The failed Office of Guardianship in the Baha'i faith.



On October 6, 1963, the Universal House of Justice sent a message to all National Spiritual Assemblies stating that "the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi."

The Universal House of Justice

6 October 1963

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Beloved Friends,

We wish to share with you the text of the following resolution:

After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consideration of the views of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.

Please share this message with the friends in your jurisdiction.

With loving greetings,

[signed: The Universal House of Justice]

The Guardianship is now a defunct hereditary office of the Bahá'í Faith that was first mentioned in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi was named as the first Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, and future Guardians were to be appointed from among the male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh. However, since Shoghi Effendi died without having named a successor Guardian, the institution ceased to exist after his death on November 4, 1957, and Shoghi Effendi remains the only individual acknowledged as Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith.

The Will and Testament of 'Abdu’l-Bahá was written by 'Abdu’l-Bahá on three different occasions, and the text remains in three parts. In his Will 'Abdu’l-Bahá addresses the Bahá'í Covenant and the role of Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí as a Covenant-breaker; outlines the obligation and responsibilities of the Hands of the Cause of God; explains the election of the Universal House of Justice; and defines the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office with its essential function as Interpreter of the Bahá'í writings. Shoghi Effendi describes the Will, along with the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Tablets of the Divine Plan, and the Tablet of Carmel, as one of the charters of the Bahá'í Administrative Order.

Appointing Shoghi Effendi as Guardian

Although in the Kitáb-i-'Ahd Bahá'u'lláh designates 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:

"O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsán (Branches), the Afnán (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abhá 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, he unto whom all the Aghsán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents."

"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 Afnán, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One. Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Bahá’u’lláh) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation. To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.
The Glory of Glories rest upon you!"

Defining the Guardianship as Hereditary

The Guardian is to appoint in his own life-time his successor from among the Aghsán:

"O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:—“The child is the secret essence of its sire,” that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.

Guardian and Hands of the Cause of God

The Guardian is to appoint the Hands of the Cause of God who are to be under his direction and obey his command:

"O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command. Should any, within or without the company of the Hands of the Cause of God disobey and seek division, the wrath of God and His vengeance will be upon him, for he will have caused a breach in the true Faith of God."

"This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the Guardian of the Cause of God. He must continually urge them to strive and endeavor to the utmost of their ability to diffuse the sweet savors of God, and to guide all the peoples of the world, for it is the light of Divine Guidance that causeth all the universe to be illumined. To disregard, though it be for a moment, this absolute command which is binding upon everyone, is in no wise permitted, that the existent world may become even as the Abhá Paradise, that the surface of the earth may become heavenly, that contention and conflict amidst peoples, kindreds, nations and governments may disappear, that all the dwellers on earth may become one people and one race, that the world may become even as one home. Should differences arise, they shall be amicably and conclusively settled by the Supreme Tribunal, that shall include members from all the governments and peoples of the world.

"The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the Guardian of the Cause of God. The election of these nine must be carried either unanimously or by majority from the company of the Hands of the Cause of God and these, whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor. This assent must be given in such wise as the assenting and dissenting voices may not be distinguished (i.e., secret ballot)."

Guardian and the Universal House of Justice

The Guardian is to be the head of the Universal House of Justice and either attend its deliberations in person or appoint a representative to do so:

"By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the Guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him. Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the Guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to [Covenant-breaker|expel him]], whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead. This House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise itself."

Recipient of Huqúqu'lláh

'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will stipulates that Huqúqu'lláh, which had been made directly to Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá during their life times, would henceforth be made to the Guardian.

"O friends of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá! The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Ḥuqúq), to be dutifully presented unto Him, though He, the True One and His servants have been at all times independent of all created things, and God verily is the All-Possessing, exalted above the need of any gift from His creatures. This fixed money offering, however, causeth the people to become firm and steadfast and draweth Divine increase upon them. It is to be offered through the Guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be expended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal."

Shoghi Effendi Defines the Guardian

As Guardian, Shoghi Effendi held a new and distinct role. Building on the foundation that had been established in 'Abdu’l-Bahá's Will, Shoghi Effendi elaborated on the role of the Guardian in the developing Bahá'í Administrative Order in several works, including Bahá'í Administration and the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, in the chapter entitled The Administrative Order.

Distinct Institution

Shoghi Effendi goes to great lengths to emphasize that the Guardianship is a distinct station from that of Manifestation or Center of the Covenant:

"Dearly-beloved friends! Exalted as is the position and vital as is the function of the institution of the Guardianship in the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh, and staggering as must be the weight of responsibility which it carries, its importance must, whatever be the language of the Will, be in no wise over-emphasized. The Guardian of the Faith must not under any circumstances, and whatever his merits or his achievements, be exalted to the rank that will make him a co-sharer with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the unique position which the Center of the Covenant occupies—much less to the station exclusively ordained for the Manifestation of God. So grave a departure from the established tenets of our Faith is nothing short of open blasphemy. As I have already stated, in the course of my references to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s station, however great the gulf that separates Him from the Author of a Divine Revelation it can never measure with the distance that stands between Him Who is the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant and the Guardians who are its chosen ministers. There is a far, far greater distance separating the Guardian from the Center of the Covenant than there is between the Center of the Covenant and its Author."
Shoghi Effendi was critical of Bahá'ís referring to him as a holy personage, asking them not to celebrate his birthday or have his picture on display. Furthermore, he did not refer to his own personal role as an individual, but instead to the institution of the Guardianship. In his correspondences, Shoghi Effendi signed his letters to Bahá'ís as "brother" and "co-worker," to the extent that even when addressing youth, he referred to himself as "Your True Brother."

"No Guardian of the Faith, I feel it my solemn duty to place on record, can ever claim to be the perfect exemplar of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh or the stainless mirror that reflects His light. Though overshadowed by the unfailing, the unerring protection of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb, and however much he may share with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the right and obligation to interpret the Bahá’í teachings, he remains essentially human and cannot, if he wishes to remain faithful to his trust, arrogate to himself, under any pretense whatsoever, the rights, the privileges and prerogatives which Bahá’u’lláh has chosen to confer upon His Son. In the light of this truth to pray to the Guardian of the Faith, to address him as lord and master, to designate him as his holiness, to seek his benediction, to celebrate his birthday, or to commemorate any event associated with his life would be tantamount to a departure from those established truths that are enshrined within our beloved Faith. The fact that the Guardian has been specifically endowed with such power as he may need to reveal the purport and disclose the implications of the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá does not necessarily confer upon him a station co-equal with those Whose words he is called upon to interpret. He can exercise that right and discharge this obligation and yet remain infinitely inferior to both of them in rank and different in nature."

Importance of the Guardianship

Shoghi Effendi goes to great lengths to emphasize the significance of the "Institution of Guardianship," which he calls the "head cornerstone of the Administrative Order of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh,"

"He feels that if ... ponders more deeply about the fundamentals of Divine Revelation, she will also come to understand the Guardianship. Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a Mouthpiece, a human being, a Prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardians. The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e., the Guardians'), guided directly by the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by 'this is the day which will not be followed by the night'. 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. If a person can accept Bahá'u'lláh's function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained a divinely-guided individual in matters pertaining to His Faith."

"Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members, but is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh’s revealed utterances. He interprets what has been specifically revealed, and cannot legislate except in his capacity as member of the Universal House of Justice. He is debarred from laying down independently the constitution that must govern the organized activities of his fellow-members, and from exercising his influence in a manner that would encroach upon the liberty of those whose sacred right is to elect the body of his collaborators."

Separation of Powers

Shoghi Effendi delineates a distinct separation of powers between the "twin pillars that support this mighty Administrative Structure—the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice."

"It should be stated, at the very outset, in clear and unambiguous language, that these twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh should be regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose. Their common, their fundamental object is to insure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings. Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions administer its affairs, cöordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions. Severally, each operates within a clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction; each is equipped with its own attendant institutions—instruments designed for the effective discharge of its particular responsibilities and duties. Each exercises, within the limitations imposed upon it, its powers, its authority, its rights and prerogatives. These are neither contradictory, nor detract in the slightest degree from the position which each of these institutions occupies. Far from being incompatible or mutually destructive, they supplement each other’s authority and functions, and are permanently and fundamentally united in their aims.
"From these statements it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the teachings. 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 judgment on such laws and ordinances as Bahá’u’lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested."

Interpreter of the Word of God and Source of Divine Guidance

As Guardian, Shoghi Effendi was the "Interpreter of the Word of God," "with the right and obligation to interpret the Bahá’í teachings." His interpretations of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá were authoritative and binding.

"He feels that if ... ponders more deeply about the fundamentals of Divine Revelation, she will also come to understand the Guardianship. Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a Mouthpiece, a human being, a Prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardians. The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e., the Guardians'), guided directly by the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by 'this is the day which will not be followed by the night'. 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. If a person can accept Bahá'u'lláh's function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained a divinely-guided individual in matters pertaining to His Faith."

Hereditary

Shoghi Effendi reiterates the hereditary nature of the Guardianship as was first laid out in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá's Will.

"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."

"The hereditary authority which the Guardian is called upon to exercise, the vital and essential functions which the Universal House of Justice discharges, the specific provisions requiring its democratic election by the representatives of the faithful—these combine to demonstrate the truth that this divinely revealed Order, which can never be identified with any of the standard types of government referred to by Aristotle in his works, embodies and blends with the spiritual verities on which it is based the beneficent elements which are to be found in each one of them. The admitted evils inherent in each of these systems being rigidly and permanently excluded, this unique Order, however long it may endure and however extensive its ramifications, cannot ever degenerate into any form of despotism, of oligarchy, or of demagogy which must sooner or later corrupt the machinery of all man-made and essentially defective political institutions."

Expulsion and excommunication

The Guardian has the power to declare Bahá'ís who cause disunity in the Faith as Covenant-breakers:

"The Guardian alone holds the power to expulsion or ex-communication from the Faith, which can be effected by the Guardian alone in his capacity as the supreme spiritual head of the Community, has far-reaching spiritual implications affecting the very soul of that believer."

"ex-communication, which lies within the powers of the Guardian alone, and is consequently a very weighty weapon to wield."

"People who have withdrawn from the Cause because they no longer feel that they can support its Teachings and Institutions sincerely, are not Covenant-breakers--they are non-Bahá'ís and should just be treated as such. Only those who ally themselves actively with known enemies of the Faith who are Covenant-breakers, and who attack the Faith in the same spirit as these people, can be considered, themselves, to be Covenant-breakers. As you know, up to the present time, no one has been permitted to pronounce anybody a Covenant-breaker but the Guardian himself."

After Shoghi Effendi

Although the Kitáb-i-Aqdas requires every Bahá'í to have a will, Shoghi Effendi did not have one when he passed away unexpectedly of Asian flu on November 4, 1957 in London, England. Shoghi Effendi did not have any children and had not designated a successor Guardian. With all living male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh having been declared Covenant-breakers by either `Abdu'l-Bahá or Shoghi Effendi, no suitable qualifying candidates remained for appointment to the office of Guardian. On November 19, 1957, nine of the Hands of the Cause issued an "Official Statement" after searching through Shogi Effendi's personal affects in Haifa, Israel, affirming that "the safe and desk have been opened and searched and the non existence of a Will and Testament executed by Shoghi Effendi was definitely established." A subsequent "Unanimous Proclamation of the 27 Hands of the Cause of God" on November 25 confirmed that Shoghi Effendi had died "without having appointed his successor." The Hands of the Cause of God elected from among their own nine individuals who would serve as Custodians to help lead the transition of the International Bahá'í Council, whose members had previously been appointed by Shoghi Effendi, into the Universal House of Justice, whose members are elected by all the members of each Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly in the world.[48]

On April 8, 1960, Mason Remey, the architect of the Bahá'í Houses of Worship in Uganda and Australia who Shoghi Effendi had appointed a Hand of the Cause and President of the International Bahá'í Council, issued a written announcement claiming that he was the second Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. He based his claim on the idea that by appointing him as President of the International Bahá'í Council, the embryonic form of the Universal House of Justice which would be led by the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi had in fact implicitly named him as the second Guardian. Mason Remey's claim was largely rejected with several notable exceptions, including five members of the National Spiritual Assembly of France lead by Joel Marangella. The remaining 26 Hands of the Cause unanimously declared Remey and whoever followed him Covenant-breakers.

The Universal House of Justice, the only institution authorized to adjudicate on situations not covered in scripture, later announced that it could not legislate to make possible the appointment of a successor Guardian to Shoghi Effendi. The Universal House of Justice also determined that it could not appoint any further Hands of the Cause, whose work is now carried out by other appointed institutions such as the Continental Counsellors and the Auxiliary Boards. 

Source : https://reddit.com/r/onthisdateinbahai

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I wrote two blog entries detailing these same issues.

    https://dalehusband.com/2008/09/07/the-fatal-flaw-in-bahai-authority/

    https://dalehusband.com/2010/03/21/bahais-must-reject-the-guardianship/

    Also, I wrote this:
    https://dalehusband.com/2017/06/28/facts-worth-repeating-about-shoghi-effendi/

    Shoghi Effendi was as two-faced as it gets, making himself look humble before most Baha'is, while treating his own relatives like dirt and insulting them in public statements. Two of the worst examples involve a brother of his and a cousin of his marrying non-Baha'is. There is no prohibition of Baha'is marrying non-Baha'is, but Shoghi Effendi expelled the cousin because his new wife was the daughter of a Muslim and Palestinian activist, while he attacked his new sister-in-law as merely a "low-born Christian girl". The arrogance of that comment alone should sicken anyone who takes seriously the Baha'i claims about the oneness of humanity and the oneness of religion.

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    1. There is also this:
      http://bahaileaders9.blogspot.com/2016/03/shoghi-effendi-was-dictator.html

      {{{Perhaps the clearest illustration of the Baha’i Guardian’s attitude can be found in a polemical, triumphalistic history of the Baha’i faith he wrote called God Passes By. In the following passage of that book, he indulges in bone-chilling schadenfreude, recounting with relish the misfortunes, illnesses and deaths of some of the people he considered to be “Covenant-breakers” and taking comically immature potshots at their memory:

      {{[Mohammed Ali Bahai’s] brother, Mirza Diya’ullah,[16] died prematurely; Mirza Aqa Jan [Kashani], his dupe, followed that same brother, three years later, to the grave;... Mirza Muhammad- ‘Ali’s half-sister, Furughiyyih,[17] died of cancer, whilst her hus­band, Siyyid ‘Ali [Afnan], passed away from a heart attack before his sons could reach him, the eldest being subsequently stricken in the prime of life, by the same malady. Muhammad-Javad-i- Qazvini,[18] a notorious Covenant-breaker, perished miserably. ... Jamal-i-Burujirdi,[19] Mirza Muhammad Ali's ablest lieutenant in Persia, fell a prey to a fatal and loathsome disease; Siyyid Mihdiy- i-Dahaji,[20] who, betraying ‘Abdu’l-Baha, joined the Covenant-breakers, died in obscurity and poverty, followed by his wife and his two sons;...

      [Mohammed Ali Bahai] was stricken with paralysis which crippled half his body; lay bedridden in pain for months before he died; and was buried according to Muslim rites, in the immediate vicinity of a local Muslim shrine, his grave remaining until the present day devoid of even a tombstone—a pitiful reminder of the hollowness of the claims he had advanced, of the depths of infamy to which he had sunk, and of the severity of the retribution his acts had so richly merited.[21]}}

      As for Shoghi Effendi himself, he and his wife found themselves unable to have children. With no heirs, and having excommunicated every living descendant of Baha’u’llah but himself, there was no one eligible to be appointed as his successor in accordance with the provi­sions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, so the office of the Guardianship became permanently vacant upon his passing. He died suddenly of the Asian flu, at the age of 60, while visiting London in 1957. His grave is located in that city instead of among the Baha’i shrines in Israel, because, according to Baha’i law, a body cannot be moved more than one hour’s journey from the place of death.[22] He failed to leave a will, violating Baha’u’llah’s command that “Unto every­one hath been enjoined the writing of a will,”[23] and thus the Baha’is had no clear guidance for how their faith should be led without a sec­ond Guardian after his passing.}}}

      A clear case of "what goes around comes around". The Guardian was as cursed as the people he himself stigmatized. He deserves nothing but contempt for his hypocrisy!

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    2. Few months ago I made a video on Shoghi, you may like to see it here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFeo-aQ7DWU

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