“At the World Center of the Faith, where, at long last the machinery of its highest institutions has been erected and around whose most holy shrines the supreme organs of its unfolding Order, are, in their embryonic form unfolding. . .”

Shoghi Effendi, 30 June 1952

What were these “highest institutions” and these “supreme organs” of this “unfolding Order” that Shoghi had “at long last” erected “in their embryonic form” at the World Center of the Faith?

These “highest institutions,” erected by Shoghi Effendi, in their “embryonic form,” were none other than the Universal House of Justice—this “first embryonic International Institution”—that he had appointed on 9 January 1951, in the only Proclamation he had issued during his ministry and which he had designated, in the first stage of a projected four-fold development, as the “International Bahá’í Council” and his subsequent appointment on 24 December 1951 of twelve Hands of the Cause, as the first contingent of that Institution that he would subsequently increase to a total of twenty-seven by the close of his ministry.

Shoghi Effendi’s statement above, found in his message of 30 June 1952, only reaffirmed the “historic decision” he had earlier made in his Proclamation of 9 January 1951, when he had first appointed the International Bahá’í Councilthe embryonic Universal House of Justice—and had acclaimed the constitution of this Council as: “the most significant milestone in (the) evolution of (the) Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the course of the last thirty years.” And he had further acclaimed the unprecedented and momentous importance of this decision, in stating: “Hail with thankful joyous heart at long last the constitution of the International Council which history will acclaim as the greatest event shedding luster upon the second epoch of (the) Formative Age of (the) Bahá’í Dispensation potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since the inception of (the) Administrative Order of the Faith on (the) morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Ascension.”

More than two years prior to the establishment of the International Bahá’í Council, Shoghi Effendi had addressed a letter to the United Nations Special Palestine Committee in July 1947 and, in discussing the Bahá’í Administrative Order, he had referred to his plans to establish this International Council in stating that: “the foundations are now being laid by the national and local councils” and are “paving the way for the constitution of the World Council, to be designated as the Universal House of Justice, which, in conjunction with me, as its appointed Head and the authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í teachings, must coordinate and direct the affairs of the Bahá’í community . . .”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá has clearly pointed out that “the embryo possesses from the first all perfections . . . in one word, all the powers–but they are not visible, and become so only by degrees.” (p. 313, BWF) Therefore, it should be crystal clear and undeniable that these two embryonic institutions and “supreme organs” of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, that had, “at long last,” been erected by Shoghi Effendi, during the closing years of his ministry, were not provisional, transitory or incomplete institutions that would later be replaced, but were unquestionably completely whole, and perfect institutions “from the first” that he had established in faithful compliance with the terms of the sacred and immutable provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Only the functions of these two “supreme organs” would be progressively and appropriately expanded during the course of their future development. As an example, Shoghi Effendi, in his message of 25 April 1951, stated that the International Bahá’í Council would become, in its second stage of development, an International Bahá’í Court, a stage that he emphasized would be an “essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice.” This International Court would then exercise jurisdiction over “six national Bahá’í Courts in the chief cities of the Islamic East, (Tihrán, Cairo, Baghdád, New Delhi, Karachi, Kabul) whose establishment, as stated in his message of 8 October 1952, would be one of the goals of the “decade-long, world-embracing Spiritual Crusade” that would commence at Ridván 1953.

As only the Guardian permanently presides as the “sacred head” of the Universal House of Justice under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, why had Shoghi Effendi not assumed the Presidency himself of its embryonic entity—the International Bahá’í Council—but, in appointing its membership and designating its officers, had appointed as its President, Hand of the Cause, Mason Remey, who, if the Council were to immediately become an actively functioning administrative body, he would then have to either depose Mason Remey and assume the Presidency himself or otherwise have to abdicate the Guardianship. Shoghi Effendi had therefore, of necessity, retained the International Council, as an inactively functioning body during the remaining years of his ministry, as confirmed by Mason Remey, who has stated that Shoghi Effendi never instructed him to activate the Council. For this same reason, Shoghi Effendi had appointed Rúhiyyíh Khánum, in his message of 8 March 1952, as the “chosen liaison” between himself and the Council, which would preclude any semblance of assuming direction of the Council himself. In this way Shoghi Effendi carefully retained the Council as an inactive body during the remaining years of his ministry, and only assigned tasks, from time to time, to individual members. As further evidence of its inactive status, is the fact that the members whom he had appointed as Secretary-General, Hand of the Cause, Leroy Ioas, and his two Assistant Secretaries, for the East and West respectively (Lotfullah Hakim and Ethel Revell), never wrote a single letter in these secretarial capacities, at the direction of Mason Remey, as President of the Council, during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi.

Why had Shoghi Effendi not assumed the Presidency of the International Bahá’í Council himself and had instead appointed Mason Remey as its President? In accordance with the explicit terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi had to appoint his successor “in his own life-time” and not by a conventional testamentary document that would have been opened following his passing. Having foreseen as early as 1951 that his ministry would be soon coming to an end, the evidence of which will be provided below, he would have realized that he could defer no longer the appointment of a successor. However, he was faced with a particular dilemma in openly identifying the one whom he had chosen as his successor. This was because the one whom he would appoint, was neither a young man, nor a Persian believer, as undoubtedly the believers would anticipate, but a highly distinguished Hand of the Cause who was some twenty-three years his senior, in the person of Mason Remey, whose manifold, exemplary and unique services to the Faith, for more than half a century, had been unmatched by any other male believer, and one who had been greatly loved, highly praised for his fidelity to the Covenant and frequently eulogized by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the most glowing terms and most significantly had been promised in one of His Tablets that: ere long, thy Lord shall make thee a sign of guidance among mankind.” (Star of the Covenant, Vol.V, No. 19, 2 March 1915)

Shoghi Effendi, therefore had certainly realized that, due to the frightful implication that would be drawn from openly naming Mason Remey as his successor, who, despite his advanced age, was obviously destined to outlive him, he would, if he were to faithfully comply with the terms ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament, have to initially obscure this appointment, in such a manner, that the frightful implication, that would otherwise be discerned, would not be perceived by the believers, either at the time, or during the remaining years of his ministry. For, if, otherwise, he were to appoint Mason Remey more openly and thereby clearly reveal to the believers the prospect of his own early passing, he certainly realized that this knowledge would certainly prove to be such a devastating, unthinkable and incredulous shock to them that it would possibly be the cause of such widespread consternation in the Bahá’í world that it would seriously impede, and put at risk, the successful inauguration and achievement, at least, in its opening years, of the projected goals of the Ten Year Global Crusade, scheduled to soon commence at Ridván 1953.

Shoghi Effendi found the ingenious solution to his dilemma in his formation of the International Bahá’í Council, as the instrument through which, by appointing Mason Remey as the President of this embryonic Universal House of Justice and by retaining this body in an inactive status during the remaining years of his ministry, he could unquestionably appoint, in this indirect and unobtrusive manner, and thereby hopefully obscure, at the time, the identity of his successor.

As it has turned out, Shoghi Effendi had correctly anticipated that the believers would not perceive, either, at the time, nor during the remaining years of his ministry, that he had made this appointment of such overriding importance, in this indirect way, and thus had successfully concealed from the believers the fact that his ministry was destined to come to an end in the near future, with his demise actually taking place some seven years later. However, would he have foreseen or expected the Hands of the Cause, following his passing, to so quickly lose faith in the Covenant and in the sacred and inviolable provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá? Or could he have imagined that, in the light of all that he had written emphasizing the essentiality and the uninterrupted continuance of the Guardianship down through the centuries to come of the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, that the Hands would incredulously, in effect, declare the major provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá null and void? The fact that the Hands had found it necessary to convene a conclave in ‘Akká, some three weeks following his passing where they had undertaken a search for a will and testament left by him, contrary to the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, that clearly enjoins the Guardian to appoint his successor “in his own life-time,” should have alerted them to the realization that they had obviously, not only lost sight of the specific terms of that Will but they had obviously failed to perceive this appointment that Shoghi Effendi would have unquestionably made during the course of his ministry, in complete fidelity to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sacred Mandate, in a way that they had not anticipated.

As a result, the Hands incredibly, and with undue haste, reached the unwarranted and tragic conclusion that the Guardianship had ended. Although Shoghi Effendi had purposely and successfully veiled the appointment of his successor, for the reasons discussed above, he certainly would not have expected that the obscurity with which he had veiled the appointment of his successor during the remaining years of his ministry would not be discovered, following his passing and that the Hands would then incredibly announce to the Bahá’í world that Shoghi Effendi had been unable to appoint a successor, based on a patently false claim that it was because: “The Aghsán (branches) one and all are either dead or have been declared violators of the Covenant by the Guardian for their faithlessness to the Master’s Will and Testament and their hostility to him named first Guardian in that sacred document.”

In this inordinately hasty decision to declare the Guardianship of the Cause ended, they had failed to take any time whatsoever to review Shoghi Effendi’s historic and epoch-making messages to the Bahá’í world, such as those cited above, or actions that he had taken that would have disclosed the identity of his successor and enabled them to discover that Shoghi Effendi, faithful, as ever, to every Mandate of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had faithfully appointed his successor in the manner discussed above. They further had disregarded the extensive writings of Shoghi Effendi on the Bahá’í Administrative Order, such as those found in his work titled, “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, in which he had so importantly explained the divine genesis of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in that wonderful passage stating: “The creative energies released by the Law of Bahá’u’lláh permeating and evolving within the mind of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, have by their very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation” and, therefore, this Document was nothing less than a co-authored Will and Testament, reflecting the Will of Bahá’u’lláh, as well, and actually, as such: “their Will and Testament,“ as asserted by Shoghi Effendi in the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh (p.22). How incredulous it is that in the light of such pronouncements by Shoghi Effendi, the Hands of the Cause would now consider that this divinely-conceived Instrument had already become invalid thirty-six years after the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. If one reviews the Will and Testament, translated into English by Shoghi Effendi and dispatched to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada in February of 1922, it states that, in the event that the Guardian does not have an eligible first-born son to inherit the Guardianship, he must “choose another branch to succeed him.” As Shoghi Effendi has clearly defined the Aghsán as the sons of Bahá’u’lláh (on page 239 of God Passes By) and as these sons, had long since died, they therefore, even if they had remained faithful, could never have been considered by Shoghi Effendi, or could have been appointed by him as his successor. In ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s statement, authorizing the Guardian to appoint “another branch” to succeed him, He has simply stipulated that the Guardian may chose another spiritually qualified male believer who possesses the requisite spiritual and intellectual qualifications that He has specified in that sacred Document. As further proof that the Aghsán, because of their infidelity to the Covenant, had already been written off by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His ministry may be found in comparing Part One of His Will and Testament with Part Three (penned at a later date) for in Part One He states: “it is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God . . .” whereas in Part Three, reference to the Aghsán is significantly omitted where He, again, enjoins fidelity to the Guardian, in stating: “For he is, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the guardian of the Cause of God, [and] the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey and turn unto him.”

The future non-Bahá’í enquirer, who may be examining, for the first time, the facts pertaining to the Institution of the Guardianship in the Faith, will learn that Shoghi Effendi’s Canadian-born widow, Rúhíyyih Khánum, had served as his very capable secretary for some twenty years and had also written several articles of her own. In her article titled: Twenty-Five Years of the Guardianship she had emphasized, in the strongest terms, the absolute essentiality of the Guardianship. She had come to be considered by the Bahá’ís as exercising an authority in the Faith, second only to Shoghi Effendi. Accordingly, upon the passing of Shoghi Effendi, and as the Hands had failed to recognize both Shoghi Effendi’s appointed successor, and the primacy vested in the International Bahá’í Council, the Hands, as well as all of the believers, turned to her, quite understandably, for leadership in this time of crisis. This leadership role continued to be exercised by her upon the convening of the first conclave of the Hands in ‘Akká some three weeks following the passing of Shoghi Effendi. Perhaps, due to the terrible shock she had sustained upon Shoghi Effendi’s sudden death, it had so affected her attitude on the essentiality of the Guardianship to the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh that she completely reversed her previous firm stand on the essentiality of this Institution and the undeniable necessity for its uninterrupted continuation. as provided for under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. For she even amazingly informed the Hands, as recorded in the Dairy of Mason Remey, that if they were to recognize a second Guardian of the Faith, she would leave Haifa and they would never hear from her again. She, therefore, exercised an overpowering influence over the Hands in their deliberations, which could well have influenced them in reaching their hasty conclusion, at the very outset of that conclave, that the Institution of the Guardianship, designed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to endure as long as the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh itself endured, had come to a tragic and untimely end.

The remaining question is why Mason Remey had not been more assertive at this first conclave and insisted that his fellow-Hands consider the basis upon which he had indisputably and rightfully inherited the Guardianship, in the manner discussed above. Frankly, he had not yet perceived, himself, the connection between his appointment by Shoghi Effendi to the Presidency of the International Bahá’í Council and his consequent accession to the Guardianship that would be realized upon the activation of that supreme administrative institution of the Faith. Therefore, he was in no position then to present himself to them as the second Guardian of the Faith. Mason Remey was a very humble and self-effacing man and as he has explained in his writings he did not want to bring about a breach in his relationship with his fellow-Hands over the question of the continuing Guardianship, that incidentally he had never for a single moment doubted in his own mind, as any dispute amongst them would certainly soon become known throughout the Bahá’í world and reflect adversely on this institution. However, as he had been summoned by Shoghi Effendi in 1950 to come to Haifa and make it his permanent home, he had naturally been appointed by his fellow-Hands as a member of the body of “Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith.” His writings, as recorded in his “Daily Observations . . .” reflect his almost daily remonstrations and earnest pleadings with his fellow-members not to permanently abandon the Guardianship and to reconsider their obstinate stand against its reestablishment, all to no avail. In the second conclave of the Hands, he records that he had requested that his fellow-Hands reconsider the question of the Guardianship and was immediately ruled out of order as the question had been settled in the first conclave.

The Hands of the Cause, having disastrously failed to perceive that Shoghi Effendi had faithfully appointed his successor, under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and clearly lacking any authority whatsoever under the provisions of that Will to do so, relegated the International Bahá’í Council to a minor and subordinate role to themselves and thus prevented Mason Remey, as the President of that body, and now the unrecognized second Guardian of the Faith, from exercising the authority that had rightfully become his to activate and properly preside over this Council in the performance of its function as the supreme legislative (and later judiciary) institution of the Faith.

Instead, the Hands of the Cause then unbelievably appointed a substitute body of their own making that was completely outside of the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, comprised of nine Hands appointed by them from their number upon which they conferred the appellation: The Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith,” a clearly illegitimate body that they reprehensibly and shamelessly proclaimed to the Bahá’í World on 25 November 1957 would exercise “all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith” and further, in a resolution published on the same date, stated: “The Custodians shall be deemed to succeed the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.” Thus, ignominiously, they abolished the twin Institutions of the Bahá’í Administrative Order and vested, in an illegitimate single ruling body of so-called Custodians, also identified as the “The Bahá’í Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land,” both executive and legislative functions, blatantly disregarding thereby the emphasis that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had placed in His Will and Testament on the essential requirement that the Bahá’í Administrative Order have both executive and legislative institutions, for, as He stated: through the union and harmony of these two forces the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong” and in their “close union and harmony”—they will “aid and assist” and “reinforce” each other.

In thus assuming direction of the Faith and in their usurpation of the authority that rightfully belonged to the International Bahá’í Council, the Hands had further either blatantly ignored or overlooked Shoghi Effendi’s message of 23 November 1951, in which he had clearly projected the future active role of the International Council, during the impending Ten Year Global Crusade, as he had stated that this role would bring the “Central Body directing these widely ramified operations into direct contact with all the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá’í world” as they labored to achieve their respective goals. As the active role of the Council during the Crusade, that would soon begin, would be under the Presidency of Mason Remey, this could only take place if Shoghi Effendi were no longer Guardian of the Faith. Therefore, Shoghi Effendi had again, in this indirect way, unmistakably alluded to his passing that would take place sometime during the period of that Crusade. If the Hands had, as a result of the foregoing, become convinced that they would be able to identify the Guardian’s successor, if they were to reexamine carefully the decisions and pronouncements that Shoghi Effendi had made during his ministry, they then may have, in reviewing Shoghi Effendi’s momentous Proclamation of 9 January 1951, discovered to their surprise and delight, the key to the continuity of the Guardianship in Shoghi Effendi appointment of Mason Remey (first identified, as such, in his message of 2 March 1951) as the President of the International Bahá’í Council—the embryonic Universal House of Justice. For, the head of this body, upon its activation, could be none other than the Guardian of the Faith, according to the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. But, unfortunately they did not do this with serious consequences for the future of the Faith.

After Mason Remey had displayed forbearance towards his fellow-Hands for more than two years, while still remaining in Haifa, during which time he had persistently and fruitlessly attempted in the almost daily arguments he presented to the Custodian Hands to persuade them reexamine and change their unacceptable stand against the continuance of the Guardianship, he had failed to do so. He then decided in 1959 to leave Haifa and return to the United States. From there he addressed several lengthy written appeals to them, setting forth extensive and brilliant arguments in support of the essentiality of the Guardianship and the need for its reestablishment in accordance with Holy Writ, to which they turned a deaf ear. Finally, losing all hope of any success in this endeavor, he then issued a Proclamation at Ridván 1960, addressed to the Bahá’í world through the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, in which he set forth in cogent and valid arguments proof of his rightful accession to the Guardianship. Not only did his fellow-Hands then reject out of hand and refute his rightful accession to the Guardianship, but the Custodian Hands in Haifa immediately dispatched instructions to all National Spiritual Assemblies to do likewise. These assemblies, with a single notable exception, immediately complied even though their respective members had not been given the opportunity to read the Proclamation for themselves, much less do so in translated versions, in those countries where English was not understood and thus afforded the opportunity to adjudge for themselves the validity of Mason Remey’s accession to the Guardianship. The NSA of France, which fortunately had received directly a copy of his Proclamation, became a notable exception for this assembly had, following its study of pertinent references and due consultation, voted to accept his Guardianship, an action which resulted in its speedy dissolution by the Hands, although they lacked such authority to do so under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Mason Remey was then severely castigated by the Hands of the Cause, who, in their further lack of authority, named him a Covenant-breaker. In their final act of infamy they then cast him out of the Faith, which had now become for the Hands and for those believers who followed them in their permanent abandonment of the Guardianship and the dissolution of their own Institution, upon the demise of the last Hand, transformed their now sans-Guardian Faith into nothing more than a Bahá’í sect.

Having completely ignored the indisputable fact that Shoghi Effendi had established the Universal House of Justice in its embryonic form in January 1951, as he had reaffirmed in his message of 20 June 1952, quoted at the beginning of this paper, the illegitimate body of the so-called Custodians called for the election at Ridván 1963 of an illegitimate so-called Universal House of Justice which, minus the Guardian of the Faith, presiding as its “sacred head, as required under the terms of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, would obviously be nothing more than an incomplete fallible, and seriously flawed man-made body. Unquestionably, this headless body was certainly not, as they would pretend, the infallible institution prescribed in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Future spiritually-minded scholars of the Faith, carefully reviewing, without bias or preconceived ideas, the actions, messages and pronouncements of Shoghi Effendi and his matchless writings on the Bahá’í Administrative Order, will readily perceive that the Hands of the Cause had shamefully and incomprehensibly disregarded both these significant actions and the historic messages that he had addressed to the Bahá’í world, particularly in the last seven years of his ministry, such as those cited above, that undeniably had provided for and insured the continuation of the Guardianship. And, they will therefore certainly conclude that the Hands had diabolically corrupted the Bahá’í Administrative Order in their replacement of the divinely-conceived institutions of that Order with a grossly flawed system of their own making, and thereby had become patently guilty of nothing less than a shameless and nefarious betrayal of all that Shoghi Effendi had so faithfully labored to achieve during his thirty-six year ministry, and had finally gloriously crowned, “at long last,” as his ministry drew to a close, with the erection of the “highest institutions”and “supreme organs” of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, in complete accordance with the divine Mandate bequeathed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Joel Bray Marangella

Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith

September 2007

Emphasis has been added above throughout where deemed desirable.