November 4th, 1957 - Shoghi Effendi dies in loneliness

November 4. On this date in 1957, Shoghi Effendi passed away suddenly at the age of 60 from the Asian flu in London where he was shopping for furniture and ornaments for the International Archives building. 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the necessary guidance to define the sphere of the legislative action of its elected representatives would be totally withdrawn.
It is worth reading and reflecting on how Shoghi Effendi describes in God Passes By the misfortunes, illnesses, and deaths of those individuals he had declared Covenant-breakers...
Mohammad Ali Bahai's brother, Mírzá Ḍíya’u’lláh, died prematurely; Mírzá Áqá Ján, his dupe, followed that same brother, three years later, to the grave; and Mírzá Badí’u’lláh, his chief accomplice, betrayed his cause, published a signed denunciation of his evil acts, but rejoined him again, only to be alienated from him in consequence of the scandalous behavior of his own daughter. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí’s half-sister, Furúghíyyih, died of cancer, whilst her husband, Siyyid ‘Alí, 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. Muḥammad-Javád-i-Qazvíní, a notorious Covenant-breaker, perished miserably. Shu‘á’u’lláh who, as witnessed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will, had counted on the murder of the Center of the Covenant, and who had been despatched to the United States by his father to join forces with Ibráhím Khayru’lláh, returned crestfallen and empty-handed from his inglorious mission. Jamál-i-Burújirdí, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí’s ablest lieutenant in Persia, fell a prey to a fatal and loathsome disease; Siyyid Mihdíy-i-Dahájí, who, betraying ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, joined the Covenant-breakers, died in obscurity and poverty, followed by his wife and his two sons; Mírzá Ḥusayn-‘Alíy-i-Jahrúmí, Mírzá Ḥusayn-i-Shírázíy-i-Khurṭúmí and Ḥájí Muḥammad-Ḥusayn-i-Káshání, who represented the arch-breaker of the Covenant in Persia, India and Egypt, failed utterly in their missions; whilst the greedy and conceited Ibráhím-i-Khayru’lláh, who had chosen to uphold the banner of his rebellion in America for no less than twenty years, and who had the temerity to denounce, in writing, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, His “false teachings, His misrepresentations of Bahaism, His dissimulation,” and to stigmatize His visit to America as “a death-blow” to the “Cause of God,” met his death soon after he had uttered these denunciations, utterly abandoned and despised by the entire body of the members of a community, whose founders he himself had converted to the Faith, and in the very land that bore witness to the multiplying evidences of the established ascendancy of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Whose authority he had, in his later years, vowed to uproot.
As to those who had openly espoused the cause of this arch-breaker of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant Mohammad Ali Bahai, or who had secretly sympathized with him, whilst outwardly supporting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, some eventually repented and were forgiven; others became disillusioned and lost their faith entirely; a few apostatized, whilst the rest dwindled away, leaving him in the end, except for a handful of his relatives, alone and unsupported. Surviving ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by almost twenty years, he who had so audaciously affirmed to His face that he had no assurance he might outlive Him, lived long enough to witness the utter bankruptcy of his cause, leading meanwhile a wretched existence within the walls of a Mansion that had once housed a crowd of his supporters; was denied by the civil authorities, as a result of the crisis he had after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing foolishly precipitated, the official custody of his Father’s Tomb; was compelled, a few years later, to vacate that same Mansion, which, through his flagrant neglect, had fallen into a dilapidated condition; 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.
It should be noted, that because Bahá'í law forbids the "transport the body of the deceased a greater distance than one hour’s journey from the city", Shoghi Effendi was buried at the New Southgate Cemetery in London, far from the Bahá'í holy shrines in Israel. Not far from his grave in Southgate, however, rests Shoghi Effendi's niece Maliheh Afnan, the artist daughter of Ruhangiz Afnan, who Shoghi Effendi had declared a Covenant-breaker for marrying the son of Siyyid Ali Afnan, who 'Abdu'l-Bahá had declared a Covenant-breaker.

Some interesting points about Shoghi Effendi's funeral

  • Shoghi was found dead in the morning on Monday, 4th November. Earlier in the afternoon Ruhiyyih Khanum had cabled the following message to Haifa, "Beloved Guardian desperately ill Asiatic flu tell Leroy inform all National Assemblies inform believers supplicate prayers divine protection Faith." She lied, this lie was later justified as "She could not bear to deal the naked blow to the hearts of other Bahá'ís which she herself had received and had been forced to inflict on three of the Hands, so she sent the above message"!!
  • Ruhiyyih Khanum writes about Shoghi Effendi who died having violated Bahá'u'lláh's command in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas that "Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a will" that "The friends must bear in mind that in all the arrangements made after the passing of the beloved Guardian, the Laws of the Aqdas, which he himself had so repeatedly stressed and constantly upheld, had to be obeyed."
  • On Tuesday afternoon, Ruhiyyih Khanum, Hasan Balyuzi, and Ugo Giachery were taken out to inspect possible sites for the grave in cemeteries within an hour's journey from London. It was raining, and the first cemetery visited had only one plot remotely suitable for the purpose available, which was opposite the massive, depressing vault of a family of the British nobility, and prohibitively expensive, in addition to being very near the entrance gate. Although in the eyes of the world this cemetery must have importance, to the Hands present it was unbefitting and out of the question in every way, and their hearts sank with fear lest they should not find a proper place for their so-dearly-loved Guardian. God had other plans however, for on motoring in the twilight to inspect the second cemetery, they entered a beautiful, peaceful spot on a hill, surrounded by rolling country, where birds sang in the trees and which had an entirely different atmosphere from the pomp and worldliness of the first. (I think, the plot was very expensive, she could not buy it so it was termed as such, typical Baha'i style) The Superintendent escorted them to the best piece of land he had, on the highest part, and in the centre of the cemetery. It adjoined one of the roads and was bounded by three great trees which cast their shade over it. The peaceful woods of the countryside, where birds will make their nests in spring, lay close to it on one side. It was over thirty metres square, and Ruhiyyih Khanum made arrangements to purchase it immediately, instructions being given to build a strong, deep vault. The Hands then proceeded to the undertaker's, to choose a suitable casket for the 'precious remains' of Shoghi Effendi.
  • After much deliberation it was decided that for the present, as well as the future, the wisest course would be to have a lead coffin which could be hermetically sealed, and that this should be placed in a beautiful bronze casket, the most dignified, costly and enduring that could be found. By doing this the Hands were assured that in the future, when the means of transport become so rapid that the journey from London to Haifa can be accomplished in an hour, it would be possible to convey the sacred remains of the Guardian to the Holy Land.
  • On Tuesday afternoon, Ruhiyyih Khanum, accompanied by Amelia Collins, drove out to the cemetery and made arrangements with a florist in the neighbourhood for the decoration of the Chapel, and for the sheath of flowers which was to cover the coffin.
  • On Thursday at two o'clock Ruhiyyih Khanum and Adelbert Muhlschlegel drove to the place where the body of Shoghi was to be washed. She had already purchased nine yards of the heaviest and finest white silk available and nine yards of a slightly lighter weight for the first shroud, as well as towels and cloths and soap to wash the body. 
  • The body of Shoghi was annointed with attar-of-rose which he himself gave to Ugo Giachery, who had brought it from Italy with him. 
  • The coffin was then closed, a pall of purple and gold was spread over it, and a bouquet of flowers Ruhiyyih Khanum had brought with her was placed on the top.
  • On Friday evening, Ruhiyyih Khanum and Amelia Collins drove out to the cemetery to inspect the Chapel and the grave. The florist was following his instructions very carefully and making every effort to create an atmosphere of beauty worthy of this 'sacred occasion'. 
  • The coffin was to rest on a low catafalque covered by a rich green velvet pall, the colour to which the descendants of Muhammad are entitled by their illustrious lineage, and which the Guardian, as a Siyyid himself, through his kinship to the Báb, had every right to bear with him to the grave. 
  • Arrangements had been made to have the funeral cortège assemble about ten o'clock (on Saturday) before the Hazíratu'l-Quds, at 27 Rutland Gate, opposite Hyde Park; from here, those believers who were not going direct to the cemetery would be driven by special cars which would follow the hearse. More than sixty automobiles, accommodating over three hundred and sixty people, moved off in solemn file at 10.40 and journeyed to the place where they were joined by the hearse bearing the coffin of Shoghi Effendi. This was preceded by a floral hearse and followed by the car in which rode Ruhiyyih Khanum accompanied by Amelia Collins; cars bearing the other Hands, National Spiritual Assembly members, Auxiliary Board members and believers followed behind. It was probably the largest column of vehicles seen in London for many years in attendance on a funeral of any denomination. 
  • Leroy Ioas promptly informed the Israeli authorities in a befitting manner of the sudden death of Shoghi Effendi.
  • No Government official of any country was present except Gershon Avner.
The Israeli authorities had instructed the Chargé d'Affaires at the Israeli Embassy in London, Mr Gershon Avner, to attend the funeral on behalf of the Government (the Ambassador being absent from his post).
  • His presence was considered as "The spontaneous gesture of esteem"by Ruhiyyih Khanum.

Who is Gershon Avner ?

Source :

  • All this time—a service that had lasted almost four hours—the representative of the Israeli Government, obviously deeply moved, had been in attendance, himself stepping beside the coffin and, with bowed head, paying his solemn respects.

  • Ruhiyyih Khanum then had the green pall spread over it, laid the blue-and-gold brocade from the innermost Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh on top of it and arranged the still-fragrant jasmine flowers over all its length.
Source :

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