Obedience to the Guardian

"They that, for the sake of God, arise to serve His Cause, are the recipients of divine inspiration from the unseen Kingdom. It is incumbent upon all to be obedient unto them.” (Ishraqat, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pp128-129)

“The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the guardian of the Cause of God.” (Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l Baha, page 11)

Introduction: Jacques Soghomonian, our current Guardian of the Cause of God, has requested that the Baha’is consider again the importance of obedience to the Guardian. This is as important today, as it was during the ministry of Shoghi Effendi.

On the behalf of Jacques Soghomonian, it is advised that the Baha’is read and ponder especially the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l Baha on obedience to the Guardian, beginning on page 11. Please consider the passages written by Shoghi Effendi in the Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, on the Administrative Order, found in the World Order of Baha’u’llah. The following compilation of passages from Baha’I Writings on the Guardian may further aid our understanding.

THE GUARDIAN

THE EXPOUNDER/INTERPRETER OF THE WORD OF GOD

This partial compilation and commentary on the concept of the Guardian in the Baha’I Writings is intended to provide materials for the study and understanding of the title and importance of the Guardian and that position's functions.

[Note: all bold and underlined typed quotes are compiler's emphasis.]

Baha'u'llah writes:

"Know thou that all men have been created in the nature made by God, the Guardian, the Self-Subsisting. Unto each one hath been prescribed a preordained measure, as decreed in God's mighty and guarded Tablets. All that which ye potentially possess can, however, be manifested only as a result of your own volition." (Gleanings p149)

Thus Baha'u'llah reveals that God, Himself, is the ultimate and true Guardian. However, there are other meanings as well for the title of Guardian in the Baha'i Writings, and the functions of those who hold the authority the title confers. Consider how the Prophets or Manifestations of God are also, successively, the Guardians, who are shown by the Text to be the Expounders or Interpreters of the Word of God, the Trustees of the depositories of Knowledge, the Treasuries of divine mysteries, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom:

"Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt." (Certitude p181)

"Those words uttered by the Luminaries of Truth must needs be pondered, and should their significance be not grasped, enlightenment should be sought from the Trustees of the depositories of Knowledge, that these may expound their meaning, and unravel their mystery. For it behooveth no man to interpret the holy words according to his own imperfect understanding, nor, having found them to be contrary to his inclination and desires, to reject and repudiate their truth." (Certitude pp181-182)

"Inasmuch as it hath been clearly shown that only those who are initiated into the divine mysteries can comprehend the melodies uttered by the Bird of Heaven, it is therefore incumbent upon every one to seek enlightenment from the illumined in heart and from the Treasuries of divine mysteries regarding the intricacies of God's Faith and the abstruse allusions in the utterances of the Daysprings of Holiness. Thus will these mysteries be unravelled, not by the aid of acquired learning, but solely through the assistance of God and the outpourings of His grace. 'Ask ye, therefore, of them that have the custody of the Scriptures, if ye know it not' (Qur'an 16:43)" (Certitude pp191-192)

"Were We to expound its inner meanings and unfold its hidden mysteries, eternity would never suffice to exhaust their import, nor would the universe be capable of hearing them!" (Certitude p204)

"The people, therefore, must not allow such utterances to deprive them of the divine bounties, but should rather seek enlightenment from them who are the recognized Expounders thereof, so that the hidden mysteries may be unravelled, and be made manifest unto them." (Certitude p256)

"If any of the utterances of this Servant may not be comprehended, or may lead to perturbation, the same must be inquired of again, that no doubt may linger, and the meaning be clear as the Face of the Beloved One....These journeys have no visible ending in the world of time, but the severed wayfarer - if invisible confirmation descend upon him and the Guardian of the Cause assist him - may cross these seven stages in seven steps, nay rather in seven breaths, nay rather in a single breath, if God will and desire it. And this is of 'His grace on such of His servants as He pleaseth.'" (Seven Valleys, pp 40-41)

"Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth forever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meanings can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom. Whoso, while reading the Sacred Scriptures, is tempted to choose therefrom whatever may suit him with which to challenge the authority of the Representative of God among men, is indeed, as one dead, though to outward seeming he may walk and converse with his neighbors, and share with them their food and their drink." (Gleanings pp175-176)

"The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinity grace,...hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence. These sanctified Mirrors, these Daysprings of ancient glory are one and all the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the Central Orb of the Universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose....They are the Treasuries of divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed the light that can never fade." (Certitude pp99-100)

[Note: Exponent is defined as "1. a person who sets forth, expounds, or interprets. 2. a person or thing that is an example or symbol (of something)."

"Moreover He hath in every age and cycle, in conformity with His transcendent wisdom, sent forth a divine Messenger to revive the dispirited and despondent souls with the living waters of His utterance, One Who is indeed the Expounder, the true Interpreter, inasmuch as man is unable to comprehend that which hath streamed forth from the Pen of Glory and is recorded in His heavenly Books. Men at all times and under all conditions stand in need of one to exhort them, guide them and to instruct and teach them. Therefore He hath sent forth His Messengers, His Prophets and chosen ones that they might acquaint the people with the divine purpose underlying the revelation of Books and the raising up of Messengers, and that everyone may become aware of the trust of God which is latent in the reality of every soul." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah p161)

Clearly, the Messengers, Prophets and chosen ones are the Expounders and Interpreters of the Word sent forth by God.

Baha'u'llah also warns against false interpretations by "lost ones" who are "deprived of the Spirit of God":

"Whoso interpreteth what hath been sent down from the heaven of Revelation, and altereth its evident meaning, he verily, is of them that have perverted the Sublime Word of God, and is of the lost ones in the Lucid Book." (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab'i'Aqdas, p23)

"Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt forgive him. If, however, he persisteth in his error, God will, assuredly, send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! Whosoever interpreteth this verse otherwise that its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which encompasseth all created things. Fear God, and follow not your idle fancies. Nay, rather follow the bidding of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Wise." (Kitab-I-Aqdas, Baha'i World Faith p211)

However, Baha'u'llah does allude that others, besides the Manifestations of God, should be regarded as "guardians":

"The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Baha, and should it exceed this number it does not matter....It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive." (Synopsis p13)

"O ye Men of Justice! Be ye in the realm of God shepherds unto His sheep and guard them from the ravening wolves that have appeared in disguise, even as ye would guard your own sons. Thus exhorteth you the Counsellor, the Faithful." (Synopsis p16)

"The religious endowments given especially for charity have been returned to God, the Appearing-place of Verses. No one may spend them except after permission of the Rising-place of Revelation. After him the command goes back to the Branches, and after them to the House of Justice. If His Cause is established throughout the lands, let them spend the endowments in the high places of this Cause and for what they were commanded by the Powerful, the Mighty One. Otherwise let them return to the people of al-Baha who only speak after permission is given by Him, and only command that which God has commanded in this Tablet. Those are the Guardians of Victory between the heavens and the earths. Let them spend them in the way defined in the Book by a Generous, Mighty One." (Kitab'i'Aqdas - RAS translation p36)

The above passages from the Kitab-I-Aqdas may be those to which Shoghi Effendi refers by saying Baha'u'llah therein "anticipates by implication the Institution of the Guardianship" (God Passes By p214).

Baha'u'llah explicitly conferred upon His son, Abdu'l Baha, known also as the Most Mighty Branch, the station of the Interpreter of the Word of God as His direct successor:

"When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root." (Synopsis, p24)

"When the Mystic Dove will have winged its flight from its Sanctuary of Praise and sought its far-off goal, its hidden habitation, refer ye whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath branched from this mighty Stock." (Synopsis, p27)

"The Will of the divine Testator is this: It is incumbent upon the Aghsan, the Afnan and My Kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: 'When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.' The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch. Thus have We graciously revealed unto you our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Powerful." (Book of the Covenant, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pp221-222)

Abdu'l Baha explained that the above passages and others meant He was, after the Ascension of Baha'u'llah, the Interpreter during His life-time:

"Also in all the Divine Tablets, especially in the Chapter of the Branch--all the meanings of which mean the Servitude of Abdu'l Baha, that is Abdu'l Baha--all that was needed to explain the Center of the Covenant and the Interpreter of the Book has been revealed from the Supreme Pen. Now as Abdu'l Baha is the Interpreter of the Book He says that the 'Chapter of the Branch' means Abdu'l Baha, that is, the servitude of 'Abdu'l Baha, and none other." (Baha'i World Faith p359)

Abdu'l Baha's interpretation was true and correct during His life-time. Only He was the appointed Interpreter of the Word during His life-time! However, even before the contents of His Will and Testament were made known revealing that He would be succeeded by Shoghi Effendi as the sign of God, the chosen branch and expounder of the Word of God, Abdu'l Baha made mention of guardians other than Himself that would be in this cycle:

"In each cycle the guardians and holy souls have been twelve. So Jacob had twelve sons; in the time of Moses there were twelve heads or chiefs of the tribes; in the time of Christ there were twelve Apostles; and in the time of Muhammad there were twelve Imams. But in this glorious manifestation there are twenty-four, double the number of all the others, for the greatness of this manifestation requires it. These holy souls are in the presence of God seated on their own thrones: meaning they reign eternally." (Some Answered Questions p67)

"To epitomize: essential sinlessness belongs especially to the universal Manifestations, and the acquired sinlessness is granted to every holy soul. For instance, the General House of Justice, if it be established under the necessary conditions - with members elected from all the people - that House of Justice will be under the protection and guardianship of God. If that House of Justice shall decide unanimously, or by a majority, upon any question not mentioned in the Book, that decision and command will be guarded from mistake. Now the members of the House of Justice have not, individually, essential sinlessness; but the body of the House of Justice is under the protection of God: this is called conferred infallibility." (Some Answered Questions, 1964 edition, pp198-199)

Abdu'l Baha in His Will and Testament made provision for the Institution of the Guardianship with the function of being the expounder of the Word of God to continue after His own passing:

"O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches), the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi--the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness,--as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the expounder of the words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants." (WT p11)

"The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him! The mighty stronghold 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 Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him." (WT p11)

"My object is to show that the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God cast him out from the congregation of the people of Baha and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grievous error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men!" (WT p12)

"O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own lifetime him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:--'The child is the secret essence of its sire,' that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual essence within him (the guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him." (WT p12)

"The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons....and these, whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor." (WT p12)

"O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command....This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God." (WT pp12-13)

"By this body [UHJ] all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. Should he not attend in person its deliberations, he must appoint one to represent him. Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead." (WT p14)

"O friends of Abdu'l Baha! The Lord as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him, though He, the True One and His servants have been at all times independent of all created things, and God verily is the All-Possessing, exalted above the need of any gift from His Creatures. This fixed money offering, however, causeth the people to become firm and steadfast and draweth Divine increase upon them. It is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be expended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of God and the exaltation of His word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal." (WT p15)

"O ye faithful loved ones of Abdu'l Baha! It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi, the twig that hath branched from and the fruit given forth by the two hallowed and Divine Lote-Trees, that no dust of despondency and sorrow may stain his radiant nature, that day by day he may wax greater in happiness, in joy and spirituality, and may grow to become even as a fruitful tree.

"For he is, after Abdu'l Baha, the guardian of the Cause of God, the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One. Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Baha'u'llah) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation. To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular convictions. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.

The Glory of Glories rest upon you!" (WT pp25-26)

Abdu'l Baha is known as the Center of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. In the final passage of the Will and Testament quoted above we read that the guardian of the Cause of God is the Center of the Cause after Abdu'l Baha. Consider the similarity to this:

"As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Baha'u'llah - a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past - is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making is impossible for any one to create a new sect or faction of belief. To insure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world including the Interpreter and Explainer of His teachings so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine words. The Book of the Covenant or Testament of Baha'u'llah is the means of preventing such a possibility, for whosoever shall speak from the authority of himself alone shall be degraded. Be ye informed and cognizant of this." (Baha'i World Faith, p248)

"To ward off such dissensions as these [which occurred after Christ's ascension] and prevent any person from creating a division or sect the Blessed Perfection, Baha'u'llah, appointed a central authoritative Personage, declaring Him to be the expounder of the Book. This implies that the people in general do not understand the meanings of the Book, but this appointed One does understand. Therefore Baha'u'llah said, 'He is the explainer of My Book and the Center of My Testament.'" (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p383)

"In brief, O ye believers of God! The text of the Divine Book is this: If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the Divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute might arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love. Should there appear the least trace of controversy, they must remain silent, and both parties must continue their discussions no longer, but ask the reality of the question from the Interpreter. This is the irrefutable command!" (Baha'i World Faith pp428-9)

Abdu'l Baha, as the Center of the Covenant, safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms by His authoritative interpretations and explanations. Abdu'l Baha explained that the Center is the Expounder of the Book to whom all should turn for guidance (PUP p323). Likewise the Guardian, in a lesser station and capacity, performs the same function as the Center of the Cause and expounder of the Word. Shoghi Effendi confirms that the institution of the Guardianship is the "Center" of Abdu'l Baha's Will and Testament.

"The preliminary measures, heralding the unfoldment of the institution of the Guardianship, the pivot of Abdu'l Baha's Will and Testament, have been adopted, through the appointment of the first two contingents of the Hands of the Cause,..." (Messages to the Baha'i World, p148)

In Webster's New World Thesaurus "pivot" is stated to be synonomous with "center". The "Center" of the Cause mentioned in the Will and Testament is the "pivot" of that document. Thus as Abdu'l Baha is the Center of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah so is the institution of the Guardianship the Center of the Cause of God or the pivot of the Will and Testament. However, we must bear in mind the following words of caution of Shoghi Effendi:

"Dearly-beloved friends! Exalted as is the position and vital as is the function of the Guardianship in the Administrative Order of Baha'u'llah, and staggering as must be the weight of responsibility which it carries, its importance must, whatever be the language of the Will, be in no wise over-emphasized. The Guardian of the Faith must not under any circumstances, and whatever his merits or his achievements, be exalted to the rank that will make him a co-sharer with Abdu'l Baha in the unique position which the Center of the Covenant occupies - much less to the station exclusively ordained for the Manifestations of God. So grave a departure from the established tenets of our Faith is nothing short of open blasphemy." (The Dispensation of Baha'u'lllah pp58-59)

Also Abdu'l Baha described another "Center" of this Cause thus:

"But the Collective Center of the Kingdom, embodying the Institutes and Divine Teachings, is the eternal Collective Center....Consequently, the real Collective Center is the body of the divine teachings, which include all degrees and embrace all the universal relations and necessary laws of humanity, etc." (Baha'i World Faith pp419-420)

"This is the foundation of the belief of the people of Baha (may my life be offered up for them). 'His Holiness, the Exalted One, (the Bab) is the Manifestation of the Unity and Oneness of God and the Forerunner of the Ancient Beauty. His Holiness the Abha Beauty (may my life be a sacrifice for His steadfast friends) is the Supreme Manifestation of God and the Dayspring of His Most Holy Divine Essence. All others are servants unto Him and do His bidding.' Unto the Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal 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. By this House is meant the Universal House of Justice which is to be elected from all countries, that is from those parts in the East and West where the loved ones are to be found, after the manner of the customary elections in Western countries such as those of England." (Will and Testament p19-20)

Thus, according to the Text of the Will and Testament, the Baha'is are instructed to turn for guidance to the text of the Holy Books revealed by Baha'u'llah, the interpretations of the Guardian and the legislative decisions of the House of Justice. These each may be regarded as "Centers" of the Cause of God. The Guardian is explicitly given the function of interpretation of the Book. He protects or guards the Cause and the Word from error in interpretation. The Guardian interprets the revealed Text to insure the continued flow of grace from that Source of Divine Guidance. The UHJ legislates on the matters of State and civic affairs of the people which are not explicit in the Book.

How the individual who is appointed Guardian and inherits the authority of being the expounder of the Word attains his inspired understanding of that Word is a mystery difficult to comprehend. The following passages may reveal this to a degree:

"Only those will attain to the knowledge of the Word of God that have turned unto Him, and repudiated the manifestations of Satan....Wert thou to heed these words, wert thou to ponder their outward and inner meaning in thy heart, thou wouldst seize the significance of all the abstruse problems which, in this day, have become insuperable barriers between men and the knowledge of the Day of Judgement. Then wilt thou have no more questions to perplex thee." (Certitude p122-123)

"The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit." (Certitude p211)

"They that, for the sake of God, arise to serve His Cause, are the recipients of divine inspiration from the unseen Kingdom. It is incumbent upon all to be obedient unto them. All matters of State should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according to that which God hath revealed in His Book." (Ishraqat, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pp128-129)

The latter statement specifically applies in its context to the House of Justice; however, it may also be intended as a general statement including the guardians and other holy souls as well. Consider it thus in comparison with Some Answered Questions discussion of acquired sinlessness on pages 198-199, partially quoted above in reference to the UHJ being under the guardianship of God. The rest of the appropriate passage is:

"But acquired sinlessness is not a natural necessity; on the contrary, it is a ray of the bounty of Sinlessness which shines from the Sun of Reality upon hearts, and grants a share and portion of itself to souls. Although these souls have not essential sinlessness, still they are under the protection of God: that is to say, God preserves them from sin. Thus many of the holy beings who were not dawning-points of the Supreme Sinlessness, were yet kept and preserved from sin under the shadow of the protection and guardianship of God; for they were the mediators of grace between God and men. If God did not protect them from error, their error would cause believing souls to fall into error, and thus the foundation of the Religion of God would be overturned, which would not be fitting nor worthy of God." (Some Answered Questions p198)

It is helpful to compare the above with Abdu'l Baha's blessing upon all who turn to the Guardian:

"Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind." (Will and Testament p3)

As a closing for the present, consider Shoghi Effendi's words:

"The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is a 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 Baha'u'llah 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." (The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah p58)

“Moreover, he 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.”

(Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha'u'llah, Page: 153)

"Future Guardians cannot abrogate the interpretations of the former Guardians, as this would imply not only lack of guidance but mistakes in making them; however they can elaborate and elucidate former interpretations, and can certainly abrogate some former ruling laid down as a temporary necessity by a former Guardian." (Baha'i News, July 1947, letter to Emeric Sala in Feb 19, 1947)

"He (the Guardian) feels that if (the letter's recipient) ponders more deeply about the foundamentals of Divine Revelations, she will also come to understand the Guardianship. Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through mouthpiece, a human being, a prophet, infallible, and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abdu'l Baha and the Guardians.

The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world and of needing one world management for human affairs.

In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands, i.e., the Guardians, guided directly by Bab and Baha'u'llah, as the Master states in His will, the affairs of the faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by 'This is the day which will not be followed by night.' In this Dispensation, Divine guidance flows onto us in this world after the prophets ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians." (Baha'i News, June 1950, letter to Helen Campbell)

"Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Baha'u'llah would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as Abdu'l Baha has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God. 'In all the Divine Dispensations,' He states, in a Tablet addressed to a follower of the Faith in Persia, 'the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophethood hath been his birthright.' Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be 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." (The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah p56)

God's Will is done! Praised be God! Peace.

Brent B. Mathieu

First version March 18, 1992

Second revision May 7, 1992

Third revision May 18, 2004

Appendix: "The people are ignorant, and they stand in need of those who will expound the truth." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah p170-1)

The only true explainer of the Book of God is the Holy Spirit, for no two minds are alike, no two comprehend alike, no two can speak alike. (Promulgation of Universal Peace p212)

The Texts of the Holy Books are all symbolical, needing authoritative interpretation. (Promulgation of Universal Peace p220)

It is incumbent upon everyone to aid those daysprings of authority and sources of command who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. Blessed are the rulers and the learned among the people of Baha. They are My trustees among My servants and the manifestations of My commandments amidst My people. Upon them rest My glory, My blessings and My grace which have pervaded the world of being. In this connection the utterances revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas are such that from the horizon of their words the light of divine grace shineth luminous and resplendent.

(Baha'u'llah: Book of the Covenant, It is incumbent upon everyone to aid those daysprings of authority and sources of command who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. Blessed are the rulers and the learned among the people of Baha. They are My trustees among My servants and the manifestations of My commandments amidst My people. Upon them rest My glory, My blessings and My grace which have pervaded the world of being. In this connection the utterances revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas are such that from the horizon of their words the light of divine grace shineth luminous and resplendent.

(Baha'u'llah: Tablets of Baha'u'llah, Page: 221)

Tablets of Baha'u'llah, Page: 221)

Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations. (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p13)