SHOGHI EFFENDI RABBANI
THE FIRST GUARDIAN OF THE BAHA’I FAITH
The following notes is written in the memory of the first Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, who guarded the Faith for 36 years, that was founded by Baha’u’llah in 1863; who implemented the World Order of Baha’u’llah, established by the Founder, in His most Holy Book, the Kit’ab-i-Aghdas and defined and explained by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in His Will and Testament; who wrote numerous books, articles and letters to show his and the future generations the significant of the institutions of the World Order of Baha’u’llah, such as the Institution of Guardianship, the Institution of the Universal House of Justice, the Institution of Hands of the Cause etc.,; who worked extremely hard to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, as foretold by His Holiness Jesus Christ nearly two thousand years ago: “Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven…”1 ; who was betrayed by the people surrounding him after he passed away in the early morning of 4 November, 1957.
The first Guardian of the Baha’i Faith was born on 3rd of March, 1896 and he left this world on 4 November, 1957, as it is recorded in “The passing of Shoghi Effendi”, a booklet written by Ruhiyyih Khanum.1 Shoghi Effendi was related to The Bab through his father, Mírzá Hádí Shírází, and to Baha’u’llah through his mother, Díyá'íyyih Khanum, the eldest daughter of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. In 1937 he married Mary Maxwell, a Canadian lady, known as Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum. She served the first Guardian of the Faith faithfully and in her writings, published prior to ascension of Shoghi Effendi is the evidence of her loyalty to the 1st Guardian and the Covenant. The reader’s attention is drawn to “TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF THE GUARDIANSHIP” by Ruhiyyih Khanum.4 “… for the two Wills – those of Baha’u’llah and the Master” writes Ruhiyyih Khanum “are so strongly constructed and so authentic beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is impossible to divorce the body of the teachings from their provisions. The principle of successorship, endowed with the right of Divine interpretation, is the very hub of the Cause into which it’s Doctrines and Laws fit like the spokes of a wheel- tear out of the hub and you have to throw away the whole thing.”2 In another article she writes: “…that Manifestation [Baha’u’llah]has not taken His Finger from the pulse of the world but will, first through the Master and then through a line of Guardians, directly exert a guiding influence from on High over the destinies of men.”3
Shoghi Effendi was successor to ‘Abdu’l-Baha in accordance with His Will and Testament opened on the ninth day of His ascension. “O my loving friends!”, ‘Abdu’l-Baha writes “After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsán (Branches), the Afnán (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abhá 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 Aghsán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents.” In the same document ‘Abdu’l-Baha further writes “O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God [under line added] to appoint in his own life-time 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 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.”4
The account of Shoghi Effendi’s personal life has been documented by others and it is not the purpose of this article to reflect them here again. Nor it is the purpose of these notes to reflect even very briefly the result of his 36 years of his continuous hard work on the protection of the Faith; on the implementation of the World Order of Baha’u’llah; on his writings on the Baha’i Faith and its administration. Rather to concentrate on one of his most important duties in appointing his successor to protect the Faith after his ascension.
The reader has noted that, it was “incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God [under line added] to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor that differences may not arise after his passing.” It was Shoghi Effendi’s duty to appoint his successor in his life time.
In fulfilling his duty, the Guardian in his own life-time, not only he appointed his successor, he also formed the embryo of the Universal House of Justice with its president C.M.Remey. On 9th of January, 1951, the first Guardian of the Faith sent the following Cablegram to the Baha’i World: “Proclaim National Assemblies (of) East (and) West weighty epoch-making decision (of) formation (of) first International Baha’i Council, forerunner (of) supreme administrative institution destined (to) emerge (in) fullness (of) time within precincts beneath shadow (of) World Spiritual Center (of) Faith already established (in) twin cities (of) ‘Akká (and) Haifa. Fulfillment (of) prophecies uttered (by) Founder (of) Faith (and) Center (of) His Covenant culminating (in) establishment (of) Jewish State, signalizing birth after lapse (of) two thousand years (of an) independent nation (in the) Holy Land, (the) swift unfoldment (of) historic undertaking associated (with) construction (of) superstructure (of the) Báb’s Sepulchre (on) Mount Carmel, (the) present adequate maturity (of) nine vigorously functioning national administrative institutions throughout Baha’i World, combine (to) induce me (to) arrive (at) this historic decision marking most significant milestone (in) evolution (of) Administrative Order (of the) Faith (of) Baha’u’llah (in) course (of) last thirty years. Nascent Institution now created (is) invested (with) threefold function: first, (to) forge link (with) authorities (of) newly emerged State; second, (to) assist me (to) discharge responsibilities involved (in) erection (of) mighty superstructure (of the) Báb’s Holy Shrine; third, (to) conduct negotiations related (to) matters (of) personal status (with) civil authorities. To these will be added further functions (in) course (of) evolution (of) this first embryonic International Institution, marking its development into officially recognized Baha’i Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House (of) Justice, (and) its final fruition through erection (of) manifold auxiliary institutions constituting (the) World Administrative Center destined (to) arise (and) function (and) remain permanently established (in) close neighborhood (of) Twin Holy Shrines. Hail (with) thankful, joyous heart (at) long last (the) constitution (of) International Council which history will acclaim (as the) greatest event shedding lustre (upon) second epoch (of) Formative Age (of) Baha’i Dispensation potentially unsurpassed (by) any enterprise undertaken since inception (of) Administrative Order (of) Faith (on) morrow (of) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Ascension, ranking second only (to) glorious immortal events associated (with) Ministries (of the) Three Central Figures (of) Faith (in) course (of) First Age (of) most glorious Dispensation (of the) five thousand century Baha’i Cycle. Advice publicize announcement through Public Relations Committee.” 5
Shoghi, Cable gram of 9 January, 1951
Shoghi Effendi, in another Cablegram of March 8, 1952 writes “The enlargement of the International Baha’i Council. Present membership now comprises: Amatu’l-Baha R’uhiyyih, chosen liaison between me and the Council. Hands of the Cause, Mason Remey, Amelia Collins, Ugo Giachery, Leroy Aoas, President, Vice-President, member at large, Secretary-General, respectively. Jesse Revell, Ethel Revell, Lotfullah Hakim, Treasurer, Western and Eastern assistant Secretaries.5
International Baha’i Council was like an unborn child that it was fed trough its umbilical cord. Ruhiyyih Khanum was liaison between the Council and the Guardian and through Ruhiyyih Khanum, the Guardian provided directions to the individuals to carry out his orders. When the first Guardian left this world, there was no need of the liaison officer, Ruhiyyih Khanum. The Council became an active organ, the heart and nerve center of the Baha’i Administration. “To these will be added further functions” writes Shoghi Effendi “(in) course (of) evolution (of) this first embryonic International Institution, marking its development into officially recognized Baha’i Court, its transformation into duly elected body, its efflorescence into Universal House (of) Justice, (and) its final fruition through erection (of) manifold auxiliary institutions constituting (the) World Administrative Center destined (to) arise (and) function (and) remain permanently established (in) close neighborhood (of) Twin Holy Shrines.”5 In his weighty treatise of February, 1934, known as The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, the first Guardian fully explained the stations of the Bab, Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha together the importance of the Institutions of Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice and the relationship between these two Institutions of the World Order of Baha’u’llah. To protect the Faith and the World Order of Baha’u’llah, he left no ambiguity that the Universal House of Justice is to be formed in accordance with the Writing and he withdraw validity and authenticity of any institution that is not formed in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. In his letter to the Persian Baha’i Communities, as early as summer of 1925, he writes “Any institution that is not established in accordance with the Divine Order, not in conformity with the principles and the conditions recorded in the Holy Writings, as it is required for this august institution, consequently such an institution is void of credential deprived of spiritual station, and forbidden to have any right to legislate and enact laws and ordinances which are not explicitly recorded in the Holy Writings. It also lacks the essential qualities and the Divine confirmation.”6
After passing of Shoghi Effendi, the successor to the first Guardian was not guarded and together with the severity of the Divine Test7, laid before the entire body of the believers in Baha’u’llah, caused Ruhiyyih Khanum together with the rest of the Hands of The Faith, except C. M. Remey, to turn around and oppose the continuation of Guardianship. That was violation of the Will and Testament. That was violation of the Covenant. Their action against the continuation of Guardianship and the Covenant was the fulfilment of the verse of the Kit’ab-i-Aghdas where Baha’u’llah states: ”They that have violated the Covenant of God by breaking His commandments, and have turned back on their heels, these have erred grievously in the sight of God, the All-Possessing, the Most High.”8 In fact Ruhiyyih Khanum and the rest of the Hands of the Faith turned on their heels and through away the Commandments.
The body of the Hands of the Faith, in their first conclave [meeting for secret conversation] did not consider the importance of the International Baha’i Council and its president, C. M. Remey, nor they made any attempt to reconsider their stand against the continuation of Guardianship after they received the correspondences [the 1st, the 2nd and the last appeals] from the president of the International Baha’i Council prior to C.M. Remey’s Proclamation of Ridvan, 117 B.E., April 1960. Review of “The passing of Shoghi Effendi” by Ruhiyyih Khanum shows that She together with the rest of the Hands purposely ignored International Baha’i Council and its president C. M. Remey completely from the moment the first Guardian left this world. It was the duty of Ruhiyyih Khanum to inform first and only the president of International Baha’i Council the health condition of the Guardian and seek direction from its president. On contrary Ruhiyyih Khanum first called Mr. Balyuzi, then Mr. Ferraby, then Ugo Giachery not C.M. Remey who was living at the home of the first Guardian of the Faith who was the president of the embryo of the Universal House of Justice that was to evolve into the Universal House of Justice. Ruhiyyih Khanum by passed the Council and its president. She sent the following Cablegram to the National Assemblies around the world. She stated “BELOVED ALL HEARTS PRECIOUS GUARDIAN CAUSE GOD PASSED PEACEFULLY AWAY YESTERDAY AFTER ASIATIC FLU STOP APPEAL HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES AUXILIARY BOARDS SHELTER BELIEVERS ASSIST MEET HEARTRENDING SUPREME TEST STOP FUNERAL OUR GUARDIAN BELOVED GUARDIAN SATURDAY LONDON HANDS ASSEMBLY BOARD MEMBERS INVITED ATTEND ANY PRESS RELEASE SHOULD STATE MEETING HANDS SHORTLY HAIFA WILL MAKE ARRANGEMENT TO BAHAI WORLD REGARDING FUTURE OLANS STOP URGE HOLD MEMORIAL MEETING SATURDAY.”9
The reader has noted that in this cablegram, Ruhiyyih Khanum has bypassed the Council and its president, and directly contacting the national assemblies. Further she has taken an authority role that she did not possess as a hand of the cause singly or collectively with the rest of the Hands. She has requested the believers to turn to the Hands for shelter, not the embryo of the Universal House of Justice, not its president, C. M. Remey. She has assumed, with the rest of the Hands, authority for future planning on the Faith that she and the rest of the Hands did not have in accordance with the Will and Testament. If there was not any other document on the violation of the Covenant by Ruhiyyih Khanum and the rest of the Hands, the account of “The passing of Shoghi Effendi” by Ruhiyyih Khanum is sufficient proof of her violation and disloyalty to the commandments written in the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Will and Testament and in the writings of Shoghi Effendi particularly “The dispensation of Baha’u’llah”. In her account of “The passing of Shoghi Effendi”, Ruhiyyih Khanum, on one hand, has praised the Guardian and on the other hand, has abandoned the Institution of Guardianship in the Baha’i Faith, the Institution that the unity of the Faith depends on. It seems to the writer that the account of “The passing Shoghi Effendi” is “Judas’s Kiss”. It is with great sadness to witness that Ruhiyyih Khanum, by her own action, went down to the history of the Baha’i Faith, as the “Archviolator” of the Formative Age of the Baha’i Faith. The rest of the Hands do share her guilt on violation of the Covenant and their disobedience to the second Guardian of the Faith, C.M. Remey.
The Cause of Baha’u’llah will be recognised by the people of the world and the authentic Universal House of Justice, with Guardian as its permanent head, will be established on earth and the Kingdom of God will be realised and the prophesies of past will be fulfilled. Meanwhile the believers in Baha’u’llah are encouraged to study the Writings to deepen our understanding of the Faith for better teaching and propagation of the Baha’i Faith among the people of the World.
1. Lord’s Prayer
2. Ruhiyyah Khanum, Twenty Five Years of Guardianship, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois, 1948
3. Ruhiyyah Khanum, Success in Teaching, American Baha’i News, No. 220, June 1949 and Persian اخبار امری شماره 5 سال 106
4. Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
5. Shoghi Effendi, Message to the Baha’i World, Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1958, 1971
6. From the letter of Shoghi Effendi, to the eastern believers, date summer 1925.
7. Refer to “Divine Tests”, by E.S. Yazdani, RIDVAN magazine, No. 5 August 2007
9. The account of the passing of the 1st Guardian is recorded in “The passing of Shoghi Effendi” by Ruhiyyah Khanum in collaboration with John Ferraby dated December 9th, 1957 published by Baha’i Publishing Trust at 27 Rutland Gate, London, S.W. 7 in 1958