KNOWLEDGE OF WHICH LANGUAGE IS ESSENTIAL FOR PRESENT-DAY AND FUTURE GUARDIANS OF THE FAITH?
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 Abdul-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 Effendis statement in God Passes By that the term Aghsan refers to the Sons of Baháulláh and therefore, as contemporaries of Abdul-Bahá, they would obviously never outlive Shoghi Effendi and be available for appointment as his successor. The provisions of the Will and Testament of Abdul-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 Abdul-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 Baháulláh 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 Baháí Revelation," PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS BY BAHÁULLÁH (339 pages), EPISTLE TO THE SON OF THE WOLF. (181 pages), important passages of Baháulláhs 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 NABILS NARRATIVE "The Dawnbreakers," (668 pages). Others have translated into English such major books as GLEANINGS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁULLÁH (346 pages), BAHÁÍ WORLD FAITH comprising selected Writings from Baháulláh and Abdul-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 BAHÁULLÁH that includes: "TheWorld Order Of Baháulláh," "The World Order of Baháulláh Further Considerations," "The Goal Of A New World Order," "The Golden Age Of The Cause of Baháulláh," America And The Most Great Peace," and "The Dispensation of Baháulláh," the latter referred to by him in May Maxwells 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 Baháí World through the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, many of which were later published in such compilations as BAHÁÍ ADMINISTRATION, MESSAGES TO AMERICA1932-1946 and MESSAGES TO THE BAHAI WORLD1950-1957. Similar compilations have been made of his letters to the NSAs of the Baháís 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 BAHÁÍ WORLD BOOKS which have been periodically published since then. And, of course, we have the Baháí News published by the NSA of the United States which carries worldwide news of Baháí activities and, during Shoghi Effendis ministry, copies of his messages to the Baháí World.
Not only do we have a vast amount of the Holy Writings of both Baháulláh and Abdul-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 Abdul-Bahá," "The Promulgation of Universal Peace," and "Baháí 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 Baháulláh?"
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 Effendis writings in the English language and his messages to the Baháí 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 Effendis 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 Baháí Administrative Order and fully appreciate the glorious and certain destiny in store for the World Order of Baháulláh.
Note: Bold type has been used where considered desirable for emphasis.