A Perfect and Complete Organism at Conception

" . . . the embryo possesses from the first all perfections, such as the spirit, the mind, the sight, the smell, the taste—in one word, all the powers—but they are not visible, and become so only by degree." —‘Abdu’l-Bahá

( Bahá’í World Faith, p. 313 )

During the last seven years of the ministry of Shoghi Effendi (1950-1957) as he established "at long last" the international institutions of the Bahá’í Administrative Order at the World Center of the Faith on Mount Carmel, he frequently described these institutions, as well as the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, as being in their embryonic state of development. Following the passing of Shoghi Effendi, both the Hands of the Cause and all of the believers universally lost sight of the above description of the embryo, as described above by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with tragic results for the future of the Faith. For they undeniably failed to recognize that the "first embryonic International Institution"—the International Bahá’í Council—whose establishment Shoghi Effendi had proclaimed in his message to the National Assemblies of the Bahá’í world on 9 January 1951 was, in its embryonic form, "from the first" a complete and perfect Institution, as delineated in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to which he had initially assigned limited functions confined to the Holy Land, but which, as he had outlined, would assume "added further functions" as the Council evolved through successive stages commensurate with the future development of the Faith, itself. These added functions were envisaged by Shoghi Effendi, for example, in his subsequent message of 23 November 1951 wherein he stated that this "Central Body" would assume direction of the "widely ramified operations" of the National Assemblies of the Bahá’í world during the course of the Ten Year Global Crusade scheduled to commence at Ridván 1953.

Events subsequent to the passing of Shoghi Effendi clearly attest to the fact that the Hands of the Cause and the other believers failed completely to recognize the tremendous significance attached to Shoghi Effendi’s decision to create this "first embryonic International Institution" and to perceive that he had actually established "the supreme administrative institution" of the Faith—the Universal House of Justice—albeit in its embryonic form, and that it had been because of the unprecedented importance of this act that he had issued the one and only Proclamation of his ministry in which he proclaimed this "weighty epoch-making decision" to be the "most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He further emphasized the importance of this event in stating that he hailed "with thankful and joyous heart at long last the constitution of the International Council" which history would "acclaim as the greatest event shedding luster upon the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation" and even more than that, an event "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, ranking second only to the glorious immortal events associated ith the Ministries of Three Central Figures of the Faith . . . "

If there were any remaining doubt that Shoghi Effendi had, in fact, erected the embryonic Universal House of Justice, they had only to read his message of 30 June 1952 dispatched some six months following his appointent of the first contingent of the living Hands of the Cause on 25 December 1951, thereby establishing the Institution of the Hands of the Cause. For this message stated: "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."

Incredulous as it may now seem, the decision made by the Hands of the Cause in their first conclave held in ‘Akka, subsequent to the passing of Shoghi Effendi, would clearly reveal that in spite of the unprecedented importance and significance Shoghi Effendi had placed upon the appointment of the International Bahá’í Council as the first of the "supreme organs" of Bahá’u’lláh’s "unfolding Order," they inexcusably overlooked the importance and significance of these messages and their bearing on the question of the continuance of the Guardianship, for they never realized that Shoghi Effendi had, in fact, created the embryonic Universal House of Justice and understood that it was unquestionably a complete and perfect Institution "from the first." Moreover, they failed to realize, as did all of the believers at the time, the momentous implication to be found in Shoghi Effendi’s appointment of Mason Remey as the permanent and irremovable Head of this Institution (an appointment confirmed in his message of 2 March 1951), who, by virtue of his appointment, as its President, would become, according to the sacred and immutable provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament, at such time as he presided over this body as an actively functioning Institution, none other than the Guardian of the Faith. The other eight members appointed by Shoghi Effendi to this body, although provisionally appointed at its inception, would be, as Shoghi Effendi outlined in his Proclamation of 9 January 1951, elected to this body in due course.

As a result of the tragic failure of the Hands to perceive the manner in which Shoghi Effendi had assured the continuance of the Guardianship through the appointment of his successor "in his own life-time" as enjoined by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and their consequent hasty abandonment of the Guardianship coupled with the ultimate abolishment of their own institution (as only future Guardians could appoint future Hands), they further compounded this failure as they ignored completely the role that Shoghi Effendi had projected for the International Bahá’í Council. For, they appointed an illegitimate body of nine Hands, from their own number which they named, "Custodians of the Bahá’í World Faith," a body outside the sacred and immutable provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which they nevertheless shamelessly stated in their public declaration "shall be deemed to succeed the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith." and then asked the believers to recognize this illegitimate body as "the supreme body in the Cause". Yet, according to their announced ill-conceived plans, this so-called "supreme body" would cease to exist some five years later, together with the International Bahá’í Council upon the premature election at Ridván 1963 of their sans-Guardian and hence headless and illegitimate so-called Universal House of Justice.

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As Shoghi Effendi had appointed Mason Remey the Head of the International Bahá’í Council—this embryonic Universal House of Justice—he could not assume the Presidency himself, nor could he activate it as an administratively functioning body as this body could not have two Presidents. It is clearly, for this reason, that he retained this Council as an inactively functioning body for the remainder of his ministry and even appointed a "chosen liaison" between himself and the Council to preclude the slightest indication of assuming its Presidency himself (cablegram, 8 March 1952). Mason Remey confirms this fact, as he has pointed out in his writings that, although Shoghi Effendi had assigned individual tasks to members of the Council from time to time, he had never instructed him to convene the Council under his presidency. Obviously therefore it was Shoghi Effendi’s intention that, only upon his passing, would Mason Remey assume the presidency of an actively functioning International Council, as the supreme Bahá’í administrative institution of the Faith, and, in so doing, automatically accede to the Guardianship of the Faith. In this unexpected and indirect manner of appointing a successor, who was not a young man but one much older than himself, Shoghi Effendi had not only effected the appointment of his successor "in his own life-time," as required under the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but had cleverly veiled from the believers the imminence of his own passing which he knew was destined to take place but a few years later. He certainly would have expected the Hands of the Cause to retain an unwavering faith in the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh and be assured of his steadfast fidelity to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose sacredness and immutability he had in his writings equated with the laws of Bahá’u’lláh’s Most Holy Book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and, in this knowledge entertain no doubt that he had appointed a successor in faithful compliance with its provisions. Accordingly, he would have expected them to undertake a thorough and comprehensive search to discover his successor even though in their initial and fruitless search for a will and testament they had found no such document which, in their inexcusable ignorance of the clear provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will, they had erroneously and incomprehensively anticipated. Certainly, Shoghi Effendi had never foreseen that the faith of these Hands would prove to be so manifestly shallow that they would, on the very first day of their deliberations, and, in fact, during the very first few minutes of these deliberations in the conclave that they had convened in ‘Akká following his passing, reach a hasty and unwarranted decision that the Guardianship of the Cause of God—the "Center of the Cause"—as delineated in the divinely-conceived Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a sacred and immortal Document that he had emphasized in his writings actually represented the Will of Bahá’u’lláh, as well, had come to an early and premature end a mere thirty-six years after the inception of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and His "embryonic World Commonwealth."

Joel Bray Marangella

Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith

November 2004