Turning to Shoghi Effendi
17-WT It is incumbent upon the members of the House of
Justice, upon all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause
of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination
unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and
be lowly before him.
News of the appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Faith was hailed by Bahá'ís all over the world who, as bidden by the Master in His Will and Testament, turned to Him with devotion and loyalty. This act endowed the community of the Most Great Name with tremendous potentialities for progress and bestowed upon the believers a fresh outpouring of divine bounties which, in turn, strengthened their faith. While a believer's faith depends upon the measure of his love for Bahá'u'lláh, that love cannot be realized unless the individual turns to the Guardian with devotion, humility and lowliness as exhorted by the Master in His Will and Testament. For how could one claim to love the Blessed Beauty while disregarding the authority of the very person who is infallibly guided by Bahá'u'lláh and is the Sign of God on earth?
Stories of the love and dedication which the believers in general, and the Hands of the Cause in particular, evinced towards Shoghi Effendi are numerous and heartwarming. In the East, the believers' enthusiasm knew no bounds. They carried out his instructions faithfully and, in many cases, suffered severe persecution in the accomplishment of various undertakings. Great numbers of Bahá'ís wrote to Shoghi Effendi and expressed their loyalty to him, while many with able pens expressed their deep love in verse and prose that were published within the community. Some had met Shoghi Effendi, knew him personally and had perceived even during his childhood that he would be the successor of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
As mentioned in chapter 27, the famous Bahá'í poet 'Andalib composed a delightful lullaby as Shoghi Effendi lay in his cradle, foretelling a glorious future for him. Another story of this kind of spiritual perceptiveness involves Dr Yunis Khan, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's trusted secretary and translator for some years, who used to correspond
with the believers in the West. Once he received a letter from an American believer saying that some of the friends had heard that the Master's successor had recently been born and asking him to confirm this. Dr Khan found it very difficult to mention this to 'Abdu'l-Bahá because he could not bear to think of the day when the Master would pass away, so he kept this matter to himself and was uncertain how to speak about it. Eventually he mustered his courage. Timorously and in a low voice, he asked the question. 'Abdu'l-Bahá responded affirmatively, saying, 'The triumph of the Cause is in his hands.'
Dr Khan knew who the child was and had previously had an experience of profound spiritual upliftment while visiting the infant Shoghi Effendi. Although he tried to put the matter out of his mind, as he believed it was unforgivable to pay attention to anyone except the Master during His lifetime, nevertheless he told Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali about the feelings he had experienced seeing Shoghi Effendi in his cradle — and discovered that the Haji also had a similar experience. Thus, from the early days of Shoghi Effendi's life, the seed of love for him was planted in the hearts of a great many believers in the East. This is why his appointment as the Guardian of the Cause was greeted enthusiastically by the entire community of the Bahá'ís of Persia.
In the West the believers turned to Shoghi Effendi in obedience to the words of the Master but it took some time before they recognized him as a person endowed with God-given powers and virtues. As the believers met him and became enchanted with his personality, they recounted to the friends their stories of utter devotion to him, which in turn led the Bahá'ís of the West to acquire a deeper attachment to and love for him.
The following testimonials from some of the prominent believers, including the Hands of the Cause, demonstrate the extent of love and adoration felt for the Guardian by the believers in the West.
Mountfort Mills, an outstanding believer who served the Guardian ably and with great devotion, spoke to the friends on 22 April 1922, having met Shoghi Effendi a few months after the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
...We met Shoghi Effendi, dressed entirely in black, a touching
figure. Think of what he stands for today! All the complex problems
of the great statesmen of the world are as child's play in
comparison with the great problems of this youth, before whom
are the problems of the entire world. He is a youth of twenty-six,
left by the will of the Master as the Guardian of the Cause. No one
can form any conception of his difficulties, which are overwhelming.
We received his joyous, hearty hand grasp and our meeting was
short. A bouquet was sent to our room in the form of a young tree
filled with nectarines or tangerines. It was brought by Mr Fugeta.
We awoke without any sense of sadness. That feeling was entirely
gone. The Master is not gone. His Spirit is present with greater
intensity and power, freed from bodily limitations. We can take it
into our own hearts and reflect it in greater degrees. In the center
of this radiation stands this youth, Shoghi Effendi. The Spirit
streams forth from this young man. He is indeed young in face,
form and manner, yet his heart is the centre of the world today.
The character and spirit divine scintillate from him today. He
alone can today save the world and make true civilization. So
humble, meek, selfless is he that it is touching to see him. His
letters are a marvel. It is the great wisdom of God in granting us
the countenance of this great central point of guidance to meet
difficult problems. These problems, much like ours, come to him
from all parts of the world. They are met and solved by him in the
most informal way.
[261 Mills, quoted in Giachery, Shoghi Effendi, p. 189.]
In 1926 Hand of the Cause Mrs Keith Ransom-Kehler wrote:
The unique and outstanding figure in the world today is Shoghi
Effendi. Unique, because the guardianship of this great Cause is
in his hands and his humility, modesty, economy and self-effacement
are monumental. Outstanding because he is the only person,
we may safely say, who entrusted with the affairs of millions of
souls, has but one thought and one mind — the speedy promulgation
of peace and goodwill throughout the world. His personal life
is absolutely and definitely sacrificed... The world, its politics,
social relationships, economic situations, schemes, plans, aspirations,
programmes, defects, successes, lie under his scrutiny like
infusoria beneath a microscope.
...Shoghi Effendi is the Commander-in-chief of this great new
army of faith and strength that is moving forth to vanquish the
malevolent forces of life.
[262 Ransom-Kehler, in ibid. pp. 192-3. (quoted in Giachery, Shoghi Effendi.)]
And Hand of the Cause Dr Ugo Giachery left this account:
Of all the characteristics that Shoghi Effendi possessed, the one
that I believe was at the very core of his personality and was deeply
rooted in his soul was the immense faith he had, his complete
reliance on the efficacy of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. He clung to His
Teachings with a tenacity that cannot be likened to anything.
His whole being was permeated with the power of the Revelation,
and this is the reason that all who came near him or in contact with
him felt so safe, so assured, so regenerated. For the same reason,
scheming individuals who inclined towards evil-doing or deceit
could not remain long in his presence and went away frightened,
bewildered and chastened. During my years of association with
Shoghi Effendi I experienced, over and over again, the power
emanating from his belief, a power that removed difficulties,
brought unexpected happy solutions and paved the way to better
and greater achievements...
At this point I would like to illustrate still another of the
spiritual virtues of Shoghi Effendi, which I had noticed before but
which, during that vital conversation, became evident in all its
strength and delicacy; namely, the capacity to separate himself as
a man from Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Cause of God.
When he spoke of the labours, duties, plans, present and future,
the inspiration, the decisions of the Guardian, he was so impersonal
that one could have believed he was speaking of another
person. This endeared him even more, because to find such a
balance of humility and greatness, of objectivity and selflessness
coupled with a fertile, creative and poetic mind is one of the rare
happenings in thousands of years. I have used the word delicacy,
because in all his thought and action there was no affectation or
remote trace of pride or vainglory. An illuminating example of this
is to be found in one of his masterly letters, The Dispensation of
Bahá'u'lláh, in the section on the Administrative Order wherein
is described the station of the Guardian...
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
When conversing with him, one could strongly sense this feeing
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...
If one were to relate in detail the manifold aspects of the
personality of Shoghi Effendi which like facets of a perfectly cut
gem reflected the rays of divine light and inspiration, many
volumes would not suffice. I firmly believe that psychologists will
come to agree with the point of view that while human beings,
generally, react in a voluntary or semi-voluntary way to circumstance,
situations, inspiration and even to what may be considered
illumination from the Divinity, Shoghi Effendi, like a sensitive
instrument connected to the Source of all powers, reacted involuntarily,
to the most imperceptible spiritual impulse which activated
his organism, making him capable of executing and discharging
all functions and responsibilities related to the Cause of God
without the slightest probability of error.
This analysis, made at the very first meeting with him, explained
to me clearly and conclusively the meaning of divine
guidance and infallibility...
[263 Giachery, in ibid. pp. 16-20. (Giachery, Shoghi Effendi.)]
Finally, a tribute was paid to Shoghi Effendi less than a year after his passing in an address delivered by Hand of the Cause Amelia Collins at the International Bahá'í Conference held in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, which she attended as the chosen representative of Shoghi Effendi. It provides ample testimony that the Hands of the Cause faithfully carried out the exhortations of the Master 'to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him'. Mrs Collins spoke as follows:
How can I ever find words to bring you what is in my heart about
our beloved Guardian! I feel we must each so fill ourselves at this
time with his spirit and his wishes that it will carry us through the
next five years of the glorious Crusade he initiated and enable us
to consummate his every hope and wish. This, the fulfilment of his
own Plan, is the living memorial we must build in his memory.
When I first heard of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, I was a very
young believer and after the provisions of His will became known,
my whole heart and soul turned to that youthful Branch, appointed
by Him to watch over and guide the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. How I
prayed that God would help me to make him happy!
In 1923 I first met our beloved Guardian in Haifa. He was just
a young man then, full of determination to carry forward the great
work entrusted to his care. He was so spontaneous, so trusting and
loving and outgoing in the buoyancy of his beautiful heart.
Through the years we all watched with wonder and ever-deepening
devotion to him and appreciation of his God-given gifts, the
unfoldment of Bahá'u'lláh's Divine Order which he built up so
patiently and wisely all over the world. But, oh friends, at what
great cost to himself!
In 1951, when the beloved Guardian called some of the friends
to serve in Haifa, I began to learn of what he had passed through.
His face was sad, one could see his very spirit had been heavily
oppressed by the agony he went through for years during the
period when the family pursued their own desires and finally
abandoned the work of the Faith and their Guardian to go their
own way. I can truthfully say that for a number of years we who
served him at the World Centre seldom saw him smile, and very
often he poured out to us his woes and confided some of the things
he had passed through. I do not know in any great detail the day
to day afflictions of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, but sometimes
I wonder if they could have been any more heartbreaking than
those of our beloved Shoghi Effendi.
The Guardian had a profound and innate humility. Whenever
the Faith was involved, he was fiery in its defence, kinglike in the
loftiness of his bearing, the authority with which he spoke. But as
a human being he was self-effacing, would brush aside our adulation
and praise, turn everything we wished to shower on him
towards the central figures of our Faith. We all know this characteristic
of his, how he would never allow any photographs to be taken
of himself, or give any of himself, but invariably encouraged the
friends to place the Master's picture in their rooms; how he would
not allow anyone to have his clothes or personal things lest they
be regarded as relics; how he disliked any signs of personal worship
— though he could never control what was in our hearts for
The Master said: 'O ye the faithful loved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá!
It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi
Effendi ... that no dust of despondency and sorrow may stain his
radiant nature...' Neither his family, nor the people of the world,
nor I am afraid we Bahá'ís, protected that radiant heart of Shoghi
After the years of sorrow and trial he went through with the
family after his final separation from them, there came a new joy
and hope to our beloved Guardian. The rapid progress made in
the attainment of so many of the goals of the World Crusade lifted
him up. How can I ever describe to you his eyes when he would
come over to the Pilgrim House and announce to us a new achievement;
they sparkled with light and enthusiasm and his beautiful
face would be all smiles. Often he would send over one of his maps
and when it was spread out on the dining table, his finger, full of
infinite strength, insistence and determination, would point out
the new territory opened, the new Haziratu'l-Quds purchased, the
new language translated, as the case might be. I feel it would be
no exaggeration to say that it was the progress of the Ten Year Plan
that gave him the encouragement to go on working so hard, for
he was very tired. More than once he said during the last year of
his life, that his ministry had lasted longer than that of either
Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and complained of the crushing
burden, but none of us could foresee it presaged his release, that
he was burned out with thirty-six years of struggle, of constant
work, of sorrow and self-sacrifice.
His conscientiousness was like a fire burning in him; from his
earliest childhood he showed the sensitive, noble, painstaking
qualities that characterized him, and grew stronger as he matured
and throughout his Guardianship.
The friends should realize that Shoghi Effendi had no
foreknowledge that he would be appointed the Successor of
'Abdu'l-Bahá. The shock of the Master's passing was followed by
an even more terrible one — the shock of his own appointment as
the 'Sign of God'. He grew in this supreme office, which we know
was under the direct guidance of the Twin Manifestations of God,
even as a tree grows to full maturity and bears goodly fruits, but
at such cost to himself of sacrifice that no one will ever properly
Let us review for a moment, however briefly, some of the
services Shoghi Effendi rendered the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
When 'Abdu'l-Bahá passed away, the Shrine of the Bab consisted
of six rooms surrounded by a small piece of land. The
Mansion of Bahji and most of its lands were in the hands of the
Covenant-breakers or their friends, except for the Holy Tomb
itself, which covers a very small area, and two pilgrim houses, one
rented. The Master Himself, though so widely loved and respected,
was not known as the Head of an independent religion, but rather
regarded as a Moslem notable and Holy Man. The young Guardian,
freed by his very youthfulness, armed with the power conferred
on him by his Grandfather, cut with one stroke the bonds still
holding in appearance the Bahá'ís to Islam — he refused to go to
the Mosque. Tender, sensitive, crushed with grief, fighting his own
inner battle to be reconciled to the glory of the station so suddenly
revealed to him, Shoghi Effendi began to do all the Master had
hoped to accomplish and to carry into effect His Words when He
hinted that after Him the veils would be rent asunder. The Perfect
Exemplar, the loving and forgiving Father, had passed away and
the Order of Bahá'u'lláh was now to take shape under the guidance
of the Champion of Divine Justice.
With wistful eyes the blessed Master had gazed up at the Shine
of the Bab and said that it was not possible to build the Shrine of
the Bab, but God willing, it would be done. The Guardian first
added three rooms during the early years of his ministry to make
the building a nine-roomed edifice. In 1944, the model of the
completed Shrine was unveiled on the occasion of the One Hundredth
Anniversary of the Bab's Declaration; it had an arcade and
a dome, both of which the Master had stated it should have. By
1953 it was all built. Year after year the Guardian increased the
size of the Shrine gardens, himself laying out the design in its
minutest detail. Patiently, persistently, he had the lands about it
bought, designating each area, supervising each transaction,
overcoming every obstacle. He got the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh
away from the arch Covenant-breaker, Muhammad-'Ali, and
turned it into a Museum and Holy Place; he had all the Bahá'í
properties exempted from government and municipal taxes; he
had the Bahá'í marriage recognized as legally binding; he secured
first [from] the British and later, in a much stronger form, from
the new State of Israel, recognition of the fact that this is a World
Religion, whose Holy Places and whose World Centre are in Haifa
and Acca, and that he as the Head of this Faith had a higher
position than any other religious dignitary in the land.
He chose the design himself and erected the monuments over
the resting places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, her mother and brother,
and the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He likewise specified the International
Archives building should be of the type and proportions which it
is, approving himself every detail and often changing details until
he got them the way he wanted them. He located its exact position
on the ground, the size of its walls and stairs, the garden surrounding
it. This building will house precious Bahá'í relics such as no previous
religion has ever possessed. Shoghi Effendi, appealing direct to
high government officials, secured Mazra'ih as a Holy Place for
the Bahá'í pilgrims to visit, after it had been promised to other
institutions when the Jewish State was formed. It was at his decision
that the beautiful Temple site on Mt Cannel was purchased, in the
spot 'Abdu'l-Bahá had wished; and from the World Centre streamed
out the translations, the letters, the writings of the Guardian in a
mighty flow, in exquisite language, full of power, accurate, profound,
The hand of the Guardian was a motivating force. Let there be
no mistake that any glove ever did the work of that hand. The
gloves were poor and unworthy instruments for the most part, well
nigh useless judged by human standards. It was his hand in everything,
from the littlest to the biggest thing, that grasped every
work, initiated every enterprise, never relaxed, never relinquished
its grip until the task was done. Many gloves frayed out on that
powerful hand, fell apart, were of necessity cast aside, but the work
of the Cause went on uninterrupted until the last night of his life!
The Administrative Order of the Faith, the provisions for which
were laid down by Bahá'u'lláh Himself and amplified by 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
Shoghi Effendi set out to build. When the Master passed
away, there were few Spiritual Assemblies in the world, and only
one national body functioning in a very rudimentary manner. The
builder, however, had been provided by God; the Great Administrator,
with an almost unique capacity for organization, with a
wisdom vouchsafed from on High, with a world-encompassing
vision, set about his task. Patiently, persistently, painstakingly,
Shoghi Effendi reared strong national bodies. He brought into
being the International Bahá'í Council — the embryonic Universal
House of Justice. He kept the balance, the perfect balance, between
a thing too loosely knit, too individualistic to function efficiently,
and too much efficiency, too many rules and regulations, too much
running into endless and unnecessary detail which is one of the
great afflictions of present day civilization. When he had created
the system and reared the machinery of the Bahá'í Administrative
Order, he suddenly shifted the whole mechanism into gear; he
called for the first Seven-Year Plan, the first step in the Promulgation
of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, which is the instrument for the
spiritual conquest of the entire globe. Plan followed plan. The
scattered diversified followers of the Faith began to take shape as
the army of Bahá'u'lláh; guided by the National Spiritual Assemblies
The pioneers, the vanguard as he called them of this great
host, began to match out and over the world until, at the half-way
point of the mighty Crusade he had launched, Shoghi Effendi
could look upon a united, strong, enthusiastic, world-wide community
of believers, who had already achieved the major part of the
tasks he had set for them.
What gifts he had, what gifts he gave: Gleanings from the Writings
Bahá'u'lláh, The Dawn-Breakers — Nabil's Narrative, The Kitab-i-Iqan,
The Hidden Words, and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, translations
of superlative style and power, making available the essence of
Bahá'u'lláh's Message to the western world. What life he breathed
into us through his own writings , beginning with his World Order
letters — the Goal of a New World Order, the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh,
followed by the Unfoldment of World Civilization (now The World Order
of Bahá'u'lláh), The Advent of Divine Justice, The Promised Day is Come,
works which were supplemented by dynamic cables and special
messages. To such a long list of distinguished works was added the
finest flower of his mind, his masterful review of the first one hundred
years of the greatest Dispensation vouchsafed by God to man on
this planet — God Passes By.
His was the vision which looked at the Cause as a whole, saw
present and future as part of one mighty panorama. He not only
collated the teachings, but, with a strong sense of history, assembled
the most precious relics in the Bahá'í world into a religious archives
such as no previous Faith has ever possessed. He saw to it that all
the precious sites associated with the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh and the
heroes and martyrs oft his Cause were, whenever possible, purchased:
the House where Bahá'u'lláh was born in Teheran, His father's house
in Tihran, the Siyah-Chal, where the first rays of His Divine Mission
fell upon Him in the blackness of a dungeon, the House He occupied
in Constantinople, and one of the Houses He occupied in Adrianople;
the bleak fortress of Mah-Ku, where the Bab revealed the Bayan,
His shop in Bushihr, and many other sites associated with Him
and His companions. At Shoghi Effendi's instructions an exhaustive
photographic record was made of hundreds of these spots associated
with the Heroic Age of the Faith.
He encouraged the Persian believers to compile the histories
of the early days of the Cause in their provinces, and laid upon the
Persian National Spiritual Assembly the great responsibility of
collecting and transcribing the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
thus preserving for posterity a truly priceless heritage.
He was truly the builder by nature; he completed the first
Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in America, the great Mother Temple of the
West, unique in having had its foundation stone laid by 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Himself. He initiated, chose the designs, and set in motion
the plans for the erection of the African, the European, the
Australasian, the Teheran and the Holy Land Temples. He specified
the sites for the National Haziratu'l-Quds and the national
endowments. He named the languages into which the literature
of the Faith was to be translated, and personally encouraged the
pioneers to go forth and fulfil 'Abdu'l-Bahá's plan.
Ah, but he did more than this! He made each believer feel that
over him watched a just mind and a loving heart; that he had a
part to play, was precious to the Faith, had duties to discharge,
enjoyed privileges infinitely precious because he was a member
of the Community of the Most Great Name. Let us never forget
this, never lose sight of this! This oneness he made a reality, this
staunch loyalty to our Faith he implanted in our hearts. His work
in this world is done. Ours is not.
We are all, in a way, Shoghi Effendi's heirs. We have inherited
his work. His plan is completely laid out. Ours is the task to fulfil
it. We must, each of us, complete our share of the World Crusade.
This is the memorial we must build to our beloved Shoghi Effendi.
Let us love him more now than ever before, and through the
power of our love attract his love to us, and bring his blessing on
Let us not fail him, for he never failed us. Let us never forget
him, for he never forgot us.
[264 Collins, A Tribute to Shoghi Effendi.]
In the third part of the Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá exhorts His loved ones to 'take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi' and to turn to him.
54-5-WT O ye the faithful loved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá! It is
incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi,
the twig that hath branched from and the fruit given forth by the
two hallowed and Divine Lote-Trees, that no dust of despondency
and sorrow may stain his radiant nature, that day by day
he may wax greater in happiness, in joy and spirituality, and may
grow to become even as a fruitful tree.
For he is after 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the guardian of the Cause of
God, the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved
of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him.
For most of his ministry Shoghi Effendi suffered greatly at the hands of the old Covenant-breakers, the entire family of the Master and many so-called Bahá'ís who were not faithful to him. Far from the expectations of the Master that 'no dust of despondency and sorrow may stain his radiant nature', the sufferings inflicted on him by a band of godless men and women left their imprint on his radiant soul.
It was only through the loyalty of the majority of the friends and the Hands of the Cause who truly followed the exhortations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and rallied around him with deepest love that Shoghi Effendi was able to sustain the heavy weight of responsibilities with which he was entrusted by the Master. Finally, towards the end of his life, through his guidance and encouragement, a host of itinerant teachers and pioneers won unprecedented victories in all the continents of the globe. The historic achievements in Africa and the spectacular progress during the first years of the Ten Year Crusade brought great joy to his heart.