On November 28, 1921, 'Abdu'l-Bahá died in Acre, Palestine.
Although in the Kitáb-i-'Ahd Bahá'u'lláh designates 'Abdu'l-Bahá's brother Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí as 'Abdu'l-Bahá's successor in his Will, 'Abdu'l-Bahá reprimands his brother as "The Center of Sedition, the Prime Mover of mischief" and establishes the institution of the Guardianship, appointing Shoghi Effendi to this newly-created office.
At the time of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's death in Acre on November 28, 1921, Shoghi Effendi was a twenty-four-year-old student enrolled at Balliol College, Oxford. Upon reading the telegram announcing 'Abdu'l-Bahá's death, in the home of Wellesley Tudor Pole who was Secretary of the London Local Spiritual Assembly, Shoghi Effendi passed out. After spending a few days with John Esslemont, Shoghi Effendi left England on December 16, 1921, accompanied by Lady Blomfield, and arrived in Haifa on December 29. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, addressed to Shoghi Effendi, was read a few days after Shoghi Effendi's arrival in Haifa. The Passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and its Immediate Consequences
While the Guardianship was to be a perpetual institution of the Administrative Order, it ceased to exist after the death of Shoghi Effendi because he died having violated Bahá'u'lláh's command in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas that "Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a will." Having no children of his own and having declared every living male descendant of Bahá'u'lláh a Covenant-breaker, Shoghi Effendi left no eligible candidates for the office of Guardian, posing a serious problem given his assertion that "In this Dispensation, divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet’s ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians." He had furthermore stated in The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh that
Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God. “In all the Divine Dispensations,” He states, in a Tablet addressed to a follower of the Faith in Persia, “the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophethood hath been his birthright.” Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperiled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be gravely endangered. Its prestige would suffer, the means required to enable it to take a long, an uninterrupted view over a series of generations would be completely lacking, and the necessary guidance to define the sphere of the legislative action of its elected representatives would be totally withdrawn.