WHY DID HE CALL IT "THE CENTRAL BODY"?

A TERM USED ONLY ONCE FOR EMPHASIS, YET ITS PURPOSE WOULD BE SHAMELESSLY IGNORED

In July, 1947, Shoghi Effendi prepared a statement for submission to the "United Nations Special Palestine Committee" that was incorporated in a pamphlet under the title of "The Faith of Bahá’u’lláh" and published by the Bahá’í Publishing Committee of the United States. In this statement Shoghi Effendi pointed out that "the foundations are now being laid by the national and local councils . . . 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." He further pointed out that "The Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh" was "destined to evolve into the Bahá’í World Commonwealth."

Some three year were to elapse before Shoghi Effendi, at the beginning of 1951, considered that, in the light of important developments that had since taken place in the Holy Land, the time had come to begin the erection of the international institutions of the Faith at the World Center of the Faith, according to the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The first of these institutions that he established was the "World Council" that he had mentioned in his letter to the United Nations three years earlier and which he then designated in his proclamation to the Bahá’í world as the "International Bahá’í Council" in its initial and embryonic stage of development. Accordingly, on the 9th of January 1951 he issued what would become the one and only Proclamation of his ministry (in cablegram form) that opened with the words: "Proclaim to National Assemblies of East and West weighty epoch-making decision of formation of the first International Bahá’í Council, forerunner of the supreme administrative institution destined to emerge in the fullness of time . . . " and went on to say that significant developments including "the present adequate maturity of nine vigorously functioning national administrative institutions," (which would be its subordinate administrative bodies) had combined to induce him, "to arrive at this historic decision marking the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh" since the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá [on 28 November 1921]. He pointed out that "further functions" would be added to the initial functions (confined to the Holy Land) that he had outlined for "this first embryonic International Institution." Being an embryonic Institution and therefore a perfect and complete Institution "from the first," as are all embryonic organisms according to the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (p.313, BWF), he projected the gradual evolution of this "Nascent Institution" through four stages that would culminate in its efflorescence as the Universal House of Justice, an evolutionary development that would find its counterpart, in its second stage of development, as an International Bahá’í Court, and as an "essential prelude" to its final efflorescence, with the initial establishment of six "national Bahá’í Courts" in "the chief cities of the Islamic East," pursuant to the goals of the Ten Year Global Crusade.

Shoghi Effendi further emphasized the momentous importance of this event in unprecedented glowing terms, as he stated: "hail with a thankful and joyous heart at long last the constitution of the International Council which history will acclaim as the greatest event shedding lustre 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, ranking second only to the glorious immortal events associated with the Ministries of the Three Central Figures of the Faith . . ."

Although Shoghi Effendi, in his statement to the United Nations Committee, had stated that he would be the Head of this World Council once it was formed, he did not assume this headship himself, upon the appointment of the "International Bahá’í Council," but instead decided, for a very important reason that will be discussed below, to appoint a President of this Council—this embryonic Universal House of Justice—and, in so doing, use the Council as the instrument through which he would appoint his successor "in his own life-time" as required by the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. As this President he appointed Mason Remey who was not a young man as would have been anticipated, but, on the contrary, a believer of advanced age, who had become a believer at the turn of the century, had been greatly loved by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and repeatedly eulogized by Him in His Tablets (published in The Star of the West) and whose devoted, manifold and exemplary services for the Faith throughout the world over a period of half a century, together with his significant architectural contributions, that included the design of several Bahá’í Temples (one yet to be built in Haifa at the express direction of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the other in Tíhran at the direction of Shoghi Effendi) and the beautiful International Archives building in Haifa, already constructed, have constituted an unique and magnificent record of unparalleled service to the Faith, that remains unsurpassed by any other believer in the Bahá’í world.

Because of this unexpected and indirect way in which Shoghi Effendi had appointed his successor, Shoghi Effendi would certainly have foreseen (and correctly so as it turned out) that the believers would fail to perceive that he had designated his successor in this manner. Nor would they then perceive that it was, for this particular reason, that he would, of necessity, retain the International Bahá’í Council as an inactively functioning administrative body during the remaining few years before his passing, whose imminence he foresaw and would actually soon predict in a message to the Bahá’í world, but again, in such an indirect way, that this dire prediction would remain unperceived by the Bahá’í world, as he knew it would, how much more the momentous implications involved. A lack of appreciation of the importance and significance of the International Bahá’í Council would remain unrecognized, even though he issued a message some four months following its formation, on 25 April 1951, in which he again emphasized its importance in stating that: "The emergence of an independent sovereign State in the Holy Land, synchronizing with the rise and consolidation of the Administrative Center of the World Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, of which the establishment of the International Bahá’í Council and the construction of the superstructure of the Bbs Sepulchre constitute the initial major evidences. . . "

Some eleven months following the establishment of the International Bahá’í Council, and significantly one month prior to his appointment of the first contingent of twelve living Hands of the Cause, Shoghi Effendi addressed a letter to the Bahá’í world, under date of 23 November 1951 in which he would refer to the International Bahá’í Council as "The Central Body," an unfamiliar term not noted elsewhere in either his prior or later writings or messages, the apparent reason for which will be discussed in due course below. This letter also most importantly confirmed the ominous prediction of his early passing, although again a prediction that had been disguised in such a way that he knew it would remain unperceived by the believers at the time. This letter was subsequently incorporated in a pamphlet published in January 1952 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States under the title of "World Order Unfolds."

Shoghi Effendi had not yet completed the erection of the international institutions of the Faith at the World Center. Therefore, on 24 December 1951, he appointed the first contingent of twelve Hands of the Cause that, incidentally, included Mason Remey. This contingent would be followed by his appointment of successive contingents bringing the total to twenty-seven, with the final contingent appointed in his last message to the Bahá’í world in October 1957, a month prior to his passing. It was in this last message that he referred to the Hands of the Cause for the only time as "The Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh," an appellation that they would erroneously interpret following the passing of Shoghi Effendi to confer upon them a primacy that was not theirs (inexcusably oblivious of the fact that a steward is never captain of a ship).

The Institution of the Hands had now been brought into existence as an embryonic Institution and therefore a complete and an enduring organ of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, destined to evolve as the Hands increasingly performed the spiritual functions assigned to them by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament down through the ages to come. As future Hands could only be appointed by future Guardians of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi had assured the Bahá’í world, again in an indirect way, that both the Institution of the Guardianship and the Hands would unquestionably continue to exist as long as the World Commonwealth of Bahá’u’lláh itself existed.

Unlike the International Bahá’í Council that Shoghi Effendi would, of necessity, retain as an inactive body under the Presidency of Mason Remey during the remaining years of his ministry, although assigning important individual tasks to some of its members from time to time, he, in sharp contrast, assigned important and highly publicized tasks to the Hands of the Cause, such as serving as his representative at the Intercontinental Conferences that were held in the various continents of the world during the launching of the Ten Year Global Crusade. Such assignments served to greatly enhance their prestige and place them in the limelight to such an extent that, inevitably, their activities, during this period of some seven years, until the passing of Shoghi Effendi, would bring them into such prominence that the Institution of the Hands would come to overshadow the actual primacy that rightfully belonged to the International Bahá’í Council this—"Central Body"—and as a result, the International Council would, however unwittingly, not only be relegated, in the minds of the believers as a whole, but in the minds of the Hands of the Cause as well, to a role and rank in the Bahá’í Administrative Order subordinate to the Institution of the Hands, with tragic results for the future of the Cause, as events following the passing of Shoghi Effendi would undeniably attest.

No doubt Shoghi Effendi foresaw the eventuality, and correctly so, that the primacy of the International Bahá’í Council and its rightful rank and role would be overlooked upon his passing for the reasons discussed above, and most importantly the possibility that the Hands would, fail to recognize that, in his appointment of Mason Remey as the President of the International Bahá’í Council, he had appointed his successor who would automatically succeed to the Guardianship upon his passing. On the other hand, he had obviously considered it necessary to resort to this indirect manner of appointing his successor to spare the believers the shock, incredulity and consternation that would have otherwise ensued had he, in a more open announcement, appointed Mason Remey as his successor, a believer of such age that, in order for him to succeed Shoghi Effendi, it clearly meant that Shoghi Effendi had clearly foreseen and predicted his own early demise. Furthermore, had he openly announced the appointment of Mason Remey as his successor, the terrible implication of his early death would have obviously been such an incredible shock to the believers that it would have seriously and irreparably impeded their response and future endeavors to achieve the goals of the Ten Year Global Crusade scheduled to commence at Ridván 1953.

Shoghi Effendi had yet to appoint the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause when he wrote his letter of 23 November 1951 in which he referred to the International Bahá’í Council as "the Central Body." He would have realized that the future activities he had planned for the Hands of the Cause would, by the time of his passing, place them in the position of great prominence and prestige in the minds of the believers and who, by that time, could overlook or ignore, as discussed earlier, the primacy of the International Bahá’í Council in the Administrative Order. He would have been concerned that the important assignments that he was planning for the Hands of the Cause that he would be soon appointing would, as previously discussed, place that Institution in the limelight to such an extent that their rank within the Bahá’í Administrative System would come to be regarded by the believers as supreme, whereas during this same period, the International Bahá’í Council, would have remained in an inactive and relative inconspicuous status. Therefore, as he would be calling upon the Bahá’í world in a little over a year to launch the Ten Year Global Crusade at Ridván 1953, and he foresaw that his own ministry would be coming to an end sometime during that Crusade, it was absolutely essential that the primacy, the role and station of the International Council be fully understood by the believers and particularly the Hands of the Cause that he would soon be appointing, as its formation held the critical key to the recognition and acceptance of his successor.

As time went on, Shoghi Effendi would have had reason to believe that he had been successful in emphasizing the primacy of the International Bahá’í Council in the minds of the believers and most importantly in the minds of the Hands of the Cause that he would be appointing, despite the understandable concern that he may have felt that this primacy would come to be overshadowed by the Institution of the Hands, as discussed earlier, if he were to use the term "Central Body" in reference to the International Council, a term incidentally that he had never used before with reference to the institutions of the Faith. For this term would indisputably insure the recognition of the primacy of the International Council over the Hands of the Cause. Accordingly, in his letter of 23 November 1951 he clearly outlined the future vital and active role of the International Bahá’í Council during the course of the Ten Year Global Crusade in the following words: ". . . the Master Plan designed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will embrace all the continents of the earth, and will bring the Central Body directing these widely ramified operations into direct contact with all the National Assemblies of the Bahá’í world . . . "

He had already clearly pointed out the fact in his Proclamation of 9 January 1951 that the International Bahá’í Council was not a transitory or temporary body but a "Nascent Institution" and would further emphasize this fact in a message to the Bahá’í world on 30 June 1952, some six months after he had appointed the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause, in which he 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 . . . " (emphasis added)

Notwithstanding the facts outlined above, that undeniably prove that it was the unmistakable intention of Shoghi Effendi that the International Bahá’í Council, following his passing, and upon its emergence into active administrative life with his successor presiding as its President and "sacred head," should rightfully take over the affairs of the Faith, these facts were blindly and incredulously ignored by the Hands of the Cause, who in place of this "Central Body" that was unquestionably superior to their own, prevented this body from exercising its rightful functions, usurped its authority and the functions that had been projected by Shoghi Effendi, and shamelessly created a body of nine Hands completely outside of the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which they would name: "Chief Stewards of the Bahá’í World Faith" and which they had the unbelievable temerity to claim would exercise "all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith."

Thus was born the greatest violation of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh in the history of the Faith that endures to the present day, even though the Hands of the Cause (with one notable exception) who were culpable of instigating this violation and who, in turn, ignominiously led the vast majority of their fellow-believers throughout the world astray from the Covenant have by now died out. But their ignoble and shameless legacy has survived them in the equally illegitimate sans-Guardian and therefore headless so-called Universal House of Justice.

In the light of, the initial faithless abandonment of the Guardianship by the Hands of the Cause (with a single exception), and their obvious failure to follow the explicit instructions of Shoghi Effendi with respect to the role of International Bahá’í Council, following his passing, as well as the continuing shameful repudiation of the major provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá by the present-day, so-called Universal House of Justice, little does this illegitimate body perceive the enormity of its infamy and betrayal of Shoghi Effendi and realize that, as a result, its ultimate downfall is ordained with certainty, whereas the victory of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and its sacred and immortal "Child"—the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—is definitely assured and destined, for Shoghi Effendi, writing in the "Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh," has stated: "The bedrock on which this Administrative Order is founded is God's immutable Purpose for mankind in this day. The source from which it derives its inspiration is no one less than Bahá’u’lláh Himself."

Joel Bray Marangella

Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith

Perth, Australia,
30 July 2006