of Justice to add to and put into practice His administrative teachings. He explains the purpose and functions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. He leaves it to future generations to define and analyse the relationship between them as they mature.
At this point he says that
.......... The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere* is as authoritative* and binding* as the enactments* of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive* right and prerogative* is to pronounce* upon and deliver the final judgement on such laws and ordinances* as Bahá'u'lláh has not expressly* revealed. Neither can, nor ever will, infringe* upon the sacred and prescribed* domain* of the other. (WOB 150)
He continues by describing the Bahá'í Commonwealth of the future, the role of the Administrative Order, the independent nature of its Institutions, the difference between Bahá'í institutions and other religious organizations and government systems, and the divine nature of Bahá'u'lláh's new system.
This summary of the Faith is basic study for every Bahá'í and is necessary to understanding the Covenant. It has been explained more simply in other books, but nowhere has it been
explained more perfectly. I urge everyone to study the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, as it will stretch your vision of the Faith and your mind.
The Unfoldment of World Civilization~ 11 March 1936
Two years passed before the Bahá'ís of the West received the last of the `World Order' letters, 45 pages of summarized history of the planet, analysis of its condition and the role of the Bahá'ís in this age of transition.
He points to the `Lesser Peace' which will be established on earth by the world's governments, the gradual spiritualization of the peoples through Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, and then the Most Great Peace based upon the divine teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. He says there is no doubt about achieving the goal: the rise of a world community, the coming of world citizenship, and the creation of a world civilization and culture — the coming of age of the entire human race.
He points out the way integration will take place, the role of this generation as `the generation of the half-light', the spiritual struggle ahead, the reasons for the loss of power in certain governments and religions, the signs of moral downfall in the world, and the breakdown of today's political and economic ideas.
He then goes on to explain Bahá'u'lláh's principle of `collective security',* the role of the Bahá'í community, its coming forth as a world religion `raised high above the storms ... of the political arena.'
He returns to the theme of divine punishment for all of mankind for being stubborn and refusing to recognize Bahá'u'lláh and the birth of a new age within the peoples of the world. He reaches his highest point in these messages with a brief but powerful summary of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings — a description of society which any follower of Bahá'u'lláh can memorize and recite as a clear picture of the long-awaited Kingdom of God on earth.
These seven main messages, each one an expert explanation of a serious problem facing the world, are now published as The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. This whole book is most important for any serious student of the Faith to study. By constantly referring to it, he will be able to understand the disintegration
of today's society, see how he can live his life safely in the middle of today's chaos, and explain it to others.
Other Messages from 1932 to 1957
The Guardian wrote other messages to America and other Bahá'í communities, and in 1950 he began addressing his main messages to the entire Bahá'í world. These have been collected in a book entitled Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957. It is not possible to summarize all these messages, but they reveal how the Guardian applied the basic principles of the Faith to each culture. There is much in these messages that this generation of Bahá'ís can apply to today's situations. In the future, historians will study them in the light of the Faith in the many countries and peoples of the earth, and see how wise Shoghi Effendi was.
Shoghi Effendi knew the need for translating the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá from the original Persian and Arabic into English, for the education of the Friends and as the basis for translations into other languages. While `Abdu'l-Bahá was still living, Shoghi Effendi had been translating His Tablets into English. In fact, this is the very reason he went to Oxford to study the English language in 1920.
In addition to writing all his letters and messages, in 1923 the Guardian started sending translations to America for publication, with a prayer of Bahá'u'lláh and some prayers and Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Soon he sent the `Words of Wisdom' of Bahá'u'lláh.
Following this he worked on the translation of The Hidden Words which was published in 1925.
After these smaller items, Shoghi Effendi worked during the next eight years on his translation of the Kitab-i-Iqan (Book of Certitude) and The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil's history of the Babi Revelation. After years of working long hours, these were published in 1931 and 1932.
But the Guardian never stopped. So important was it to have translations of the sacred scripture that the next eight years saw the appearance of four more translations: Tablets Revealed in Honour of the Greatest Holy Leaf by Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá
(1933), Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (1935), Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh (1938), and Epistle to the Son of the Wolf by Bahá'u'lláh (1941).
Although these four books were the last he translated, he continued throughout his life to translate small selections from the Writings which he used in his letters and books. At the beginning of this chapter something was said about the way the Guardian did his writing. Now let us pause for a moment and listen to the way Ruhiyyih Khanum describes the way he wrote:
.......... From the beginning of my life with the Guardian until the end, I was almost always present when he translated or wrote his books, long letters and cables in English. There was nothing unusual in this; he liked to have someone in the room on these occasions to listen to what he was writing. His method of composition was new and fascinating to me. He wrote out loud, speaking the words as he put them down. I think this habit in English was carried over from Persian; good Persian and Arabic composition not only can be but should be chanted. One remembers the Bab revealing the Qayyumu'l-Asma' out loud, and Bahá'u'lláh revealing His Tablets in the same way. This was the Guardian's custom in English as well as in Persian and I believe it is because of this that even his long and involved sentences sound even more flowing and intelligible* when read aloud. The length of some of these sentences was at times a cause of comment on my part; Shoghi Effendi would raise his head and look at me, with those wonderful eyes whose colour and expression changed so frequently, with a hint of defiance* and rebelliousness* in them — but did not shorten his sentence! I can recall only one occasion when he admitted, ruefully, that it was a long sentence; but he still did not change it. It said what he wanted it to as he wanted it to; it was too bad it was so long. On the other hand he liked to use a structure sometimes of very short sentences that followed each other one after the other like the cracks of a whip. He would call my attention to this variation* in style, pointing out how each method was effective, how
the combination of the two enriched the whole and achieved different ends. (pp. 197)
Shoghi Effendi wrote only one book in English during his lifetime, God Passes By. However, there were two long messages published as separate books-The Advent of Divine Justice and The Promised Day is Come. Let us look at each of these from that point of view.
The Advent of Divine Justice, 1938
This book-length letter of 73 pages was written to the American believers just before the Second World War, primarily to tell them what their destiny was to be on this planet.
In the book he pointed out the evils of the American society, the racialism, its materialism, its low morals, its corruption. And then he explained that for this very reason America had been chosen as the cradle for developing the Administration, that the American Bahá'ís must rise above these bad influences in their society and stand out as real Bahá'ís. He describes the teaching requirements, calls for pioneers, and promises that they will carry the greatest load and responsibility in taking the Faith to the rest of the world. He then promises that America will do `that which will adorn the pages of history', `become the envy of the world and be blest in both the East and the West.'
The effect of this book-letter was both to shock and inspire the hearts of the Americans into action.
The Promised Day is Come, 1941
This is another book-letter, this time 124 pages long, addressed to the Bahá'ís of the West. In it Shoghi Effendi again explains the rotten condition of the world, but places far more emphasis on the improper conduct and sinfulness of this generation. He quotes Bahá'u'lláh at length on the punishment which mankind now faces, and especially places blame on the clergy and the rulers for having paid no attention to Bahá'u'lláh's Messages, even though they were especially sent to them. He quotes significant parts of these letters, and tells what happened to the kings and rulers when they refused to pay attention. He then announces Bahá'u'lláh's judgement: `From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics.'
He repeats the idea: `The time for the destruction of the world and its people hath arrived.' `Soon shall the blasts of His chastisement* beat upon you, and the dust of hell enshroud* you.' He paints a terrible picture of difficult tests ahead and the judgement of God, and closes with the announcement of the coming of age of the human race, the establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the birth of a world civilization, the Kingdom of the Father foretold by the Son.
This is a marvellous book for those who are interested in the way God brings about changes in the affairs of men and nations when they refuse to obey His wishes and the needs of the age they live in.
God Passes By, 1944
This is the mother book of the history of the first hundred years of the Bahá'í Faith. Almost every paragraph could be expanded by future historians into another book filling in the details. Thus, we have a concentrated masterpiece and the greatest achievement flowing from Shoghi Effendi's pen.
God Passes By reviews the key features of the birth and rise of the Faith, the establishment of its administrative institutions, and recounts the series of crises which moved the Faith forward so mysteriously and with such speed from victory to victory. It reveals the broad picture of dramatic events which unrolled one hundred years of religious history so mysterious that no mind can fathom it.
There is no way to convey the majesty and the sweep and the power of this book in a few paragraphs. It is essential reading for every Bahá'í and the basic historical text for students of the Bahá'í Faith. All other books merely fill in the details.
Read it carefully, and live with it for the rest of your life.
Throughout his thirty-six years as Guardian Shoghi Effendi received letters and cables from individuals who had problems in their understanding of the Faith or problems in their personal lives for which they turned to their Guardian for answers.
Many Bahá'ís wrote to him many many times. I myself cabled him once for guidance. That was in 1950, when the American National Spiritual Assembly sent forth a call for funds to
complete the American temple. I was lecturing on radio subjects at Syracuse University but was planning to quit and further my studies toward a doctoral degree. There was a choice I needed to make. I could contribute my savings toward the temple, or I could apply them toward my education. I had tried to make the decision on my own, and had consulted a number of Bahá'ís for their views. I was a new Bahá'í and not very well deepened in the Faith at that time. In the end, upon the recommendation of one of the older believers who had written to Shoghi Effendi many times (Ella Quant), I cabled him and asked him what I should do. His immediate cabled reply was: `Advise postpone doctorate. Love, Shoghi.'
This is the way many of us in those days got our priorities straight. Those five words were never forgotten and totally changed the direction of my life. Hundreds of other Bahá'ís, perhaps thousands, had been influenced in a similar way by a few words from Shoghi Effendi.
In later years I wrote many letters to the Guardian and sent none of them. In the process of writing the letters the answers became clear because I had since devoured every word the Guardian had written and the answers were always to be found in his writings, if I referred to them and meditated sufficiently.
As you can now see, Shoghi Effendi's messages and writings are a challenge.
But if a person will take the time to improve his English or whatever other language the writings are translated into, and if he will refer to a dictionary (he used Webster's unabridged English) for precise meanings of words, the student will be rewarded with such inspiration and understanding as no other writer can possibly give him. And no summary of his ideas as contained in this chapter can ever carry the full message he offers.
Again, I would advise any Bahá'í wishing for a fuller understanding of the Bahá'í Faith as it relates to today and tomorrow to study Shoghi Effendi patiently and carefully. The rewards will be daily education for the rest of his life.
5 His Teaching Plans
It is well known that a person who wants to make use of his talents and accomplish something will make a plan or set some goal for himself. And he will discover that it is best to set a time limit, so he will work hard to achieve it. If there is no time limit, other interesting activities take his time and he can lose his enthusiasm for the goal. Along the way he has to make choices about which is more important, the goal he has set, or something else which comes along. In the end, if the goal is won, the person is happy. If it is not won, enthusiasm can die.
The same is true for an organization. Organizations must also set periodic goals if they are to move ahead with their purpose. If no goal is set, very little is accomplished. If they win the goals, progress is made and a new goal set. Everyone is happy.
Every living organization uses this same method, and the Bahá'í Faith is no exception.
In 1919 `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets* of the Divine Plan were read at the American National Convention. These Tablets were a world-wide master plan for teaching. He called upon as many members of the American Bahá'í community as possible to leave their homes in America and go to teach the Faith in Africa and 120 other countries and islands around the world.
Having a plan was something new to the American Bahá'ís. Up to the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing only a few of the friends had responded to His call. They went to Australia, Canada, three parts of Europe, North Africa and South Africa, a few countries in South America and Asia, and the island of Tahiti in the South Pacific Ocean.
But this was the beginning of the international teaching work. From 1922 until his passing, the Guardian encouraged these travelling teachers and pioneers, most of whom were women in the early days, and constantly wrote letters to them and sent cables, and received messages and reports from them in turn.
.......... [1. Bahá'ís who leave their homes to settle in another part of the world to work and teach the Faith without salary.]
Why should we study Shoghi Effendi's early teaching plans?
Because it is good to know our history. It inspires us and teaches us many things which we can apply even today. We can always learn how to plan better from observing a successful plan.
These early teachers had no experience in planning and had no guidelines to follow. What they needed was a method of organizing their teaching work. Since there was no administrative organization in the Bahá'í world except a few informally elected bodies here and there, the Guardian gave each teacher a personal plan.
It was clear to Shoghi Effendi that his first major job was to create an Administration based upon the Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá. This he did, as we have already seen, from 1922 to 1937.
In 1937, Shoghi Effendi was 39 years old. He had been Guardian for 15 years. He was to live only 21 more years. The Administration had now been developed, but the international teaching work had barely begun. So he announced his first major teaching plan and gave it to the American National Spiritual Assembly. He felt that this Assembly was now ready to take on an international project.
It is helpful to think about what was happening in the rest of the world in the 1930S. World law and order were being betrayed by three great militaristic powers: Germany, Italy and Japan. The League of Nations was falling apart because Britain France, the United States and Russia were not upholding the principle of collective security. The world was drifting hopelessly toward another disastrous war.
.......... [2. See John Huddleston, The Search for a Just Society, (George Ronald, Oxford) pages 320-1.]
In contrast, Ruhiyyih Khanum described Shoghi Effendi as a general leading the army of the North American Bahá'ís to spiritually conquer the Western hemisphere. The Guardian's First Seven-Year Plan was aimed at establishing one local Spiritual, Assembly in each state of the United States and every province in Canada, and to place at least one Bahá'í in each of the twenty South and Central American countries.
While other famous war generals were leading armies to destroy other armies in Europe, Asia and Africa, this unknown General in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi, was planning and carrying
out a campaign for the hearts of men in North, South and Central America.
The generals in the military of the different nations were inspired by national hatred and ambition, the Guardian by love and self-sacrifice. The war generals fought for dying ideas and values, the Guardian for justice and unity. He fought for a peaceful new world society and the Kingdom of God on earth. The war generals will soon be forgotten. Shoghi Effendi will be remembered forever.
It is valuable for us to note that the Guardian himself thought of his teaching plans in military terms. To conquer anything requires planning, organization and discipline. Even to conquer one's self requires a personal goal and self-discipline. And to conquer the hearts of others also requires disciplined love and action.
Ruhiyyih Khanum continues the military theme:
.......... If Shoghi Effendi was the general, undoubtedly his chief of staff was the American Assembly; it got its orders direct from him and the rapport* was intimate* and complete. But he never forgot that the glory of an army is its soldiers, the `rank and file', as he ... called them. He never ceased to appeal to them, to inspire them, to love them and to inform them that every North American believer shared a direct responsibility for the success of the Plan. Knowing how ... human nature [can be] diverted* from any purpose, he constantly reiterated* the tasks ... the responsibility ... the immediate need.... In reading over thirty-six years of his communications to the American believers it almost seems as if he had lived amongst them. Certainly they lived with him, did they but know it, in his life, his thoughts, his prayers, his plans — and his worries. But let them be comforted, they brought him much joy, gave him much hope and never caused him to despair. May their record be unblemished.* (pp. 384)
By the end of the Seven-Year Plan in 1943 the goals had been more than fulfilled, and the number of Centres raised from 300 to 1000. Victory was celebrated by the Bahá'ís with the commemoration on 23 May 1944 of the one hundredth anniversary
of the Declaration of the Bab. This spiritual conquest had been accomplished during the bloody years of the Second World War.
Ruhiyyih Khanum remembers those days when she writes:
.......... In looking back on those glorious and terrible years of the last war the success of the first Seven Year Plan seems truly miraculous.* While humanity was being decimated in Europe and Asia, while the World Centre of the Faith was being threatened with ... danger on four sides, while the United States and Canada were engaged* in a world conflict* ... a handful of people, lacking in resources* but rich in faith, lacking in prestige* but rich in determination,* succeeded in not only doubling the number of Bahá'í Assemblies in North America and ensuring* ... at least one in every state of the Union* and every province of Canada, but in completing the extremely* costly exterior* ... of their Mother Temple sixteen months ahead of the scheduled* time, and establishing not only a strong Bahá'í group in each of the twenty Latin* Republics, but in addition fifteen Spiritual Assemblies throughout* the entire area. (pp. 387-8)
The Guardian then gave the Americans a two-year rest (which they didn't notice, because they used it to make the Administration stronger), and he set in motion the second Seven-Year Plan at the American National Convention in April 1946.
This plan was organized to end in 1953, the hundredth year of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's religion. In this new Plan our beloved Guardian, still acting as the general, was still setting goals. He called upon his tested and successful army of Bahá'ís to carry the Faith to ten war-torn countries in Europe, to make the Assemblies strong in the Americas, to complete the American Temple, and to elect three new National Spiritual Assemblies in Canada, Central America and South America. This meant that the American Bahá'ís would be working in thirty countries for the next seven years. The Guardian himself gave ten thousand dollars toward the campaign, and called for a cut-back in many other activities, thus telling them to be very careful in the
way they spent their funds. He used the word `austerity'. Look it up in a dictionary. It has a very strong meaning.
The seven years from 1946 to 1953 were the most successful and the most thrilling the Bahá'í World had yet experienced. Beginning in 1948 these were the early years of my own Bahá'í life. It was a thrilling time to enter the Bahá'í community. All of us Bahá'ís were working hard. We became excited when all the goals were fulfilled, plus many more. We saw miracles take place. The Faith even spread further in Africa (and Africa was not part of the original plan). A new National Spiritual Assembly was born in Europe — the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy and Switzerland (which was also not part of the original plan). This made a total Of 12 National Spiritual Assemblies in the Bahá'í World which the Guardian could call upon to help him in the next Plan. Yes, there is always a next plan. That's how victories are won.
The Guardian was delighted and the victorious army of Bahá'ís was so happy that we were ready to march on to new victories. This was the mood the Bahá'í world was in as we approached the year 1953, and we looked forward to celebrating victory during the Holy Year.
Shoghi Effendi, our Commander-in-Chief was a general who needed very little encouragement to take advantage of such a situation, and he never rested. So the Bahá'ís suddenly found themselves with no three-year rest period as expected, but were thrown into battle with twelve plans completely organized by the Guardian — one for each National Assembly.
Instead of another seven year plan, the Guardian called upon the twelve National Spiritual Assemblies to take part in a Ten Year Crusade* to take the Faith to the rest of the world.
Every Bahá'í I knew was excited and ready to take their instructions from the Guardian. The Guardian had set his biggest goa — the purpose was to conquer the hearts of all the peoples of the world. The area to be taught was the entire planet. The work would continue for a whole decade.* This was the time limit: it would start on the hundredth Anniversary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission in the Siyah-Chal in Tihran in 1853, and would end with the hundredth Anniversary of His public declaration in Baghdad in 1863.
The goal: By 1963 the Faith was to complete the spiritual
conquest* over the entire planet by winning hundreds of other goals which the Guardian had pictured on his beautiful Ten-Year Crusade map.
In Africa 57 countries and colonies were to be taught. The National Spiritual Assemblies of the Western hemisphere were to teach in 56 of the world's territories, Asia was to teach in 84 territories, Europe in 52. The Guardian called for 130 `Bahá'í warriors' (pioneers) to enter the international field. The Bahá'ís arose with great enthusiasm. They often asked the Guardian where they should pioneer. Shoghi Effendi named specific countries, islands and territories where there were no Bahá'ís, and he described those who first arose to open them as `Knights of Bahá'u'lláh'. Very soon the pioneers were moving into these areas. And by the end of the first year the number of nations, islands and territories opened to the Faith was almost 200.
Half-way through the Ten-Year Crusade, the worn-out Guardian died. The army of Bahá'ís had lost their general. But most of the goals had already been won. His world-wide army was broken-hearted and aching with grief, but it carried on under the leadership of the Hands of the Cause of God who were themselves suffering from the loss of their Guardian.
But the Ten-Year Crusade ended with complete victory, with many more goals accomplished than the Guardian had planned for. And at the end of the Plan the Bahá'í World was rewarded with a new leader — the long-expected divinely-elected Supreme Body, the Universal House of Justice.
The general had led his armies, died in battle, and brought his armies to victory. What an inspiring example he had left for us to follow in all future Plans! Future plans would have to be organized with the same military style and enthusiasm, and directed by National Spiritual Assemblies with the same well-organized tactics. The `spiritual warriors' (the pioneers) and the `rank and file' (local warriors) would have to battle side by side in battalions of spiritual teachers. Their spiritual goal would still be to capture the hearts of the millions of people disillusioned by other armies and leaders who lead them only to disappointing material goals.
Shoghi Effendi had promised that the Bahá'ís would succeed in spiritually conquering the entire planet! The Universal House of Justice would be their new Commander-in-Chief.
6 The Gardens and Shrines
Bahá'í Holy Places and administrative buildings should be beautiful and practical. The Guardian set the example by creating such shrines and gardens and other buildings at the World Centre.
.......... The development of the World Centre of the Faith under the aegis* of the Guardian represents one of the major achievements of his life and can only be compared in importance to the spread and consolidation of the Cause itself throughout the entire globe.* (pp. 228)
This is how Ruhiyyih Khanum tells of the importance of the buildings, the shrines and the gardens at the World Centre.
Shoghi Effendi believed that the properties belonging to the Faith should be such that they would add importance to the Faith in the eyes of both the Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í worlds. Temples should be silent teachers attracting everyone to the beauty of the Faith. Local and national offices (known as Hairatu'l-Quds, the `Sacred Fold') should be attractive, well-kept and practical for their administrative needs. The shrines and monuments and their gardens should express their high spiritual feeling and make people want to be quiet and pray. The land endowments should provide an income and increase the value of the local and national properties. And the institutes, summer schools and other educational institutions should provide deepening and maintain high standards.
The Guardian spent much of his energy encouraging National Spiritual Assemblies to fulfil these goals and conditions in each country, and set the example at the World Centre.
The World Centre is on Mount Carmel and the Plain of `Akka. Mount Carmel is in the centre of the city of Haifa, Israel and is `the Mountain of the Lord' mentioned in Micah where Elijah lived. `Akka is the city across the bay, the `door of hope' mentioned in Hosea. And the Plain of `Akka is the scene of many battles over the centuries to capture the port and the ancient city.
In 1922 as he became Guardian, Shoghi Effendi took over
responsibility for the Shrine of the Bab built by `Abdu'l-Bahá on Mount Carmel, as well as `Abdu'l-Bahá's house and a home for pilgrims* in Haifa. At Bahji he inherited from his beloved grandfather unclear situation regarding the ownership of these properties which he battled to resolve until the last months of his life. He was successful in disproving claims by members of Bahá'u'lláh's family at last, and obtaining full control of the area around the Shrine and Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh and in establishing legal ownership of these properties for the Faith. The properties had been occupied by disloyal members of the family and had been allowed to fall into disrepair to the point where the buildings were falling apart. In Ruhiyyih Khanum's words:
.......... Bahji* was always Shoghi Effendi's first preoccupation* and he was determined to safeguard* not only the Shrine where Bahá'u'lláh lay buried but the last home He had occupied in this world and the buildings and lands that adjoined* it. (pp. 231)
This is how Ruhiyyih Khanum starts her summary of the steps which Shoghi Effendi took to accomplish this goal:
.......... From the time Bahá'u'lláh passed away in 1892 until 1929 Muhammad `Ali and his relatives [who were Covenant-breakers] had been in possession of this home ... which had been purchased for Bahá'u'lláh towards the end of His life. This Mansion* was now falling into a serious and pitiful state of disrepair,* stained, rain-worn its roof caving in, its once lovely rooms abandoned* or used as store rooms. (pp. 231)
The Covenant-breakers demanded of Shoghi Effendi that he repair the building, but the Guardian told them he would not go ahead with repairs until they moved out of the building. Ruhiyyih Khanum tells the rest of the story:
.......... Eventually* it seems the situation of the Mansion reached a point where the Covenant-breakers had no alternative* and were forced to comply with* Shoghi Effendi's demand. On 27 November 1929, the day before the eighth anniversary of `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, Shoghi
Effendi cabled a relative: ì... Qasr evacuated.* Restoration commenced*î, and on 5 December he wrote to one of the friends: ì...the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, occupied for about 40 years by Muhammad `Ali and his followers, has at last been evacuated* and the enclosed photograph will indicate in what a state* they have left it! Restorative work has commenced and the pilgrims are already visiting the room where Bahá'u'lláh passed away and where He passed the most peaceful and happiest days of His. life.î Two years later the work was completed. Shoghi Effendi had had the building renovated* and refurbished* in all its original beauty....
.......... I remember how, in spite of the fact that Shoghi Effendi had possession of the Mansion, he was constantly irked,* until the very end of his life, by the fact that Covenant-breakers still occupied* the adjacent* house. (pp 232)
Now that Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine and the Mansion were taken care of how was Shoghi Effendi to build a World Centre good enough for Bahá'u'lláh's world religion and the future capital of Bahá'u'lláh's world order? The answer was through patience and continuous hard work. Here is an example:
.......... During the first two decades* of his ministry* ... Shoghi Effendi had more or less close personal contact with various High Commissioners and District Commissioners* and through this he was able to win back the keys of Bahá'u'lláh's Tomb and assert* his undisputed* right to its custody,* to obtain possession of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, to receive permission to bury `Abdu'l-Bahá's closest relatives in the vicinity* of the Bab's Shrine, in the centre of a residential* district on Mt Cannel ... and, above all, through his persistent* efforts, to succeed in impressing* upon the British authorities the sacred nature of the Bahá'í holdings* in Palestine and in winning from them the exemption* from taxes, both municipal and national, which he sought.* (pp. 231)
As the Guardian was building the institutions of the Administrative Order, starting in America, he knew that suitable administrative
institutions must also be built at the World Centre. He had decided that the centre of these institutions should be established in the gardens on Mount Carmel.
Ruhiyyih Khanum describes it:
.......... This Spot was no less than the resting-places* of the mother, sister and brother of `Abdu'l-Bahá, those ìthree incomparably precious soulsî, as he called them, ìwho, next to the three Central Figures of our Faith ... rank above the vast multitude* of the heroes, Letters, martyrs, hands, teachers and administrators of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.î (pp. 259)
To make this possible it required the dignified transfer of their blessed bodies from their original graves to the Bahá'í gardens and placing suitable monuments over their new graves. These monuments were ordered from Italy in 1939, made of Carrara marble,* which arrived safely in spite of the war. After a beautiful ceremony, the Guardian cabled the American National Spiritual Assembly on December 5th:
.......... Blessed remains Purest Branch and Master's mother safely transferred hallowed precincts* Shrines Mount Carmel. Long inflicted humiliation* wiped away. Machinations* Covenant-breakers frustrate* plan defeated.... Sister brother mother wife `Abdu'l-Bahá reunited one spot designed constitute* focal centre Bahá'í Administrative Institutions at Faith's World Centre. Share joyful news entire body American believers, Shoghi Rabbani.(pp 261)
.......... [1. Rabbani was the surname given to Shoghi Effendi by `Abdu'l-Bahá. See page 23.]
The State of Israel was created in 1948. This promised a steady and stable development in the country. The world-wide Bahá'í community was maturing and growing in size. It was now time for the Guardian to expand and beautify the gardens around the Shrines of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab. This required the purchase of more land on Mt Carmel and at Bahji. He often registered these pieces of property in the names of different National Spiritual Assemblies for legal purposes. The Guardian laid out gardens on them as soon as they were bought.
Long before 1948 the Guardian had made his plans for the Shrine of the Bab. He had had three more rooms added to the original Shrine to make it square. In 1940, he invited his father-in-law, Canadian architect Sutherland Maxwell, to come to stay in Haifa. He asked him to design another building to cover the square building completely. The Guardian told him it must be a symbol of the eighteen Letters of the Living and the Bab, with eighteen windows and a gold dome as the crown. He published a design made by the architect and sent Mr Maxwell's model to show at international conferences.
The time had now come to take the next step. So, in 1948, he called upon Dr Ugo Giachery to find the right marble for the building. Dr Giachery found it between Verona and Vicenza in Italy, a marble called Chiampo, which would last for 500 years. The Guardian then gave Dr Giachery the job of having the marble cut to the right sizes and sending it to Israel. The full story of the wonderful way this was done is told in Dr Giachery's tender and inspiring memories in a book about Shoghi Effendi.
.......... Early in 1948, as soon as it was evident* that a new State of Israel would emerge* from the Palestinian territory then under a League of Nations Mandate* to Great Britain, Shoghi Effendi decided that the proper moment had arrived to fulfil the long-delayed plan of erecting* the final majestic Mausoleum* as wished and longed for by Bahá'u'lláh. (SE 68)
This project had begun in the early 1940S when the Guardian had asked Ruhiyyih Khanum's father to begin studies for the Shrine. By 1944 Mr Maxwell's model of the Shrine was unveiled. But it was 1948 when the Guardian decided to proceed with the erection of the beautiful covering of the original building, called the ìsuper-structureî. This project lasted from 1948 to 1953 when the Shrine was finished in time to celebrate the hundredth Anniversary of the birth of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh. When it was finished, Shoghi Effendi saw in it a feminine quality of beauty and purity, so he called it `the Queen of Carmel'. He also described it as
.......... ... enthroned on God's Holy Mountain, crowned with
glowing gold, robed in shimmering white and girdled* with emerald green, a sight enchanting every eye, whether viewed from the air, the sea, the plain or the hill. (PP246)
The Guardian also pointed out the spiritual significance of the Shrine of the Bab, when he described it as the centre of nine circles reaching from the outer rim of the planet itself inward to the Shrine, the heart of these circles. These circles are described by Ruhiyyih Khanum in this way:
.......... ...the outermost of these circles is the planet itself;∑inside this lies the Most Holy Land, described by `Abdu'l-Bahá as the ìNest of the Prophetsî; inside this Nest is the Mountain of God, the Vineyard of the Lord the retreat of Elijah Whose Return the Bab Himself symbolized; contained on this Mountain are the sacred precincts, the international endowment-lands of the Faith∑ it is their gardens and terraces which constitute* the Most Holy Court; within this Court, standing in all its exquisite* beauty, is the Mausoleum* of the Bab the Shell; within this Shell is the Pearl of Great Price, `the Holy of Holies, the original Tomb built by the Master Himself∑ preserved inside this Holy of Holies is the Vault or Tabernacle, the central chamber* of the Shrine∑ within this Vault is the alabaster* Sarcophagus, the Most Holy Casket... (pp. 246-7)
These are the nine circles, each one coming closer to the centre. The Centre is the precious reality, the Bab's Holy Dust. In Bahá'u'lláh's own Words: ìThe Point round Whom the realities of the Prophets and Messengers revolve.î Is it any wonder that when one visits the Shrine of the Bab that he feels the power of being at the very Centre of these nine concentric circles, in the presence of the Bab Himself?
At last the Shrine of the Bab was ready, and Dr Giachery's job was finished.. But the Guardian decided immediately to start another project which had long been in his mind. He wanted another building where the pilgrims could see the personal things belonging to Bahá'u'lláh, the Bab and `Abdu'l-Bahá, samples of the Holy Writings, and photographs and pictures
of these Holy Beings. Such a building would describe the history of the Faith like a museum. The Guardian had collected all these things over many years and had kept most of them in the three extra rooms of the Shrine of the Bab. Now he wanted to remove them and put them in to a new Archives Building which he had already designed himself, with the help of the architect Mr Mason Remey.
Dr Giachery was asked to look for someone to supply the marble for this new International Bahá'í Archives which was to become the first building of several to be built on the Arc on Mount Carmel.
Dr Giachery found the marble in Italy again, and the builders began their work, using the same kind of marble as the Shrine of the Bab. The Archives building was finished in 1957. Then Shoghi Effendi went to London to purchase some things to furnish and decorate the interior. Shoghi Effendi spent the summer and autumn looking for what he wanted, while at the same time putting the finishing touches to his World Crusade map. In November he took sick with Asian 'flu, then suffered a heart attack and died. The full story is told by Ruhiyyih Khanum in Chapter 9.
It thus became the responsibility of Ruhiyyih Khanum, in the months that followed to move the precious archive objects from the rooms in the Shrine of the Bab and other places, and put them in the new building. It was she who arranged everything in the way the Guardian had explained to her, how he wanted it to be.
As with everything else, Shoghi Effendi had set the direction and the standard, this time for all the other buildings at the World Centre. He had said the International Bahá'í Archives was the first building preparing for the establishment of the Bahá'í World Administrative Centre on Mount Carmel.
He had also planned in his mind how to beautify the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. Dr Giachery, who knew Shoghi Effendi well, expressed the Guardian's wish that when the Bahá'í membership increases and more funds are available, a Shrine even larger than the Shrine of the Bab will be built to cover the resting-place of Bahá'u'lláh. All the believers in the world will contribute funds to build this Shrine. Then, the twin spiritual centres of the Faith in Haifa and `Akka will combine their
beauty and power with a spiritual force that cannot be equalled anywhere on this earth.
Today, the Bahá'í pilgrim sees the dignified building which is the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, and can see the diagram and models of the three other harmoniously designed buildings on the Arc. He can also see a model of the future terraces* and fountains stretching from the foot to the top of Mount Carmel, and he wants to visit that holy mountain when they are complete.
And when will they be completed? Work has started to finish them before the year 2000. Shoghi Effendi's plan for the Arc on God's Holy Mountain will soon be fulfilled.
Shoghi Effendi had several brothers and sisters. Until he was thirteen he lived with his parents and the family, including his grandfather `Abdu'l-Bahá, and his uncles and aunts. They occupied the house of `Abdu'llah-Pasha in `Akka, and then `Abdu'l-Bahá's house in Haifa. After that he attended school in Beirut.
His childhood was protected and happy within a close family and surrounded by the love of his beloved grandfather. Even when he was attending college in Beirut, he was in touch with his family.
He could easily see that his grandfather had many enemies who were jealous because so many people in the community and overseas loved Him. And no doubt he could see that some of his grandfather's heartaches were cause by members of His own family.
However it was not until he read `Abdu'l-Bahá s Will and Testament `which appointed him the Guardian that he could fully understand the dangers which he and the Faith would have to face from the family, and also from those outside the family who wished to destroy the unity of the Faith.
The enemies inside the Faith lost no time in attacking the young Guardian. Less than two weeks after it was made known to everyone that he had been appointed the Guardian, a firm American Bahá'í wrote to Shoghi Effendi:
.......... As you know we are having great troubles and sorrows with violators* in the Cause* in America. This poison has penetrated* deeply among the friends. (pp. 50)
Other reports were coming from other places, and worst of all was an action by Muhammad `Ali, `Abdu'l-Bahá's half-brother, who sent his younger brother, Badi'u'llah, to forcibly grab the keys to Bahá'u'lláh's Tomb from the Bahá'í caretaker. He claimed to be the lawful custodian* of Bahá'u'lláh's Tomb.
Shoghi Effendi objected so strongly to this action that the Governor of `Akka took the keys himself and put guards at the Shrine, but refused to give the keys to either Muhammad Ali
or Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi again appealed to the government.
One of the American believers, who visited the Shrine with Shoghi Effendi in March 1922 wrote in his diary that Shoghi Effendi was greatly troubled over the matter. However, in spite of his personal feelings Shoghi Effendi calmly went ahead telling the workers where the lights should be placed inside and outside the Shrine. He wanted to prepare the Shrine for visitors and pilgrims to enjoy.
At this same moment, the Guardian learned that the government of King Feisal in `Iraq had taken control of the blessed House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, the House which Bahá'u'lláh had said would be a place of pilgrimage for Bahá'ís. Shoghi Effendi cabled King Feisal, but it did no good.
Thus Shoghi Effendi received four shocks in a row: the passing of his beloved grandfather, disobedience to the Faith in America, the keys of Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine taken by Muhammad `Ali and kept by the Governor of `Akka, and the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad taken over by the Iraqi government. This was too much for the young Guardian to face alone. He called a number of well-known Bahá'ís from America, England, Germany, France and Persia, to consult with him. Eleven arrived and most of them urged him to call for the election of the Universal House of Justice immediately so he would have help.
Shoghi Effendi had already considered the possibility of establishing the Universal House of Justice, but these consultations made it clear to him that the election could not take place until there were national bodies all over the world to elect it. So the main result was that these believers were sent back to their home countries with the message to start developing the Bahá'í Assemblies, both national and local.
.......... What this really amounts to is that Shoghi Effendi, a little over two months after he became Guardian, began to lay his foundations ... for the Administrative Order of the Faith as set forth in the Will of `Abdu'l-Bahá. (pp. 56)
The strain of all this was too much for the Guardian. This was why in April he left the Faith in the care of `Abdu'l-Bahá's sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, and went into the mountains of
Switzerland. He was following the example of all the great spiritual leaders who go into retreat for some time to gather their spiritual forces and place themselves In the hands of God.
While Shoghi Effendi was away, the fami1y continued to rebel against the authority of the Guardian. The Greatest Holy Leaf held the Faith together with her inspired letters and leadership, demonstrating her devotion to the Covenant. Eventually, after several months, the situation became so serious that the Greatest Holy Leaf sent Shoghi Effendi's mother to Switzerland to call him back to the Holy Land. When he arrived In Haifa in December, the keys to the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh were still held by the Governor of `Akka and the right to enter the Shrine was open to the Covenant-breakers and the faithful alike.
.......... [1. In those days the Covenant-breakers were family and others who fought against the young Guardian and refused to accept his position as head of the Faith.]
Shoghi Effendi also discovered that other people were opening his mail. Something had to be done, so he cabled to America telling the Bahá'ís to register their letters. He had to protect the Faith; further action was required. He wired the High Commissioner of Palestine in Jerusalem:
.......... Pray accept my best wishes and kind regards on my return to Holy Land and resumption of my official duties. (pp. 70)
He was letting the authorities know that he was back in Haifa. Ruhiyyih Khanum comments on this cable:
.......... As there must have been a considerable buzz of gossip, ardently* fed no doubt by the Covenant-breakers, about his eight months' withdrawal,* this was a carefully calculated* move on Shoghi Effendi's part, as well as an act of courtesy. (pp. 70)
It is clear that the Guardian wanted the government to know that he was still the person in control of the affairs of the Faith.
To obtain the keys to the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi contacted the authorities again and asked Bahá'ís all over the world to put pressure on them. He also contacted his cousin in Jerusalem with special instructions. What these instructions
were we do not know, but they brought results: on 8 February 1923, less than two months after his return, he received news that the keys to the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh were being returned to him. The Shrine was safe. As Ruhiyyih Khanum says,
.......... Though the safety of the Qiblih* of the Bahá'í world was now assured once and for all time, the house Bahá'u'lláh had occupied in Baghdad was still in the hands of the Shi'ah enemies of the Faith, and continues to be so until the present day... (pp. 71)
Then came new signs of more trouble within the family. In January the Guardian had written to a grandson of Bahá'u'lláh,
.......... I presume* you have gathered from past experience that I stand for absolute sincerity, scrupulous* justice in all matters pertaining* to the Cause, and an uncompromising* attitude with regard to the enemies of the Movement,* the Nakezeens,* whose vile* and unceasing* efforts God alone shall frustrate.* (pp. 70)
This letter must have been a warning because this relative himself soon became a Covenant-breaker. His three brothers also married three grand-daughters of `Abdu'l-Bahá, two of them being sisters of the Guardian. Like spiders they wove a web of family disloyalty, hatred and disobedience so great that in the end the entire family of `Abdu'l-Bahá became spiritually sick and Shoghi Effendi lost all his relatives to Covenant-breaking.
It is sad when a family is split by fighting. And in this case it was terrible for the Guardian because he himself had to take the decisions to cut them off from himself and the Faith in order to protect the Faith itself.
.......... All this causes the Guardian agony.* I am really concerned about his heart. Last night it was beating so fast, far, far too fast! And sometimes, for hours almost, he breathes heavily and quickly from being so upset ... In the end it will kill him. How and when no doubt will be according to the wisdom of God. He will always be triumphant — as he always has been. But gradually, little by little, the incessant* problems, the eternal struggle,
first with one and then another member of the family, are wearing him down. He is bent. His heart is nervous. His nerves are exhausted* ... (pp. 167)
Those words were the words of Ruhiyyih Khanum. And of course, what affected the Guardian also had its effect upon her. From her diary:
.......... I wouldn't wish on the devil the sufferings Shoghi Effendi and I pass through. I could never describe them — mental and nervous anguish* ... alone ... work, work, work, all day long. Buying land, problems, letters, questions, mischief, ill-will, suspicion, ad infinitum.*(pp. 167)
It is helpful to read another story from Ruhiyyih Khanum's diary at a time when one of the Guardian's helpers in Haifa became disobedient:
.......... Tonight a man came here. He entered the house a Bahá'í. He left it a Covenant-breaker. (He refused to obey the Guardian flatly.) He stood a long time at the gate. I wanted to cry out to him, `Do you leave your soul behind so easily?' After all these years, reared* in the Faith, he throws it away so lightly! And what else has life to offer man except his soul? And the most precious gift of God he drops by the wayside* because it is inconvenient* and difficult to obey at the moment.... If the friends only knew how the Master and Guardian both suffered through the calibre* of the local Bahá'ís. Some of them were good. But some were rotten. It's as if, when someone was unsound* in the Covenant, they attacked the very body of the Manifestation, or the Exemplar, or the Guardian. I have seen this. It is like poison. (pp. 160)
Looking at this experience and others like it, Ruhiyyih Khanum tried to explain the reasons in her book, The Priceless Pearl:
.......... The Covenant-breaking inside the family of Bahá'u'lláh was like a vine, it entwined* the tree and strangled* it; wherever its tendrils* reached out it plucked* up what it wound itself about and destroyed that too. This is why so many of the minor* relatives, the secretaries, the members of the community surrounding the Centre of the
Cause, became involved in the periodic disaffections* of various members of the family, and every time one of these diseased members was lopped* off, some blinded sympathizers* went too. (pp. 122)
Shoghi Effendi was very patient. He showed his patience in the way he handled these terrible family situations. For example, on one heartbreaking occasion he held up sending a cable for eight months, a cable putting his own brother out of the Faith. He tried for months to heal the situation so it would be unnecessary for him to send that message which was so difficult for him to send. In the end he failed, and he had to send the cable.
Eventually the family situation became so bad that for a few years, especially the years during the war, the Guardian had only Ruhiyyih Khanum and her father to rely upon in Haifa. When a beloved servant of the Guardian, `Ali Askar, titled `lion of the Jungle of the love of God' died after long service, Ruhiyyih Khanum quoted the Guardian in her diary,
.......... All I had left was you and your father and Ali Askar and now God takes Ali Askar! (pp. 165)
Why did people oppose the Guardian? One of the main reasons for people breaking the Covenant was their ambition and pride. They wanted to become leaders in the community, or obtain important positions in the Faith, or be honoured in some way. But what they didn't understand was that Bahá'u'lláh had so organized the future of His Faith that there would be no leaders. The so-called leaders are elected or appointed to administrative posts, and there is nothing like a clergy. Those elected or appointed have no personal authority of their own. Instead they are part of consultative institutions which make the decisions. Or, in the case of the Hands of the Cause and the Counsellors they act as servants rather than as points of power. The rulers of the Faith are the consultative institutions; the Hands and the Counsellors are advisers. Thus Covenant-breakers didn't understand the new day in which they were living, the day of selflessness, of humility and detachment — the day of servitude.
Covenant-breaking took place in other parts of the world also. There was a well-known Persian teacher named Avarih (the Wanderer) who was recognized as a man of great learning and knowledge. He was very talented as a writer and teacher. But he was also a man of pride and vanity and a secret smoker of opium. When Shoghi Effendi invited him to the Holy Land to discuss the future of the Faith, Avarih recommended that the Guardian should call for the election of the Universal House of Justice immediately. Avarih had ambitions to be a member of the Supreme Body, and he knew that if the Guardian called for its election then, he would undoubtedly be elected, because he was the foremost teacher of the Faith in Persia at that time and an influential personality.
When the Guardian decided not to call for the election of the House of Justice and explained his reasons to Avarih, Avarih was not satisfied and started to create dissatisfaction and disunity amongst the Bahá'ís, especially in Cairo. He even questioned the authority of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá and threatened to arouse the Bahá'ís of Persia to rebel against the Guardian.
Finally, the Guardian had to declare him a Covenant-breaker. Avarih's wife left him, refused to associate with him, and remained a devoted and much-praised Bahá'í. Later in life, Shoghi Effendi referred to Avarih as a dead body which the surging ocean of the Covenant had cast upon the shores and thus cleansed the Cause of God from pollution.
The stories of the other Covenant-breakers end the same way. They express their ego by rebelling against the Centre of the Faith, disobey its authority, create pain and trouble for the Centre of the Cause and the Bahá'í community. All attempts to create disunity fail, and in the end they are disgraced and cast out of the Faith through their own actions, and have no more influence upon anyone.
There were many other such men in the East, but also a few in the West. One of the most active was a Persian who had been a secretary to `Abdu'l-Bahá for many years and taught the Faith in the United States. His name was Ahmad Sohrab. He also wanted Shoghi Effendi to call for the election of the Universal House of Justice because he was sure he would be elected. When the Guardian called for the election of National and local
Assemblies instead, Ahmad Sohrab opposed the move. With the help of a wealthy woman, Mrs. Julie Chanler, he tried to form a new sect of the Faith and establish himself in the place of the Guardian. But he utterly failed. In the end his plans and activities brought no fruit whatsoever. But he brought much pain to the Guardian and to the American community.
The common pattern of Covenant-breakers is to claim to be sincere and devoted Bahá'ís, all the time fully aware of what they are doing. Later they reveal their true character by their actions.
Today the few Covenant-breakers who are still living have no influence. The administration of the Faith has remained in solid unity for over one hundred years, and proved to everyone the power of the Covenant.
All of these people caused Shoghi Effendi great disappointment and pain, but he told the Friends that we should look upon such things as a blessing. If some Bahá'ís deny their Faith or if Bahá'ís attack the Faith from time to time, it does no harm to the Faith. Instead of destroying the Faith it makes the Faith stronger and increases the brightness of its light. When they try to cover its light, they fail. The stories spread, and people come to know about the beauty and purity of the Faith. They discover its teachings, its strong unity, the special place it holds in the history of religion, and how respected people look up to its high standards.
The Covenant-breakers only hurt themselves in the end. Ruhiyyih Khanum sums up:
.......... It looks simple on paper. But when year after year a house is torn by heart-breaking emotions, shaken by scenes that leave one's brain numb, one's nerves decimated* and one's feelings in a turmoil,* it is not simple, it is just plain hell. Before a patient lies on the operating table and the offending* part is removed there is a long process of delay, of therapeutic* effort to remedy the disease, of hope for recovery. So it is with Covenant-breaking; the taint* is detected;* warning, remonstrance,* advice follow; it seems better; it breaks out again, worse than before; convulsive* situations arise — repentance, forgiveness follow-and then all over again, the
same thing, worse than before, recommences.* With infinite variations* this is what took place in the lifetimes of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
.......... It is all history now and there is no use recapitulating* it case by case. (pp 122-3)
In the end, Ruhiyyih Khanum feels that the main reason why the Guardian died at the early age of sixty was that his heart had been weakened by thirty-six years of struggle with the Covenant-breakers.
8 Union of East and West
In this story of Shoghi Effendi I have referred continually to Ruhiyyih Khanum's book, The Priceless Pearl. In it she often shares some personal stories and experiences in her life with the Guardian which have made the Bahá'ís feel close to him and to her. As we come near to the end of this little book, I want to share some of them with you. They are told mostly in her own words, but with a few helpful words supplied by me.
My First Pilgrimage
.......... So many memories come back to me when I think of the pilgrims, myself included, such as that dawn in 1923, when I was a child and was driving back in the automobile of the Guardian from Bahji where we had all gone to commemorate* the ascension* of Bahá'u'lláh. I insisted on sitting up on the edge of the folded-back top of the touring car instead of on the seat. Shoghi Effendi remonstrated* with me and warned me not to fall out, and I assured him I would not do so. I was too intoxicated* with the morning and all the bounties showered upon me to be afraid. In those days there was no proper road and we drove over the beach between `Akka and Haifa on the wet strip of sand between the sea and the dunes.* Hundreds of little white crabs* fled* before the car for the safety of their holes in a never-ending ripple* before us. The sun had just risen and the whole world was fresh and rosy and clean. Shoghi Effendi began to tell me about how much he longed to see the Rocky Mountains in Canada, and of his love for mountains and mountaineering.* (pp. 133)
.......... I shall never forget how he looked when he called my mother and me to his bedroom, in 1923; we stood at the foot of his bed, where he lay, obviously* prostrated* and heart-broken, with great black shadows under his eyes, and he told us he could not stand it, he was going away. It must have been terribly difficult for so young a man to
find himself the centre of so many attacks, and to realize it devolved* upon him to exercise* his right and perform his duty of excommunication* in order to protect the Faith and keep the flock safe from the wolves prowling around it.
.......... Covenant-breaking always made Shoghi Effendi ill, it was as if he were the Cause,* in some mysterious way, and any attack on its body affected him who was its heart. (pp. 118-19)
.......... I recall* how, on one occasion during my 1923 pilgrimage with my mother, there was a large meeting attended by the Bahá'í men in the central hall of `Abdu'l-Bahá's home; my mother and Edith Sanderson were seated there beside the Guardian but I had joined the women in a room opening on to it. We sat in the dark so that we could leave the door open (in those days, the Eastern men and women, following the custom of the country, were entirely sequestered*) and hear a little of what was going on. (pp. 146)
.......... The day he told me that he had chosen me to be his wife he placed on my finger the simple gold ring ... with the symbol of the Greatest Name which the Greatest Holy Leaf had given to him years before as his Bahá'í ring; he told me this should not be seen by anyone for the time being and I wore it around my neck on a chain until the day of our marriage. (pp 147)
.......... Nothing could be more revealing* of this intense* love he had for her [the Greatest Holy Leaf, `Abdu'l-Bahá's sister] than the fact that on the day we were married it was to her room, where everything is preserved* as it was in her days, standing beside her bed, that the Guardian went to have the simple Bahá'í marriage ceremony of hand in hand performed, and we each repeated the words in Arabic: ìWe will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.î (pp. 146)
.......... Surely the simplicity* of the marriage of Shoghi Effendi
— reminiscent* of the simplicity of `Abdu'l-Bahá's own marriage in the prison-city of `Akka — should provide a[n] ... example to the Bahá'ís everywhere. No one ... [but] his parents, my parents and a brother and two sisters of his living in Haifa, knew it was to take place. He felt strongly . . . to keep it a secret knowing from past experience how much trouble any major* event in the Cause* invariably* stirred up. It was therefore a stunning* surprise to both the servants and the local Bahá'ís when his chauffeur* drove him off, with me beside him, to visit the Holy Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh on the afternoon of 25 March 1937. His heart drew him to that Most Sacred Spot on earth at such a moment in his life. I remember I was dressed, except for a white lace blouse, entirely in black for this unique* occasion, and was a typical* example of the way oriental* women dressed to go out into the streets in those days, the custom being to wear black. Although I was from the West, Shoghi Effendi desired me to fit into the pattern* of the life in his house — which was a very oriental one — as naturally and inconspicuously* as possible and I was only too happy to comply* with his wishes in every way. When we arrived at Bahji and entered the Shrine he requested* me to give him his ring, which I was still wearing concealed* about my neck, and this he placed on the ring-finger of my right hand, the same finger ... [as] the one of his own on which he himself had always worn it. This was the only gesture* he made. He entered the inner Shrine, beneath the floor of which Bahá'u'lláh is interred* and gathered up in a handkerchief all the dried petals and flowers ... After he had chanted* the Tablet of Visitation we came back to Haifa and in the room of the Greatest Holy Leaf our actual marriage took place, as already mentioned.* Except for this visit, the day he told me he had chosen to confer this great honour on me, and one or two brief* moments in the Western Pilgrim House when he came over for dinner, I had never been alone with the Guardian. There was no celebration, no flowers, no elaborate* ceremony, no wedding dress, no reception.* His mother and father, in compliance* with the laws of Bahá'u'lláh,
signified* their consent by signing our marriage certificate and then I went back to the Western Pilgrim House across the street and joined my parents (who had not been present at any of these events), and Shoghi Effendi went to attend to his own affairs. At dinner-time, quite as usual, the Guardian appeared, showering* his love and congratulations on my mother and father. He took the handkerchief full of such precious flowers, and with his inimitable* smile gave them to my mother, saying he had brought them for her from the inner Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. My parents also signed the marriage certificate and after dinner and these events were over I walked home with Shoghi Effendi, my suitcases having been taken across the street by Fujita [the Japanese servant] while we were at dinner. We sat for a while with the Guardian's family and then went up to his two rooms which the Greatest Holy Leaf had had built for him so long ago. (pp. 151-2)
.......... The quietness, the simplicity, the reserve* and dignity with which this marriage took place did not signify* that the Guardian considered it an unimportant event — on the contrary.* Over his mother's signature, but drafted* by the Guardian, the following cable was sent to America: ìAnnounce Assemblies celebration marriage beloved Guardian. Inestimable honour conferred upon handmaid of Bahá'u'lláh Ruhiyyih Khanum Miss Mary Maxwell. Union of East and West proclaimed by Bahá'í Faith cemented. Ziayyih mother of the Guardian.î (pp. 152)
.......... The most significant* point ... [about] the Guardian's marriage is the stress he laid on the fact that it had drawn* the Occident* and the Orient* closer to each other. (pp. 153)
.......... The work of Shoghi Effendi, after our marriage, went on exactly as before. (pp. 153)
.......... In 1937 my father had designed* a few additional rooms to be added to the ones occupied* by the Guardian on the roof of `Abdu'l-Bahá's home. (pp. 237)
.......... When the beloved Guardian did me the great and unexpected honour of choosing me to be his wife, I had the Idea that for me, at least, all my troubles of wondering what my spiritual end would be were over. I was going to be near him. It was like dying and going to heaven where nothing more could get at me. One day ... Shoghi Effendi said to me words to this effect: ìYour destiny* lies in the palm of your own hand!î I was horrified!* It had come back to me, the life-long struggle to do the right thing for the sake of my own soul. (pp. 357)
.......... For over two months my parents stayed in Palestine, mostly at the Western Pilgrim House; although the Guardian went over almost every night for dinner with them, there was no opportunity* for any deep personal intimacy * to develop. At last the time came for them to leave and one day my mother said to me ìMary, do you think the Guardian will kiss me good-bye?î (Although everyone referred* to me by the new Persian name Ruhiyyih Khanum which the Guardian had given me, my own family were naturally allowed to call me Mary, the name they had used all my life.) I had never thought of this and I repeated her remark to Shoghi Effendi, but of course did not ask him to do anything about it! My parents were leaving in the afternoon and after lunch the Guardian went alone to my mother's room in the Pilgrim House to see her. When he had left I went to her room and she said, with her eyes shining like two stars, ìhe kissed me.î (pp. 153-4)
My Mother's Passing
.......... The years passed and in 1940 my mother [May Maxwell], animated by a passionate* desire to render* the Cause some service in thanks for the infinite* blessings bestowed* upon her by the Master, the last of which had been this totally unexpected union* of her daughter with her beloved Guardian, decided to go to South America and help in teaching the Faith in Argentina ... My mother reached Buenos Aires and died almost immediately
of a heart attack. The three cables that came, one from her asking for his prayers, one from my father saying she was very ill and to prepare me, and one from my cousin Jeanne Bolles, who had accompanied* her, saying she had died, were all handed by me to Shoghi Effendi. As he read them I saw his face change and he looked at me with an expression* of intense* anxiety* and concern. Then of course, gradually, he had to tell me she was dead. I cannot conceive* that any human being ever received such pure kindness as I did from the Guardian during that period of shock and grief. His praises of her sacrifice, his descriptions of her state of joy in the next world, where, as he said in his cable to the Iraq National Assembly informing the friends of her death, ìthe heavenly souls seek blessings from her in the mid-most paradise*î, his vivid depiction* of her as she wandered about the Abha Kingdom* making a thorough* nuisance of herself because all she wanted to talk about was her beloved daughter on earth! — all combined* to lift me into a state of such happiness that many times I would find myself laughing with him over the things he seemed to be actually divining.* (pp. 154)
.......... On 2 March Shoghi Effendi cabled Daddy: ìGrieve profoundly yet comforted abiding realization befitting end so noble career valiant exemplary service Cause Bahá'u'lláh. Ruhiyyih though acutely conscious irreparable loss rejoices reverently grateful immortal crown deservedly won her illustrious mother. Advise interment Buenos Aires. Her tomb designed by yourself erected by me spot she fought fell gloriously will become historic centre pioneer Bahá'í activity. Most welcome arrange affairs reside Haifa. Be assured deepest loving sympathy.î (pp. 155)
(Note: Briefly, this cable from the Guardian told Ruhiyyih Khanum's father that his wife had ended her Bahá'í services in a glorious way, that Ruhiyyih Khanum was sad but grateful for her mother's spiritual reward in the next world. Mrs Maxwell should be buried in Argentina where she died. Mr Maxwell was
to design her tomb and it would become the centre for pioneer work. He invited Mr Maxwell to come to live in Haifa.)
.......... It was this message that brought my father to Haifa and enabled* him, through his deep professional knowledge and experience, to become the instrument* of fulfilling the plans of `Abdu'l-Bahá by designing a suitable superstructure* around the Holy Tomb of the Bab which the Master Himself had commenced.* (pp. 155)
.......... Inside his family, with those he was familiar with, he liked to tease.* I was often the victim, and knowing that anything he said I was likely to believe he took advantage of this and enjoyed fooling* me. For instance, I remember during the war coming into his room and finding him looking very solemn,* his eyes round with concern.* This alone attracted my attention and I became anxious.* He then said something terrible had happened. I, of course, became even more anxious and asked what had happened. With a deeply concerned expression* he solemnly informed me Churchill had died. As this was the most dangerous period of the war I became very excited and upset over this news and asked him what would happen to the A1lies* now, with their great leader dead, etc. etc. Shoghi Effendi stood my distress* as long as he could and then burst out laughing! He played such tricks on me very often, as he found me an ideal subject — but gradually my gullibility* wore off and after twenty years he said it was getting very difficult to fool me. Sometimes, feebly, I would try to play this game with him, but I could never act it out as well as he could and almost never succeeded in catching him. (pp. 129)
.......... One of the ways Shoghi Effendi would show kindness to my father was by sometimes enthusiastically* rubbing some attar of rose perfume on him. In the East there is no foolish prohibition* against men using perfume and the Guardian was very fond of this wonderful fragrance.* It was really worth seeing to watch the expression* on my
Scottish father's face! He came of a background and a part of the world where the use of scent* for men is anathema.* He never even used a scented lotion. Alarm* at the thought he was now going to smell very strongly, combined* with pure joy at this loving attention being paid to him by his beloved Guardian, produced a most extraordinary* expression* on his face! (pp. 157)
.......... I never saw the Guardian settle a bill he had not first carefully added up, whether it was for a meal or a payment of thousands of dollars! If there was an overcharge he pointed it out — and also if there was an undercharge. Many times I went to astonished* people and called to their attention that their addition was wrong and they should do it again or they would be the losers. (pp. 131)
.......... Sometimes, when he [Sutherland Maxwell] had brought a new sketch* to show Shoghi Effendi, and the Guardian was sitting in bed, propped up on his pillows looking at it, he would invite Daddy to come sit beside him so they could better go over the details together. One can imagine what it meant to me to see those two beloved heads so close, one white, the other going grey at the temples! Such fleeting* moments of peace and family pleasure in the stormy* atmosphere of our lives sweetened what was often a very bitter cup of woe.* (pp. 155)
During the War Years
.......... There was often shooting all around the home of the Master, amounting* sometimes to minor* battles; no one ever shot at us or attacked us, but the danger of being hit was not to be underestimated* ...
.......... During all this Shoghi Effendi went up Mt. Carmel every day as usual, attending to his own business, supervising* the work in the gardens, visiting the Shrines and coming home before dark....
.......... One day, as he was being driven by Mrs. Weeden up to the Shrines (our Arab Chauffeur* had left the country), a car was firing* at the car ahead of it, which suddenly passed that of the Guardian and he was thus between
the two. The other car soon overtook his and went on with its private war, but one can imagine our feelings when we heard of this incident* later on! (pp. 187-8)
.......... I remember when we first went to Interlaken, in the summer of 1937, Shoghi Effendi took me to [Mr.] Hauser's house, wanting to introduce his wife to the old man to whom he had been so attached and who had listened with so much interest to the enthusiastic* account of his day's walk or climb, marvelling* at the indefatigable* energy and determination* of the young man, but we found he had died. The Guardian went to the peaceful little mountain cemetery to visit his grave, taking me with him. Shoghi Effendi often told me these stories of his early years in the mountains and showed this or that peak he had climbed, this or that pass he had been over on foot....
.......... Shoghi Effendi would tell me of how he practically never ate anything until he got back at night, how he would go to a small hotel (he sometimes took me to the same simple restaurant) and order pommes sautees,* fried eggs and salad as these were cheap and filling. (pp. 60)
.......... I remember another occurrence* which happened in Switzerland itself as we were leaving Zermatt one evening. In all the years we travelled together Shoghi Effendi did not form any personal relationships* and very rarely spoke to strangers. This was not my own nature and sometimes I would slip out of our compartment in the train, or on some other occasion, and get into animated* conversation with a fellow passenger.* He always knew (and never minded) when this happened. I think he could tell from a flushed* and tentative* expression* on my face when I rejoined* him what I had been doing and with twinkling* eyes would ask me what I had been up to.
.......... On this particular* occasion, however, it was he who held a long conversation as we sat on the hard wooden seats of our third-class train compartment. A young man,
a truly lovely and gentlemanly boy the child of White Russians living in America was seated opposite us. He was travelling for the first time in Switzerland and the Guardian with that same kindliness and animation* that so often characterized* his conversation~ proceeded* to advise him in great detail about what places he should not miss seeing in the limited* time ... [he had.] He even got out the Swiss railway guide and showed him what trains to take where to go and when. I sat back and listened, watching the fine face of the youth, so courteous so pleased at the attention he was receiving from this stranger and of course prayed in my heart that this bounty* he was receiving — which I could in no way indicate* to him — would somehow some day, lead him to the Faith of which this stranger was the Head! (pp. 134)
His Last Year
.......... The last year of the Guardian's life two Swiss pilgrims came to Haifa. Their presence stirred up all his memories of Switzerland, and his love for their country poured out in a manner wholly unlike his usual reserve* about his personal life and feelings. I had been ill in bed and not present at dinner in the Pilgrim House but when Shoghi Effendi came home he told me he had ìsaid everythingî — about the mountains he had climbed, the walks he had taken, the scenes he loved so much. It was very atypical* of him, very rare* and a clear index* of something deep in his own heart. (pp. 134)
.......... There was something strange and deeply touching about the way that last summer of his life he went back to all the places he loved most to see them once again. (pp. 61)
.......... He had been in very good health that last summer, better than for a long time, a fact that he not only mentioned himself but which his doctor commented upon at the time he examined him some weeks prior to his passing. No one dreamed that the time clock inside that heart was reaching the end of its allotted* span. (pp. 444)
9. The Passing of Shoghi Effendi
The Guardian was in London in late 1957. He had gone there to look for furnishings for the new Archives Building. He and Ruhiyyih Khanum had suffered from Asian 'flu and had recovered, but the 'flu had left the Guardian weak.
While resting before returning to Haifa he had a table put into his bedroom so he could work on his big map, which he had called `the half-way point of the Ten-Year Crusade'. He finished it on the evening of November 3, went to his bed and sat reading reports. Ruhiyyih Khanum left him and went to her own room.
Ruhiyyih Khanum picks up the story:
.......... But the strains and pressures of his life had been too many and early in the morning of 4 November he suffered a coronary thrombosis.* Death must have come to him so gently and so suddenly that he died without even knowing he was ascending* to another realm.* When I went to his room in the morning to ask him how he was I did not recognize* that he was dead. His eyes were half-open with no look of pain, alarm or surprise in them. He lay as if he had wakened up and was quietly thinking about something in a relaxed and comfortable position. How terribly he had suffered when he suddenly learned of the death of his grandfather! Now he had been called softly and quickly away to join Him. The suffering and shock were this time to be the portion of someone else.(pp. 446-7)
Ruhiyyih Khanum, in the midst of her grief, sent a mild cable to Haifa to soften the blow, and followed it with the full story which she asked to be sent to the Bahá'í world from its World Centre:
.......... Shoghi Effendi beloved of all hearts sacred trust given believers by Master passed away sudden heart attack in sleep following Asiatic 'flu. Urge believers remain steadfast cling institution Hands lovingly reared recently
reinforced emphasized by beloved Guardian. Only oneness heart oneness purpose can befittingly testify loyalty all National Assemblies believers departed Guardian who sacrificed self utterly for service Faith. Ruhiyyih (pp. 447)
In the meantime, she turned to Hands of the Cause for help, including Hasan Balyuzi and John Ferraby who lived in England. Other Hands living in Europe came swiftly to London. Adelbert Mushlschlegel, a physician from Germany washed the precious remains of the Guardian in preparation for burial. Ruhiyyih Khanum arranged for a suitable burial place in London, because it was obvious that he could not be returned to Haifa as that would disobey Bahá'u'lláh's law of burial within one hour's journey of the place of death.
Then, on 5 November, she sent another cable announcing the funeral and inviting the Hands, Assembly members and Board members to attend. They arrived by the hundreds from all parts of the world.
The rest of the story is best told by Ruhiyyih Khanum:
.......... At last the day of final farewell arrived and hundreds of believers followed the coffin of the Guardian in a funeral cortege* of over sixty automobiles that wended* its way towards the Great Northern London Cemetery. On their arrival they found a great crowd of believers already waiting there, practically the entire British community having gathered in London to pay homage* to the sacred Guardian whose remains,* for some mysterious reason, God had chosen to entrust* to the soil of their native land. At first the floral hearse piled high with glowing flowers and then the hearse containing the coffin of Shoghi Effendi drew up, the multitude* stood in a stricken* silence, heads bowed and many faces streaming with tears. The funeral service took place in the simple and dignified non-denominational* chapel of the cemetery which was too small to hold all the believers within its walls. The description I wrote, which was published in The Passing of Shoghi Effendi some months later, best describes what then took place: ìThe Great Guardian was carried in and laid on the soft green covering of the
catafalque.* The Chapel was crowded to the doors, and many had to remain outside. All stood while the wonderful prayer, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh for the dead, was chanted in Arabic. Six other prayers and excerpts* from the Teachings were then read by friends with beautiful voices, some in English, some in Persian and representative of Bahá'ís from Europe, Africa, America, Asia — Negro, Jew and Aryan.
.......... ìIn solemn file the friends followed the casket* as it was borne* out, placed in the hearse again, and slowly driven the few hundred yards* to the graveside.
.......... ìAs all stood, silently waiting for the coffin to be lowered into the grave, Ruhiyyih Khanum felt the agony* of the hearts around her penetrate* into her own great grief. He was their Guardian. He was going forever from their eyes, suddenly snatched* from them by the immutable decree* of God, Whose Will no man dare question. They had not seen him, had not been able to draw near him. She decided to ask for it to be announced that before the coffin was placed in the grave, the friends who wished might pass by it and pay their respects. For over two hours the believers, eastern and western, filed by. For the most part they knelt and kissed the edge or the handle of the casket. Rarely indeed in history can such a demonstration of love and grief have been seen. Children bowed their little heads beside their mothers, old men wept, the iron reserve of the Anglo-Saxon — the tradition never to show feeling in public — melted before the white-hot sorrow in the heart. The morning had been sunny and fair; now a gentle shower started and sprinkled a few drops on the coffin, as if nature herself were suddenly moved to tears. Some placed little flasks* of Persian attar-of-rose at the head; one hesitatingly laid a red rose on the casket, symbol no doubt of the owner's heart; one could not bear the few drops of rain above that blessed, hidden face, and timidly* wiped them off as he knelt; others with convulsed* fingers carried away a little of the earth near the casket. Tears, tears and kisses, and solemn inner vows* were poured out at the head of the one who had always called himself their `true brother'. When the
last believers in this grief-stricken* procession had filed by, Ruhiyyih Khanum approached the casket, kissed it and knelt in prayer for a moment. She then had the green pall* spread over it, laid the blue-and-gold brocade* from the innermost Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh on top of it and arranged the still-fragrant* jasmine flowers over all its length. Then the mortal remains* of him whom `Abdu'l-Bahá designated* `the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin Surging Seas' were slowly lowered into the vault*, amid walls covered with evergreen boughs* and studded* with flowers, to rest upon the rug from the Holy Tomb at Bahji.î
.......... With such homage,* in such a spirit,
.......... All during the funeral upon his casket rested a great sheaf* of red and white flowers which I had especially ordered and on which I placed a card that seemed to me to express the feelings of those who alone had a right to share in this fragrant shield reposing* over his body: ìFrom Ruhiyyih and all your loved ones and lovers all over the world whose hearts are broken.î When the vault* had been sealed this sheaf* rested upon it and like the waves of a multi-coloured sea the thousands upon thousands of flowers the Bahá'ís had brought or ordered from all parts of the world lapped about it, completely covering the whole area around the grave with a thick mass of fragrant blossoms.
.......... When the funeral was over the Bahá'í world was informed and the believers were requested to hold suitable memorial meetings:
.......... Beloved Guardian laid rest London according laws Aqdas in beautiful spot after impressive ceremony held presence multitude believers representing over twenty-five countries east west. Doctors assure sudden passing involved no suffering blessed countenance bore expression infinite beauty peace majesty. Eighteen Hands assembled funeral urge National Bodies request all believers hold memorial meetings eighteenth November
commemorating dayspring divine guidance who has left us after thirtysix years utter selfsacrifice cease- less labours constant vigilance. Ruhiyyih
In 1958 his grave was built of the same dazzling* white Carrara marble he had chosen himself for the monu-ments of his illustrious* relatives in Haifa, a simple grave as he would have wished it to be. A single marble column, crowned* by a Corinthian capital, surmounted* by a globe,* the map of Africa facing forward — for had not the victories won in Africa brought him the greatest joy during that last year of his life? — and on this globe is a large gilded* bronze eagle, a reproduction* of a beautiful Japanese sculpture* of an eagle which he greatly admired and which he had placed in his own room. No better emblem* than this symbol of victory could have been found for the resting-place of him who had won so many victories as he led the hosts* of Bahá'u'lláh's followers on their ceaseless* conquests throughout the five continents of the world.
Having, with adamantine* fortitude in the face of every trial, accomplished ìthe toilsome* task of fixing the pattern, of laying the foundations, of erecting* the machinery, and of setting in operation the Administrative Orderî to use the Guardian's own words; having effected* the world-wide spread and establishment of the Cause of God through the implementation* of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan; having, through that rare spirit of his so admirably compounded* of audacity* and sobriety,* guided the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh to heights it had never before reached; having carried the work his Lord had entrusted to him as far forward as his failing strength would permit; bearing the scars of innumerable* personal attacks made upon him during the course of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi departed from the scene of his labours. The man had been ìcalled by sorrow and a strange desolation* of hopes into quietnessî. The Guardian, he who was named in the Master's Will the ìprimal* branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Treeî, and who, through the provisions of that Will, had been so firmly planted in the soil of the believers' hearts after `Abdu'l-Bahá's
passing, remained forever, and well indeed will it be with ìhim that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind.î (pp. 448-51)
10 The Guardianship
For 36 years Shoghi Effendi served as the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. During that time he fulfilled his role as interpreter of the Bahá'í Writings and issued many statements which rank as infallible interpretations of the Holy Text. He also applied the teachings in specific cases which became guidance for individuals and specific situations. All of these statements by the Guardian, whether in the form of personal letters, general letters to the Bahá'í world, or his books, have been collected (or are still being collected) and are being placed on computer and indexed.
In this way the Guardian's interpretations, writings and plans for the Bahá'í world are now on record and serve as a continuation of the Institution of the Guardianship.
The Universal House of Justice has clearly stated that whenever they consult on any issue facing the Bahá'í world, they not only refer to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, but also to this compilation of the words of Shoghi Effendi, which now becomes the Guardianship.
The interpretations of the Guardian are considered infallible, and not subject to alteration.* Thus, the Guardianship lives on through Shoghi Effendi.
Because I lived in the days of the Guardian, I had a very personal relationship with him, as did so many other Bahá'ís. I knew who he was, and I knew he was living in Haifa, and I knew I could reach him at any time if I wanted to, as could anyone else. For me it was enough to know this and to receive his general messages to the Bahá'í world. I felt an integral part of that world and built my life around the regular guidance he gave us. Thus, the Guardianship to me was very personal.
Today Shoghi Effendi is no longer with us, only his writings. So when one studies Shoghi Effendi, one finds only the Guardian, not the personality of Shoghi Effendi. And for today that is a blessing, for it is the guidance of the Guardianship that we need now — the principles by which the whole world must move forward under the leadership and guidance of the Universal
House of Justice as it faces every escalating world crisis and development.
The Revelation is with us in the Words of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab, the interpretation and example are with us in the Words and Life of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the Bahá'í community is with us because of the creative power and energy of Shoghi Effendi. The House of Justice refers to this ocean of Revelation and interpretation and applies it on a daily basis, and will continue to chart the course for this planet for at least 1000 years into a future they outlined for us.
The Guardianship is the bridge between the Revelation and its fulfilment — the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Without it the Universal House of Justice would not have the stability it has today. And this is what `Abdu'l-Bahá promised — the twin institutions working together and supplementing each other to rebuild the world on a spiritual foundation.
Let us express our boundless gratitude to God for these twin institutions — the Universal House of Justice and the Guardian-ship. Let us do it in our actions, day by day.
As I read these chapters just prior to publication, I weep at my inability to convey the full measure of my love for Shoghi Effendi. I only hope that you will go to his writings yourself, appreciate each aspect of his sacrificial life and his work, and come to love him as your own `beloved Guardian'.
Shoghi Effendi at Beirut
When Shoghi Effendi was a student at Beirut, he took an active part in the social and religious life of the University, as well as in the intellectual work. Ever since his graduation he formed a delightful link between the Bahá'í Movement and the work at Beirut, as he has taken a personal interest in many students and responded freely, when his advice was asked for.
Shoghi Effendi has also helped to select candidates to receive scholarships, which have been generously given by a Bahá'í lady in the United States. One scholarship has been permanently endowed and other grants have been given to a Bahá'í girl and a number of men.
The Bahá'ís have been distinguished at Beirut for at least three qualities: In the first place, the Bahá'í students have acquired from their parents an enviable refinement and courtesy. As far as I can tell, all of them have been easy to get along with, good-natured with their friends, and polite to their teachers. Their reputation for good manners and breeding is well established.
In the second place, the Bahá'í students have been marked by clean living and honesty. The older men have had a good influence on the younger ones, so that it is a tradition that they avoid bad habits. Every Sunday afternoon they meet together for devotional and social purposes at the house of Abid Hussayn Effendi Iqbal. The older students are able to keep in touch with what the younger ones are doing and their influence is worth as much as a whole faculty of teachers.
In the third place, the Bahá'ís intuitively understand internationalism. They mix with all sorts of companions without prejudice, and help to develop a spirit of fraternity on the campus. They carry their neutrality into active life, and it is largely because of their freedom from partisanship that several Bahá'ís have been entrusted with great responsibility.
Centuries ago shepherds, who were watching their flocks in the fields of Bethlehem, heard heavenly voices singing of `Good
will to all mankind'. Today the same song is being chorused from Mount Carmel and Beirut. May the whole world catch the spirit of the music, that harmony may take the place of discord and enmity be turned to peace.
Bayard Dodge, former President of the American University at Beirut, Syria
(Bahá'í Youth Bulletin BE 115 : November 1958)
Key to Abbreviations
BA Bahá'í Administration, Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Publishing Trust (Wilmette 1968)
BBM Blessings Beyond Measure, Ali M Yazdi, Bahá'í Publishing Trust (Wilmette 1988)
BW The Bahá'í World, volume xviii, Bahá'í World Centre (Haifa 1986)
DND Dawn of a New Day, Bahá'í Publishing Trust (New Delhi c 1970)
LDG The Light of Divine Guidance, The Messages from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria, Bahá'í-Verlag (Hotheim-Langenhaim 1982)
PP The Priceless Pearl, Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Bahá'í Publishing Trust (London 1969)
SE Shoghi Effendi, Ugo Giachery, George Ronald (Oxford 1973) (Extracts reproduced by permission of the publisher)
WOB The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Publishing Trust (Wilmette 1955)
WTAB Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Publishing Trust (Wilmette 1944)
First of all, I must thank Ida Noyes who first introduced me to the writings of Shoghi Effendi at a teaching conference in Syracuse, New York in November 1947. I was not a Bahá'í, but she was chairing the conference and asked me to read `only one sentence' aloud at the conference. It turned out to be a full-page paragraph, all one sentence.
Others I must thank are those who encouraged me to pursue study of the Faith, especially at Green Acre Bahá'í School in the United States of America — Ned Blackmer, who introduced me to the Faith, William and Marguerite Sears, Horace Holley, David and Margaret Ruhe, Louis Gregory, Mildred and Rafi Mottahedeh, Dorothy Baker, Terah Cowart-Smith, and Borrah Kavelin.
In the writing of this book I am indebted to Louis and Sylvia Kaye who offered me a shelter in their quiet home in Gaborone, Botswana and arranged for chapters to be read to several Motswana Bahá'ís who helped me communicate better. Also to Kal and Shanta Basin for providing similar arrangements in Lesotho with alert and helpful believers. And to Ivy and Thembisile Gcume, Thobela and Vuyelwa Mbotya and Gwen Ramoroesi who read the manuscript and made valuable suggestions. My continuing gratitude goes to Michael Walker, Sylvia Benatar and Tahirih Matthee of the National Literature Committee of South Africa for their patience and accurate editing. And most of all to Ruhiyyih Khanum who encouraged me to start on this venture in 1981 and allowed me to quote profusely from her published diaries.
And finally, to my mother, Leota Johnson Farnham, who though not a declared Bahá'í, has always encouraged me in my forty years of pioneering service in Africa and never complained about my being halfway around the world.
List of Words with Meanings
Where more than one meaning of a word is given, it is often because at different places in the story, different meanings are necessary.
abandoned: left without people Abha Kingdom: spiritual world abhorrent: hated by abstractions: thoughts or theories without practical examples accompanied: gone with activate: cause to act adamantine fortitude: great strength of mind adjacent: next-door adjoined: were next to advocate: recommend aegis: control afflicted: hurt, suffering agony: pain alabaster: white stone alarm: worry Allies: Western armies allocated: passed on to allotted: given alluring: attractive alteration: change alternative: choice amounting: adding up analysis: summary after looking into something anathema: something to be avoided anguish: suffering animated: excited animated: moved animation: eagerness anxiety: worry anxious: worried ardently: eagerly arena: place ascending: rising ascension: passing away, death aspect: feature assert: demand assumes: takes on assurance: promise astonished: surprised atypical of: unlike audacity: boldness authoritative: official Bahji: the House where Bahá'u'lláh lived the last years of His life on earth bear relation to: have relation to bereavement: passing bestir: move bestowed upon: given to binding: to be obeyed borne: carried boughs: branches bounty: gift brief: short brocade: cloth burden: load calculated: thought out calibre: quality [page 133] campaign: plan casket: coffin caste: inherited rank catafalque: coffin holder Cause: the Faith (capital C) ceaseless conquests: continuous teaching victories Celestial Concourse: souls of the next world centralization: bringing to one point chamber: room chanted: sung characteristics: qualities characterized: marked charger: horse chastisement: punishment chattels: movable possessions chauffeur: driver cherish: hold dear to the heart clarion: trumpet collective security: world government backed by a world army combat: work against combatants: fighters combined: joined commemorate: remember commenced: started commissioner: government authority communications: ways of keeping in touch (postal and telephone lines) compass: go around compliance: obedience comply with: obey compounded: made up comprehensive: complete concealed: hidden conceive: think out, imagine concentration of power: bringing the power together concern: worry conclusively: finally concord: agreement conditioned upon: limited by conduce: lead conflict: war conjunction: in conjunction with means in co-operation with conquest: victory conscientious: moral conscientiously: faithfully considerable: fairly large consolation: comfort consolidation: development and strengthening constitute: make up contrary: on the contrary means the opposite was true contribute: give conversing: talking convulsed: tight convulsive: disturbing coronary thrombosis: heart attack corruption: becoming impure cortege: procession crabs: sea animals crave: desire creed: religion crowned: topped Crusade: big plan crystallized: taken on a definite form custodian: caretaker custody: control dazzling: shining decade: ten years decimated: greatly destroyed declared: announced decree: decision deems: considers [page 134] defiance: challenge deliberating upon: talking about depiction: description deposited: left designate: appoint designed: drawn a plan of desolation: disappointment destined: appointed destiny: spiritual future detected: noticed determination: steadfastness, strong will deviate: stray devolve: fall devolved upon: was up to diligently: carefully and steadily diminish: become less disaffected: unhappy, no longer loyal disaffections: becoming no longer loyal discharging: doing, completing discreet: careful not to embarrass unnecessarily discretion: decision disheartened: sad disperses: scatters disrepair: need of repair disruption: disorder distress: pain, upset condition divers: different diverted: turned away divining: seeing division: disunity domain: area drafted: written drawn: brought dunes: sand piles dynamism: forceful energy eagerness: excited desire to do things efface: remove effected: caused efficiency: working well effusion: outflow elaborate: big electors: secondary electors are delegates emanate: show embellishment: making beautiful, decorating emblem: symbol emerge: be born enabled: helped enactments: decisions endeavour: try engaged: taking part enlightenment: education enshroud: surround ensuring: making sure of enthusiastic: happy enthusiastically: happily entrust: give entwined: grew around episode: group of events erecting: building esoteric: only for people who have special knowledge or interest essential: important estate: property estrangement: lack of former love evacuated: emptied eventually: after some time, in the end evident: clear evolve: gradually develop exceeds: is more than excerpts: quotations exclusive: undivided, not shared with anyone excommunication: removing Bahá'ís from the Faith excursion: trip [page 135] executing: carrying out, doing execution: carrying out, doing exemplary: an example for others exemption: freedom exercise full authority: apply full authority exercise: carry out exhausted: worn out expend: spend explicit: perfectly clear expounded: explained in detail express purpose: only purpose expression: look (on a person's face) expressly: in so many words, outwardly exquisite: perfect extend: make larger exterior: outside extraordinary: strange extremely: very facet: flat surface faculties: abilities favourable: suitable firing: shooting flasks: bottles fled: ran fleeting: quick fluke: coincidence or accident flushed: pink fooling: confusing fortitude: strength fragrance: perfume fragrant: sweet smelling frustrate: stop, interfere with garrison: fortified centre gaze: long or steady look gesture: sign gilded: gold-covered girdled: circled globe: world governess: teacher grasped: understood grave: important grief-stricken: heavy-hearted gullibility: readiness to believe what a person tells you Haram-i-Aqdas: gardens around the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh hallowed: holy hardly: hardly used means badly treated harmoniously: in a friendly way hastens: hurries henchmen: supporters heritage: gift from his parents and family holdings: properties homage: respect horrified: shocked hosts: thousands humiliation: loss of dignity, suffering hydra-headed: with many heads, which grow again when cut off idolize: admire or love greatly illumination: light illustrious: great immortal: never dying immutable decree: changeless will imperceptible: cannot be noticed implementation: carrying out implications: effects impressing: impressing upon means convincing incessant: never ending incident: happening inclinations: likings [page 136] inconspicuously: without being noticed inconvenient: not easy incumbent: a duty indefatigable: tireless index: sign indicate: point out infallibility: never making a mistake infancy: babyhood infinite: many infinitum: ad infinitum means on and on forever infringe: interfere infuse: inspire inheritance: wealth coming from the family inimitable: special initiate measures: start activities innermost: inner meaning innumerable: too many to count inscrutable: which cannot be known institute: start instrument: way intelligible: understandable intense: great, strong intention: aim or purpose interpretations: opinions interred: buried intimacy: closeness intimate: close intoxicated: excited invariably: always inviolate: pure, not weakened involuntarily: without choosing by himself irked: unhappy irrespective: regardless jurisdiction: control latent: like a seed Latin Republics: countries of Central and South America limited: short loathed: hated lopped: cut lull: quiet time Mashriqu'l-Adhkar: Temple machinations: tricky actions major: big manifest: clear manifested: showed, revealed manifold: many mansion: large house marble: stone marshalled: organized in order marvelling: surprised Master: `Abdu'l-Bahá Mausoleum: Shrine measure: step mentioned: told midmost paradise: centre of heaven ministry: time of leadership minor: less important, small miraculous: a miracle mischievous: naughty mists: clouds mitigate: lessen moat: ditch around a city or building modest: small modestly: little modus operandi: method of procedure mountaineering: climbing mountains Movement: Faith multitude: large number, crowd muster: gather together Nakezeens: Covenant-breakers non-denominational: general [page 137] nostrils: part of the nose obligation: duty obscured: made hidden obviously: clearly Occident: West occupied: lived in occurrence: event offend: hurt offending: harmful onslaught: attack opportunity: chance ordinances: instructions organism: whole body Orient: East oriental: Eastern orthodoxy: sticking to the accepted opinions overbearingly: in a high and mighty way overwhelm: overcome, defeat pall: cloth particular: special passenger: traveller passionate: emotional pattern: way pending: waiting for penetrate: sink, go into penetrating: seeing well perennial: never-ending perseverance: steadfastness in his work persevere: keep on persistent: continuous pertaining to: about pickets: pegs or sticks pilgrims: visitors to a holy place plucked: picked plunged: sunk polling: election pommes saurees: fried potatoes precincts: nearby area preoccupation: thinking about, thing to think about prerogative: privilege prescribed: limited preserved: kept prestige: high standing presume: suppose prey: victim primal: main primary: first pristine: original proceeded: went on profoundly: deeply prohibition: unwritten law promote: help forward promptness: being on time pronounce upon: decide on propagation: spreading proportion: proper share prostrated: weak province: area or control Qasr evacuated: Mansion emptied Qiblih: centre quota: number rapport: co-operation rare: uncommon realization: achievement realm: world reared: brought up rebelliousness: resistance recall: remember recapitulating: telling reception: eating and drinking with friends recognize: see recommences: starts again recompensed: repaid recuperate: regain strength referred to: spoke of refurbished: furnished [page 138] regal: royal regeneration: rebirth reinforcements: more soldiers reiterated: repeated rejoined: returned to relationships: ties remains: body reminiscent of: like remonstrance: protesting remonstrated: protested remotest: farthest render: give rendered: made renounced: gave up, left renovated: made new, rebuilt reposing: resting representative of: serving as a symbol of reproduction: copy requested: asked reserve: holding back reserved: kept resident: living there residential: home resounds: can be heard resources: money resting-place: grave restoration commenced: repairs begun revealing: clear Ridvan: 21 April -2 May rigours: hard conditions ripple: movement sacred: holy safeguard: protect scent: perfume scheduled: planned scrupulous: perfect sculpture: model secondary: less secretariat: administrative headquarters sectarian tendencies: division sentiments: feelings sentry: guard sequestered: separated sheaf: bundle showering: giving significance: meaning significant: important signified: showed signify: mean simplicity: simple nature sketch: drawing snatched: taken away sobriety: careful balance solemn: serious sorely-stricken: suffering sought: wanted speedy: quick sphere: limited area of influence spiritually-quickened: made spiritually alive spurring: pushing spurs: urges state: condition stewardship: time of service stimulating: encouraging stormy atmosphere: troubled times strangled: killed strategy: plan of action stricken: heart-broken studded: sprinkled stunning: big suffice: be enough sufficiently: enough summons: calls superstructure: building over another building supervising: watching over supervision: watchful guidance surmounted: having on top of it sympathizers: friends [page 139] Tablet: letter taint: small infection tarry: wait tease: play tricks tendrils: curling stems tentative: waiting terraces: level gardens therapeutic: healing thorough nuisance: complete pest Threshold: Entrance to the Kingdom throb: beat throughout: all over tidings: news timidly: gently toilsome: hard trace: mark traverse: cross tried: tested triumphant: victorious, winning turmoil: confusion twinkling: laughing typical: correct unblemished: clean unceasing: never ending uncompromising: strict undaunted: steady underestimated: ignored undisputed: unquestioned unerring: not making a mistake unfettered: free unflinching: steadfast uniformity: doing in the same way union: marriage Union: United States unique: only happening once unprecedented: new unseemly: improper unsound: weak utterly: completely valiant: brave vanity: showing off variation: change vast: large vault: container venomously: poisonously vicinity: in the vicinity of means near vigilant: watchful vigorously: with power vigour: power vile: dirty violators: people who disobey vision: view vital: important voluntarily: of his own will voluntary: by his own will vows: promises wayside: side of the road weal: good wended: travelled whatsoever: every withdrawal: going away woe: suffering yards: metres zenith: high point