THE LAMENTATION OF SHOGHI EFFENDI
Consider the lamentation of Shoghi Effendi in the Abhá Kingdom and his deep sorrow when he observes that his untiring labors of thirty-six years to faithfully erect the administrative institutions of the Faith strictly in complete accordance with the sacred, divinely-conceived and immortal provisions of the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá and which, in the closing years of his ministry, had culminated so gloriously in the erection, "at long last" of the highest institutions of the Administrative Order at the World Center of the Faith had been, upon his passing, almost completely brought to naught by a tragic, hasty and unwarranted decision of the Hands of the Cause. And consider his profound distress, as he further observes from the other world, that practically all of his copious writings, letters and historic cablegrams pertaining to the divine genesis, and character of the Baháí Administrative Order and especially those communications pertaining to the historic events associated with the consummation of his labors, had obviously been, completely overlooked, misunderstood, ignored, or even forgotten, however unwittingly, following his passing, by all of the believers and, even more surprisingly, initially and critically, by all of the Hands of the Cause, as well. And consider his great anguish to perceive that in their abject failure to review and restudy these writings and communications they had also inevitably failed to perceive the tremendous implications and significance of some of his most historic and "epoch-making" decisions that were to have such an important bearing on the future of the Faith and its institutions with such tragic results that they dismantled the highest institutions, whose final erection had been the crowning achievement of his long labors, and faithlessly, shamelessly and incredulously replaced them with a substituted man-made, deformed, and defective organization.
Had he been wrong to expect, that, in the light of all that he had written during his ministry emphasizing the glory, the uniqueness and the indestructibility of the Covenant of Baháulláh, the Hands of the Cause, the majority of whom he had but recently appointed during the closing years of his ministry, would remain faithful to that glorious Covenant and the "Child of the Covenant"the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá? Could he have ever imagined or foreseen that these Hands of the Cause, with two notable exceptions, were destined, following his passing, to shamefully betray him through their hasty abandonment of the Guardianship of the Cause of God, and thereby demonstrate an incomprehensible loss of faith in a Covenant that had been extolled by the Center of that CovenantAbdul-Baháas "so firm and mighty. . . that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like?"
Had it not been inconceivable to him that these Hands of the Cause would show such a woeful lack of knowledge and understanding of the terms of the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá, as attested by the fact that, in their first conclave that had been convened in Akká) but three weeks following his passing, (incidentally, a conclave for which there is no need under the terms of Abdul-Bahás Will) that they would undertake a search of his files in anticipation of finding a will and testament in which he had appointed his successor, whereas, in the light of the provisions of Abdul-Bahás Will and Testament, they should have known that the execution of such a will is not the method by which the Guardian appoints his successor as, under its explicit terms, he must appoint his successor "in his own life-time" and, therefore, their search was bound to fail? Had not the Hands, upon not finding a will and without even giving any consideration to alternatives through a re-examination of his writings and acts, then compounded their error by incredulously reaching, with unseemly haste, the unwarranted and fateful conclusion that the Guardianship of the Faith had forever ended, with his passing?
Had there not been serious and glaring evidence, in their contention that he had been unable to appoint a successor as there were no remaining faithful Aghsán, that they had forgotten that he had defined the Aghsán in "God Passes By" (on page 239) as the "sons of Baháulláh" and these sons had long since died and could never have been under consideration as a successor. And had they not also obviously overlooked the fact that because of the disloyalty of these sons even before the end of His ministry, Abdul-Bahá significantly enjoins only the Afnán "to obey" and "turn unto" the Guardian and excludes any mention of the Aghsán in the third part of His Will and Testament, penned earlier than the two other parts, in which both the Aghsán and Afnán have been enjoined "to show their obedience and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God." Therefore, in the patently false interpretation they had placed on the term Aghsán had they not, for this reason, erroneously contended that the option given to the Guardian in Abdul-Bahás Will, in the absence of a spiritually qualified son, to appoint "another branch" to succeed him, had restricted his choice of a successor only to an Aghsán?
In reaching and announcing the conclusion that the Guardianship had come to an end, had they not, in effect, declared that the most important sacred, immortal and immutable provisions of the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá, had become null and void? Furthermore, had they not, in reaching this conclusion ignored, and actually repudiated those writings in which he had stressed that this Will should be considered as divinely-conceived by "both the Originator and Interpreter of the Law of God" and should be viewed as "the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and promise of this most great Dispensation?"
Moreover, how had they so readily forgotten that he had emphasized that the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá should be equated in its sacredness and immutability with Baháulláhs Most Holy Bookthe Kitáb-i-Aqdasand that these two Documents were "inseparable parts of one complete unit" and then have failed to perceive, therefore, that Abdul-Bahás Will constituted a part of the explicit Holy Text whose laws and provisions, including those applicable to the continuity of the Guardianship, were destined to remain inviolate, unchanged and applicable as long as the Dispensation of Baháulláh, itself, endured?
Furthermore, had he not also stressed in his writings that the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá, was to be considered as the fruit of that "mystic intercourse" between the Mind of Baháulláh and Abdul-Bahá and therefore was nothing less than the Will of Baháulláh, as well, and accordingly he had referred to this divinely-conceived Document as "their Will?" Could they not, therefore, perceive, in view of all that he had written, (as reviewed above) the irrationality of contending that such a Will"the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God" had now become a dead letter? Had they been unable to foresee not only the irrationality of such a decision but their inability to also satisfactorily and rationally explain to future unbiased scholars investigating the Faith, that the major provisions of this divinely-conceived and jointly-authored Will, and Testamentthis explicit Holy Texthad now become null and void, especially as it applied to, such vital and important matters as the continuity of both the Guardianship and the institution of the Hands of the Cause who could only be appointed in the future if there were future Guardians to appoint them? And had not this sacred Document delineated the indispensable and irreplaceable role that can only be exercised by a living Guardian of the Faith presiding as the "sacred head" of the Universal House of Justice?
Could such a contention by them that these provisions of the Holy Text were now a dead letter be construed in any other light than a claim by them that the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá, although divinely-conceived, had been a deficient Document, as it had not provided for the possible future termination of the Guardianship, that they contended had already taken place a mere thirty-six years after the inception of the Administrative Order, and according to this contention, a Will that had been defective, incomplete and imperfect at its very inception?
Moreover, could the believers point to a single word uttered or written by him during his ministry in which he had ever alluded to, much less envisaged, the possible termination of the Guardianship? On the contrary, had he not invariably and repeatedly emphasized the essentiality and indispensability of the institution of the Guardianship to the World Order of Baháulláh in his writings about the Baháí Administrative Order such as those found in: The Dispensation of Baháulláh ?
Had it not been surprising and incomprehensible that, in their hasty abandonment of the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause should have overlooked and subsequently even ignored as their actions, following his passing, clearly attested, the significance of the "epoch-making decision" he had made in January 1951 and announced in the only Proclamation he had issued during his ministry, an "historic decision marking the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Baháulláh in the course of the last thirty years" (i.e., since the inception of that Order upon the Ascension of Abdul-Bahá and his accession to the Guardianship), a decision that he stated in this Proclamation had been held in abeyance pending, among other pertinent events that he outlined, "the present adequate maturity of nine vigorously functioning national administrative institutions throughout the Baháí World?" For, had he not hailed in this Proclamation of January 9, 1951 the establishment of the embryonic Universal House of Justice, "this first embryonic International Institution" in the following words: "Hail with thankful joyous heart at long last the constitution of International Council which history will acclaim as the greatest event shedding lustre upon the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Baháí Dispensation potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise undertaken since the inception of the Administrative Order on the morrow of Abdul-Bahás Ascension, ranking second only to the glorious immortal events associated with the Ministries of the Three Central Figures of the Faith . . .?"
How incomprehensible it had been that the Hands of the Cause, in spite of this historic message, extracts of which have been quoted above, had failed to perceive that he had unquestionably proclaimed the formation of the Universal House of Justice, albeit in its embryonic form. Could this failure, if one looks for a possible excuse, have been attributed to the fact that he had bestowed upon this body the temporary and provisional appellation of "International Baháí Council" and had appointed both the embryonic Head and eight members of this embryonic body, instead of initially calling for its election which he had stated would be accomplished in its third stage of development. They certainly would have recognized it as the Universal House of Justice had he not initially established it as an embryonic and inactively functioning body and, when first appointing it, had established it as a fully functioning body under his Presidency. But, significantly, had he not carefully retained it in this first embryonic stage of its development, as an inactively functioning body and had not permitted its appointed President to convene this body during the remaining years of his ministry? Had these facts, coupled with the passage of time, served to obscure the tremendous importance and implications that had been attached to his appointment of both the Head and members of this International Council some seven years earlier? Whatever the reason, had not the Hands inexcusably failed to perceive that he had, in appointing the International Baháí Council, and in issuing a Proclamation hailing its formation, actually established this supreme legislative organthis embryonic Universal House of Justice? And had not their blindness persisted even when he had clearly later reaffirmed the establishment of this institution in unmistakable terms in his cablegram of June 30, 1952, wherein he had 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. . .?" Should it not then have been crystal clear that these "highest institutions" and "supreme organs of its unfolding Order" that he had erected at the World Center in their embryonic form were none other than the institutions of the Universal House of Justice and the Hands of the Cause? And what excuse was plausible, following their perusal of the clear statement in this message, to explain how they had remained completely unmindful of the significance of the establishment of this Institution and the tremendous implication to be found in his appointment of the embryonic President of this embryonic Universal House of Justice? They certainly would have not remained so oblivious of the implications, had they called to mind the highly pertinent words of Abdul-Bahá concerning the state of the embryo at its very conception. For He stated: "the embryo possesses from the first all perfections . . . in one word, all the powersbut they are not visible, and become so only by degrees." In the light of these words, could there have been any doubt that the embryonic Universal House of Justice, although initially given the title "International Baháí Council," had been indisputably a complete organism from its very inception (i.e., by his appointment) and accordingly possessed both body and irremovable Head? With the dawning of this realization, would they not then have perceived that, as only the Guardian of the Faith presides as the "sacred head" of the Universal House of Justice, under the terms of the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá, the one whom the Guardian had appointed as its embryonic and irremovable Head could be none other than his rightful successor-to-be? Faced then with this highly significant and inescapable fact, would they have not finally perceived that, in lieu of a conventional will and testament which the Guardian is barred from employing, he had found this ingenious way to carry out the appointment of his successor, "in his own-life-time" as enjoined under the terms of Abdul-Bahás Will, and thereby had assured the continuity of the Guardianship? And would they then have perhaps realized that, as he had used the formation of the International Council as the instrument for the appointment of the Guardian-to-be, it had been necessary for him to carefully retain this body in an inactive status during the remaining years of his ministry? And would they not have further understood why he had even appointed a "liaison" between himself and the Council to further preclude any semblance of assuming its presidency, himself, and to assure that this body with its appointed Head and Guardian-to-be would only emerge from its embryonic and inactive state upon his passing and its President then preside as its "sacred head" over this now active body? And, then, as the second Guardian of the Faith, would he not continue to preside, as long as he lived, during the several successive stages of its development, as outlined by him in his Proclamation, until the final stage of "efflorescence into the Universal House of Justice?"
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With tragic results for the future of the Faith, the failure of the now fallen Hands, with a single exception, had been complete. They had not perceived any of the foregoing, including, most importantly and critically, the manner in which he had effected the appointment of his successor, because they had ignored the fact that the International Council was, in fact, the embryonic Universal House of Justice, and they had exhibited further blindness in not permitting the International Council, upon his passing, to emerge into life and actively function as the supreme administrative institution of the Faith, exercising administrative jurisdiction over the subordinate Baháí National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world. Instead, without lacking the authority to do so, under the terms of the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá, they had taken it upon themselves to create an illegitimate body of their own-making, composed of nine Hands chosen from their own number which they titled: "Custodians of the Baháí World Faith," and which then shamelessly assumed a collective Guardianship of the Faith, for they assigned to it: "all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Baháí Faith" and announced that this body would continue to exercise these supreme functions until the election of a Universal House of Justice at Ridván 1963. This was further clear evidence that they had overlooked the fact that this institution had already been created by Shoghi in 1951, as previously outlined, and that they were proposing to prematurely establish, in its place, a body exercising the full powers of a mature Universal House of Justice, whereas, he had stated in his message of 25 April 1951 to the Baháí World, that the second stage in the development of this institution the International Baháí Courtwas an "essential prelude" to its further development and had set the goal for this achievement at Ridván 1963 and, even then, had made it contingent, in his message of October 8, 1952, upon the establishment of "six national Baháí Courts in cities of the Islamic East, Tihrán, Cairo, Baghdád, New Delhi, Karachi, Kabul" by that time.
Alas, the Hands of the Cause blatantly failed to perceive that Shoghi Effendi had preserved intact all of the institutions of the Faith, including its "supreme Organs" as delineated in the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá and consequently there had been no need to replace this divinely-conceived System with an illegitimate, humanly-devised, mutilated, deformed, and ill-conceived substitute organization, sans-Guardian, sans-Hands of the Cause, and a headless so-called Universal House of Justice which they would prematurely bring about through an election held at Ridván 1963 and which they would empower to exercise functions that he had envisaged would only be performed when this Institution and its subordinate national Houses of Justice (now temporarily designated as National Spiritual Assemblies) had simultaneously reached their final stage of efflorescence in the distant future. Moreover, it was clearly obvious that those who had created this premature, illegitimate, sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice had blindly deluded themselves into believing that this headless body could successfully perform its functions and render infallible decisions, although lacking the essential protection afforded it when the Guardian of the Faith presides as its "sacred head" under the terms of the Will and Testament of Abdul-Bahá and provides the necessary infallible interpretation of Holy Writ, as and when required during its deliberations.
Shoghi Effendis heart had certainly been gladdened when he observed that one National Spiritual Assembly in the worldthe National Spiritual Assembly of Francehad distinguished itself by refusing to be swayed by the edict issued by the illegitimate body of Custodian Hands in Haifa to reject, out of hand, the second Guardian of the Faith and this Assembly, together with a number of believers in several countries, had recognized his appointed successor upon the receipt of his Proclamation at Ridván 1960. And how ironic and reprehensible it had been, and still is, that those believers who had exhibited an exemplary fidelity to the Covenant of Baháulláh and had remained steadfast and unwavering in their belief that every clause of Abdul-Bahás divinely-conceived Will and Testamentthe "Child of the Covenant"was sacrosanct, immutable and immortal, were accused by the former Hands of the Cause, and later by their illegitimate Universal House of Justice, as well, of infidelity to that Covenant, whereas they, themselves, who had so obviously lost faith in that Covenant and become guilty of repudiating the most important provision of that Willa part of the explicit Holy Texthad, based on the perverted and twisted meaning that they had then given to fidelity to the Covenant, incredulously labelled those faithful believers who had recognized the second Guardian of the Cause, as Covenant-breakers.
We know from the writings of Shoghi Effendi that the Covenant of Baháulláh is indestructible and resistless. Therefore those who have remained faithful to that Covenant have complete and abiding assurance that this Covenant will ultimately triumph over the great violation with which it has been engulfed since the passing of Shoghi Effendi and that all of the divinely-appointed institutions delineated by Abdul-Bahá in His divinely-conceived Will and Testament will ultimately be restored in all of their completeness, perfection and glory.
Joel Bray Marangella
Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith
12 November 2001