Some of the heterodox believers have expressed the view that it is essential that any successor to Shoghi Effendi, as Guardian of the Faith, possess a knowledge of Persian (Farsi) or Arabic to be able to properly perform the function of Guardianship under the provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, not to mention their equally fallacious view that only an Aghsan is eligible to inherit the Guardianship which is patently false based on Shoghi Effendi’s statement in God Passes By that the term Aghsan refers to the Sons of Bahá’u’lláh and therefore, as contemporaries of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, they would obviously never outlive Shoghi Effendi and be available for appointment as his successor. The provisions of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which spcifically outline the qualifications of the one who is appointed Guardian, do not include a knowledge of Farsi or Arabic or do not state that the Guardian must be capable of translating the sacred Writings into English or any other language.

Notwithstanding, it is significant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent Shoghi Effendi to Oxford University in England as a young man to perfect his knowledge of English and it was while he was still there that the Master ascended and he was called upon to assume the Guardianship. Shoghi Effendi, having by that time, attained a superlative command of the English language, translated into English such important works of Bahá’u’lláh as, the KITAB-I-IQAN (257 pages), described by him as "this book of unsurpassed pre-eminence among the writings of the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation," PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS BY BAHÁ’U’LLÁH (339 pages), EPISTLE TO THE SON OF THE WOLF. (181 pages), important passages of Bahá’u’lláh’s Most Holy Book, the KITAB-I-AQDAS, and partially worked on its codification (although, "Questions and Answers" and "Notes" supplementary thereto were subsequently translated into English by others. Shoghi Effendi also translated into English NABIL’S NARRATIVE —"The Dawnbreakers," (668 pages). Others have translated into English such major books as GLEANINGS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH (346 pages), BAHÁ’Í WORLD FAITH comprising selected Writings from Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (449 pages and THE SECRET OF DIVINE CIVILIZATION (116 pages) and writings such as "HIDDEN WORDS," and "THE SEVEN VALLEYS AND THE FOUR VALLEYS."

Additionally, Shoghi Effendi has written in English GOD PASSES BY, (412 pages) and shorter works such as the "The Advent of Divine Justice" and "The Promised Day is Come," as well as his World Order letters which have been published in a compilation of 206 pages titled: THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH that includes: "TheWorld Order Of Bahá’u’lláh," "The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh Further Considerations," "The Goal Of A New World Order," "The Golden Age Of The Cause of Bahá’u’lláh," America And The Most Great Peace," and "The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh," the latter referred to by him in May Maxwell’s Haifa Notes, as his "spiritual testament in detail" not to mention his numerous letters and the impressive number of historic and epoch-making cablegrams that were written in English and dispatched over the years to the Bahá’í World through the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, many of which were later published in such compilations as BAHÁ’Í ADMINISTRATION, MESSAGES TO AMERICA—1932-1946 and MESSAGES TO THE BAHA’I WORLD–1950-1957. Similar compilations have been made of his letters to the NSA’s of the Bahá’ís of England, Australia and New Zealand and undoubtedly India.

In addition to the above literature in English there are twenty-four historic early issues of the magnificent STAR OF THE WEST magazines, published in the United States during the early years of the Faith and starting in 1936 the BAHÁ’Í WORLD BOOKS which have been periodically published since then. And, of course, we have the Bahá’í News published by the NSA of the United States which carries worldwide news of Bahá’í activities and, during Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, copies of his messages to the Bahá’í World.

Not only do we have a vast amount of the Holy Writings of both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá translated into English during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi but prior to his ministry, major works such as "Some Answered Questions," the three volumes of the "Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá," "The Promulgation of Universal Peace," and "Bahá’í Scriptures" were published in the English language.

In the light of the foregoing, is it possible for anyone to believe that Shoghi Effendi would have left untranslated into English, either by himself or others, any of the remaining sacred Writings that were essential or critical to a knowledge and understanding of the Teachings by English speaking believers and especially the "champion builders of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh?"

As so much of the literature cited above has not been translated into other languages, it is obvious that a believer and particularly a future Guardian that possessed no knowledge of English would labor under a serious handicap and be seriously deprived whereas a lack of knowledge of Farsi or Arabic would not impose a similar handicap. It would seem vitally important therefore that future Guardians, as well as the believers at large, possess a good command of the English language particularly so that they can read Shoghi Effendi’s writings in the English language and his messages to the Bahá’í World, so many of which were particularly historic, epoch-making and highly significant during the closing years of his ministry when he "erected" at the World Center as his crowning achievement "at long last the machinery of its highest institutions." For, as any one who has been involved in translations of these messages in the past will, I am certain, readily admit, it is very difficult to adequately translate them into another language. Moreover, the ability to read and study Shoghi Effendi’s writings, as originally written in English, is a distinct advantage if one is to gain an adequate and complete understanding of the divine genesis, nature and the import of the Bahá’í Administrative Order and fully appreciate the glorious and certain destiny in store for the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.


Joel Bray Marangella
Third Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith

Novemeber, 2002


Note: Bold type has been used where considered desirable for emphasis.