(Bold type and capital letters have been used selectively throughout for emphasis)



The Formative Period, the Iron Age, of that Dispensation was now beginning, the Age in which the institutions, local, national and international, of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh were to take shape, develop and become fully consolidated, in anticipation of the third, the last, the Golden Age destined to witness the emergence of a world-embracing Order enshrining the ultimate fruit of God's latest Revelation to mankind . . . To this World Order the Báb Himself had, whilst a prisoner in the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbáyján, explicitly referred in His Persian Bayán, the Mother Book of the Bábí Dispensation, had announced its advent, and associated it with the name of Bahá’u’lláh, Whose Mission He Himself had heralded. "Well is it with Him" is His remarkable statement in the sixteenth chapter of the third Váhid, "Who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, and rendereth thanks unto His Lord! For He will assuredly be made manifest. . . " To this same Order Bahá'u'lláh Who, in a later period, revealed the laws and principles that must govern the operation of that Order, had thus referred in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Mother Book of His Dispensation: "The World's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this Most Great Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System, the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed." Its features ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, its great Architect, delineated in His Will and Testament, whilst the foundations of its rudimentary institutions are now being laid after Him by His followers in the East and the West in this the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation." (pp. 324-325)

The Charter which called into being, outlined the features and set in motion the processes of, this Administrative Order is none other than the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, His greatest legacy to posterity, the brightest emanation of His mind and the mightiest instrument forged to insure the continuity of the three ages which constitute the component parts of His Father’s Dispensation. The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh had been instituted solely through the direct operation of His Will and purpose. The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, on the other hand, may be regarded as the offspring resulting from the mystic intercourse between Him Who had generated the forces of a God-given Faith and the One Who had been made its sole Interpreter and was recognized as its perfect Exemplar . . .This Instrument can, if we would correctly appraise it, no more be divorced from the One Who provided the motivating impulse for its creation than from Him Who directly conceived it. (p.325)

The Administrative Order which this historic Document [the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá] has established, it should be noted, is by virtue of its origin and character, unique in the annals of the world’s religious systems. . . the Administrative Order which the authorized Interpreter of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings has instituted, an Order which by virtue of the administrative principles which its Author has formulated, the institutions He has established, and the right of interpretation with which He has invested its Guardian, must and will, in a manner unparalleled in any previous religion, safeguard from schism the Faith from which its has sprung. (p.326)

. . .the essential provisions of the immortal Document [the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá] from which that Order derives its authority, . . . (p.327)

The Document [the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá] establishing that Order, the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas . . . establishes the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office and outlines its essential functions; provides the measures for the election of the International House of Justice, defines its scope and sets forth its relationship to that Institution; prescribes the obligations, and emphasizes the responsibilities of the Hands of the Cause of God; and extolls the virtues of the indestructible Covenant established by Bahá’u’lláh. (p.328)

. . . that world-embracing Administrative system designed to evolve into a World Order which posterity must acclaim as the promise and crowning glory of all the Dispensations of the past. (p.329)

. . . that Divine Charter, [the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-
Bahá] delineating the features of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh . . . (p.330)



It would, however, be helpful and instructive to bear in mind certain basic principles with reference to the WILL AND TESTAMENT of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, which together with the KITÁB-I-AQDAS, constitutes the chief depository wherein are enshrined those priceless elements of that Divine Civilization, the establishment of which is the primary mission of the Bahá’í Faith. A study of the provisions of these sacred Documents will reveal the close relationship that exists between them, as well as the identity of purpose and method which they inculcate. Far from regarding their specific provisions as incompatible and contradictory in spirit, every fair-minded inquirer will readily admit that they are not only complimentary but that they mutually confirm one another, and ARE INSEPARABLE PARTS OF ONE COMPLETE UNIT. . In fact, he who reads the Aqdas with care and diligence will not find it hard to discover that the Most Holy Book anticipates in a number of passages the institutions which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ordains in His Will. (pp. 3-4)

The Institution of Guardianship

It must be also clearly understood by every believer that the institution of Guardianship does not under any circumstances abrogate, or even in the slightest degree detract from the powers granted to the Universal House of Justice by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will. It does not constitute in any manner a contradiction to the Will and Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, nor does it nullify any of His revealed instructions. It enhances the prestige of that exalted assembly, stabilizes its supreme position, safeguards its unity, assures the continuity of its labors, without presuming in the slightest to infringe upon the inviolability of its clearly-defined sphere of jurisdiction. We stand indeed too close to so monumental a document [the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá] to claim for ourselves a complete understanding of all its implications, or to presume to have grasped the manifold mysteries it undoubtedly contains. Only future generations can comprehend the value and the significance attached to this Divine Masterpiece, which the Master-builder of the world has designed for the unification and the triumph of the world-wide Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Only those who come after us will be in a position to realize the value of the surprisingly strong emphasis that has been placed on the institution of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship.(p.8)

I strongly feel the urge to elucidate certain facts, which would at once reveal to every fair-minded observer the unique character of that Divine Civilization the foundations of which the unerring hand of Bahá’u’lláh has laid, and the essential elements of which the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has disclosed. I consider it my duty to warn every beginner in the Faith that the promised glories of the Sovereignty which the Bahá’í teachings foreshadow, can only be revealed in the fullness of time, that the implications of the Aqdas and the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as the twin repositories of the constituent elements of that Sovereignty, are too far-reaching for this generation to grasp and fully appreciate. (p.16)

That Bahá’u’lláh in His Book of Aqdas, and later ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Willa document which confirms, supplements and correlates the provisions of the Aqdas – have set forth in their entirety those essential elements for the constitution of the world Commonwealth, no one who has read them will deny. According to these divinely-ordained administrative principles, the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh – the Ark of human salvation – must needs be modelled. . . . He, [Bahá’u’lláh] as well as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá after Him, has unlike the Dispensations of the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws, established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a Divine Economy. These are destined to be a pattern for future society, a supreme instrument for the establishment of the Most Great Peace . . . THEY have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world. (pp.19-20)

Both in the administrative provisions of the Bahá’í Dispensation, and in the matter of succession, as embodied in the twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh can summon to their aid such irrefutable evidences of Divine Guidance that none can resist, that none can belittle or ignore. Therein lies the distinguishing feature of the Bahá’í Revelation. . . . This is the reason why Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have both revealed and insisted upon certain details in connection with the Divine Economy which they have bequeathed to us, their followers. This is why such an emphasis has been placed in THEIR Will and Testament upon the powers and prerogatives of the ministers of their Faith [House of Justice and Guardianship]. (pp.21-22)

For nothing short of the explicit directions of THEIR Book, and the surprisingly emphatic language with which THEY have clothed the provisions of THEIR Will could possibly safeguard the Faith for which they have so gloriously labored all their lives. (p.22)

Out of the pangs of anguish which His bereaved followers have suffered, amid the heat and dust which the attacks launched by a sleepless enemy had precipitated, the Administration of Bahá’u’lláh’s invincible Faith was born. The potent energies released through the ascension of the Center of His Covenant crystallized into this supreme, this infallible Organ [His Will and Testament] for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose. The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá unveiled its character, reaffirmed its basis, supplemented its principles, asserted its indispensability, and enumerated its chief institutions. (p.89)



It was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Who, through the provisions of His weighty Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in – the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith . . . (p.98)

Anticipating the System which the irresistible power of His [Bahá’u’lláh’s] Law was destined to unfold in a later age, He writes: The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System – the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed." (p.109)

"The foundation of the belief of the people of Bahá is this," thus proclaims one of the weightiest passages of that last document [the Will and Testament] left to voice in perpetuity the directions and wishes of a departed Master. . ." (p.133)

He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá’u’lláh’s peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of his teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá’í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá’í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, [Note the spiritual relationship] the Being "round Whom all names revolve," the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace. the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation – styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He is above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God" – an expression by which Bahá’u’lláh, Himself, has chosen to designate Him and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized. (p.134)

In the Súriy-i-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch) the following verses have been recorded: . . . "They who deprive themselves of the shadow of the Branch, are lost in the wilderness of error, are consumed by the heat of worldly desires, and are of those who will assuredly perish." (p. 135)





His (‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s) Will and Testament should thus be regarded as the perpetual, the indissoluble link which the mind of Him Who is the Mystery of God has conceived in order to insure the continuity of the three ages that constitute the component parts of the Bahá’í Dispensation . . . 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 promise of this Most Great Dispensation. The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating impulse of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. Being the Child of the Covenant – the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God – the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it. . . . The Administrative Order. . . may be considered as the framework of the Will itself, the inviolable stronghold wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and developed. This Administrative Order, as it expands and consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities and reveal the full implications of this momentous Document . . . It will, as its component parts, its organic institutions, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind. (pp. 143-144)

. . . this Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá’u’lláh has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designated to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism. (p.145)

To what else if not to the power and majesty which this Administrative Order – the rudiments of the future all-enfolding Bahá’í Commonwealth – is destined to manifest can these utterances of Bahá’u’lláh allude: "The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System – the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed." (p.146)

. . . in the verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas the implications of which clearly anticipate the institution of the Guardianship . . . (p.147)

An attempt, I feel should at the present juncture be made to explain the character and functions of the twin pillars that support this mighty Administrative Structure – the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice . . . To define with accuracy and minuteness the features and to analyze exhaustively the nature and relationships which, on the one hand, bind together these two fundamental organs of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and connect, on the other, each of them to the Author of the Faith and the Center of His Covenant is a task which future generations will no doubt adequately fulfill. (p.147)

It should be stated, at the very outset, in clear and unambiguous language, that these twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh should be regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose. Their common, their fundamental object is to insure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings. Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions administer its affairs, co-ordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions . . . Far from being incompatible or mutually destructive, they supplement each other’s authority and functions and are permanently and fundamentally united in their aims. (p. 148)

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. . . Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperilled, 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. (p. 148)

Severed from the no less essential institution of the Universal House of Justice this same System of the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would be paralyzed in its action and would be powerless to fill in those gaps which the Author of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas has deliberately left in the body of His legislative and administrative ordinances. (p.148)

"The mighty stronghold," He further explains, "shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the Guardian of the Cause of God." It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsán., the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God, to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the Guardian of the Cause of God." (p.149)

"It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice," Bahá’u’lláh, on the other hand, declares in the Eighth Leaf of the Exalted Paradise, "to take counsel together regarding those things which have not been outwardly revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable to them. God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth and He is verily the Provider, the Omniscient." "Unto the Most Holy Book" (the Kitáb-i-Aqdas), "Abdu’l-Bahá states in His Will, "every one must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the truth and the purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice, and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant." (p.149)

From these statements it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the teachings. The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive right and prerogative is to pronounce upon and deliver the final judgement on such laws and ordinances as Bahá’u’lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested. (pp. 149-150)

Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members, but is BOUND TO INSIST UPON A RECONSIDERATION BY THEM OF ANY ENACTMENT HE CONSCIENTIOUSLY BELIEVES TO CONFLICT WITH THE MEANING AND TO DEPART FROM THE SPIRIT OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S REVEALED UTTERANCES. (p.150)

[Note: It is clear from the above quoted statement from Shoghi Effendi that, without the living Guardian presiding as its sacred and permanent head to insure that the enactments of the Universal House of Justice are always in complete conformity with the "meaning" and "spirit" of the "revealed utterances" of Bahá’u’lláh, a headless sans-Guardian UHJ would be subject to error in its enactments and consequently would unquestionably not be the infallible institution delineated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His sacred and immortal Will and Testament].

. . . he [the Guardian] who symbolizes the hereditary principle in this Dispensation has been made the interpreter of the words of its Author, and ceases consequently, by virtue of the actual authority vested in him, to be the figurehead invariably associated with the prevailing systems of constitutional monarchies. (p.153)

Let no one, while this System is still in its infancy, misconceive its character, belittle its significance or misrepresent its purpose. The bedrock on which this Administrative Order is founded is God’s immutable Purpose for mankind in this Day [ the Day of God]. The Source from which it derives its inspiration is no less than Bahá’u’lláh Himself . . . The axis round which its institutions revolve are the authentic provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá . . . The pillars that sustain its authority and buttress its structure are the twin institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice. (pp.156-157)