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Shoghi Effendi

by Moojan Momen

published in Encyclopaedia Iranica
New York: Columbia University, 2011
SHOGHI EFFENDI (Shawqi Rabbáni; b. ʿAkká, 1 March 1897; d. London, 4 November 1957), eldest grandson and successor of ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ as leader of the Bahai Faith (1921-57). Iranian Bahais usually refer to him as Ḥażrat-e Waliy-e Amralláh, the title given to him by ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ, usually translated as “the Guardian of the Cause of God, or simply “the Guardian.” In the West, he is chiefly known as Shoghi Effendi.

i. Biography

ii. Leadership of the Bahai Community

iii. Writings

iv. The Institution of the Guardianship


Shoghi Effendi, eldest son of Mirzá Moḥammad Hádi Shirázi (1865-1955), a member of the Afnán family, and Żiáʾiya Ḵánom (1878-1951), eldest daughter of ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, was born in the House of ʿAbdallāh Pāshá in Acre (ʿAkká). He was educated at the Collège des Frères, Haifa, Protestant Syrian College, Beirut, and Balliol College, Oxford. In his second year at Oxford he learned of the death of ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ and returned to Haifa to find that, in his Will and Testament, ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ had appointed him head of the Bahai Faith, with the title of Guardian, and the authorized expounder of the Bahai scriptures. Shoghi Effendi wrote in private correspondence of his feelings of “agitation” and “inadequacy” and of being overwhelmed at this unexpected appointment (Rabbani, 1969, pp. 43, 48).

For consultations about the future of the religion, Shoghi Effendi invited senior members of the main Bahai communities (in Iran, North America, Britain, France, and Germany) to Haifa in January-March 1922. One solution would have been to call for the immediate election of the Universal House of Justice (Bayt-al-ʿadl), the international elected body referred to in the writings of Baháʾ-Alláh and of which Shoghi Effendi had been appointed the permanent head in ʿAbd-al-Baháʾ's Will and Testament. Shoghi Effendi appears to have decided that such a move would be premature, given the lack of administrative structure and experience in the world Bahai community (Rabbani, 1969, pp. 55-6).


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