From: Bahá'í World Centre
To: Peter R. Smith
Subject: Enclosure to letter dated 11 August 1998
The Research Department has considered the question about the rank of Fadil Mazandarani raised by Dr. Peter R. Smith in his email message of 7 June 1998 to the Universal House of Justice. Specifically, Dr. Smith seeks information about whether or not Shoghi Effendi named Fadil Mazandarani a Hand of the Cause of God. We provide the following comment.
By way of introduction we wish to note that the list of Hands of the Cause of God in "The Bahá'í World", volume XIV, contains the names of those believers whose appointment as Hands of the Cause is clearly supported by the evidence that was available at the time of the compilation of the list.1 In the case of the Hands nominated by Shoghi Effendi, for example, the list includes only those whose appointment was accompanied by an official and public announcement to the Bahá'í world.
Additional detailed research will be required to determine whether other individuals might be identified as Hands of the Cause. In this regard it is interesting to reflect on the following statement from a letter dated 19 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in response to a question about the references to the Hands of the Cause contained in "God Passes By", page 195 and pages 328-329:2
The Hands of the Cause, of Bahá'u'lláh's days, will be known to the friends by name when the history of the Cause in Persia and the Near East is written and available.In the view of the Research Department, the conditions set out above by the beloved Guardian have not, as yet, been met. Likewise, the status of believers who might have been addressed by Shoghi Effendi as Hands of the Cause but whose names were not announced publicly to the friends is a matter requiring further research.
The Research Department has undertaken a very preliminary study of some of the letters written by Shoghi Effendi to individuals in which the recipient is referred to as a Hand of the Cause. The complexity of the issue is illustrated by the following examples:
- Martha Root
In a letter dated 19 April 1925 addressed to Martha Root, Shoghi Effendi refers to her as "a mighty hand of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh". At the time of her passing, the Guardian confirmed her rank as a Hand of the Cause.His cable, dated 2 October 1939 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, states:
MARTHA'S UNNUMBERED ADMIRERS THROUGHOUT BAHA'I WORLD LAMENT WITH ME EARTHLY EXTINCTION HER HEROIC LIFE. CONCOURSE ON HIGH ACCLAIM HER ELEVATION RIGHTFUL POSITION GALAXY BAHA'I IMMORTALS. POSTERITY WILL ESTABLISH HER AS FOREMOST HAND WHICH `ABDU'L-BAHA'S WILL HAS RAISED UP FIRST BAHA'I CENTURY.3- Abdu'llah Mutlaq
In a letter dated 30 December 1931 to Mr. Abdu'llah Mutlaq, the Guardian refers to him as a member of the august body of the Hands of the Cause of Mr. Mutlaq passed away prior to 1951 when Shoghi Effendi began to appoint living Hands of the Cause. At the time of his passing, Shoghi Effendi did not make a public announcement concerning Mr. Mutlaq's rank. The only reference to this subject is found in the letter addressed personally to Mr. Mutlaq.- Amelia Collins
Amelia Collins was appointed as a Hand of the Cause in 1947 but the appointment was not made public until December 1951. In a letter dated 14 January 1947 written on behalf of the Guardian to Mrs. Collins, his secretary states:
Shoghi Effendi appended the following message in his own handwriting to this letter:- Fadil Mazandarani
The Archives at the Bahá'í World Centre does not have a copy of the letter dated 16 January 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Fadil Mazandarani in which he is reportedly referred to as a Hand of the Cause. However, as was his custom, the Guardian provided handwritten instructions to his Persian secretary specifying what was to be said in the letter the secretary was to draft. These handwritten notes have been examined and confirm the reference to Mr. Mazandarani as a Hand of the Cause. However, when Shoghi Effendi officially appointed the Hands of the Cause from 1951 onwards, he did not appoint Mr. Mazandarani, who was living during the entire period, and who passed away in December 1957. As in the case of Mr. Mutlaq, the only reference to the subject of Fadil Mazandarani's rank occurs in the personal letter of the Guardian to him.As mentioned above, final determination as to whether or not other persons might be designated as Hands of the Cause will require a great deal of careful and detailed research, some of which will, no doubt, require access to archival materials in Iran that are not currently accessible. The examples we provide are meant simply to illustrate the complexity of the task and some of the issues involved. For the present, the Universal House of Justice, in a memorandum dated 1 April 1979, has instructed that additional names should not be included in the list of the Hands of the Cause.
2. "God Passes By" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987).
3. Cf. "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1947), p. 30.
4. The text of the cable is in Ruhiyyih Rabbani's "The Priceless Pearl" (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1969), pp. 258-259.
5. Excerpts from this letter are published in "The Bahá'í World", vol. XIII (Haifa: The Universal House of Justice, 1970), pp. 838-839.