Sources of the Baha'i World Order
It would, however, be helpful and instructive to bear in mind certain basic principles with reference to the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha, which, together with the Kitab-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 Bah‡'’ 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 complementary, but that they mutually confirm one another, and are inseparable parts of one complete unit. A comparison of their contents with the rest of Bah‡'’ sacred Writings will similarly establish the conformity of whatever they contain with the spirit as well as the letter of the authenticated writings and sayings of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha. In fact, he who reads the Aqdas with care and diligence will not find it hard to discover that the Most Holy Book itself anticipates in a number of passages the institutions which `Abdu'l-Baha ordains in His Will. By leaving certain matters unspecified and unregulated in His Book of Laws, Baha'u'llah seems to have deliberately left a gap in the general scheme of Bah‡'’ Dispensation, which the unequivocal provisions of the Master's Will have filled. To attempt to divorce the one from the other, to insinuate that the Teachings of Bah‡'u'll‡h have not been upheld, in their entirety and with absolute integrity, by what `Abdu'l-Bah‡ has revealed in His Will, is an unpardonable affront to the unswerving fidelity that has characterized the life and labors of our beloved Master.
I will not attempt in the least to assert or demonstrate the authenticity of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bah‡, for that in itself would betray an apprehension on my part as to the unanimous confidence of the believers in the genuineness of the last written wishes of our departed Master. I will only confine my observations to those issues which may assist them to appreciate the essential unity that underlies the spiritual, the humanitarian, and the administrative principles enunciated by the Author and the Interpreter of the Bah‡'’ Faith.
I am at a loss to explain that strange mentality that inclines to uphold as the sole criterion of the truth of the Bah‡'’ Teachings what is admittedly only an obscure and unauthenticated translation of an oral statement made by `Abdu'l-Bah‡, in defiance and total disregard of the available text of all of His universally recognized writings. I truly deplore the unfortunate distortions that have resulted in days past from the incapacity of the interpreter to grasp the meaning of `Abdu'l-Bah‡, and from his incompetence to render adequately such truths as have been revealed to him by the Master's statements. Much of the confusion that has obscured the understanding of the believers should be attributed to this double error involved in the inexact rendering of an only partially understood statement. Not infrequently has the interpreter even failed to convey the exact purport of the inquirer's specific questions, and, by his deficiency of understanding and expression in conveying the answer of `Abdu'l-Bah‡, has been responsible for reports wholly at variance with the true spirit and purpose of the Cause. It was chiefly in view of the misleading nature of the reports of the informal conversations of `Abdu'l-Bah‡ with visiting pilgrims, that I have insistently urged the believers of the West to regard such statements as merely personal impressions of the sayings of their Master, and to quote and consider as authentic only such translations as are based upon the authenticated text of His recorded utterances in the original tongue.
It should be remembered by every follower of the Cause that the system of Bah‡'’ administration is not an innovation imposed arbitrarily upon the Bah‡'’s of the world since the Master's passing, but derives its authority from the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bah‡, is specifically prescribed in unnumbered Tablets, and rests in some of its essential features upon the explicit provisions of the Kit‡b-i-Aqdas. It thus unifies and correlates the principles separately laid down by Bah‡'u'll‡h and `Abdu'l-Bah‡, and is indissolubly bound with the essential verities of the Faith. To dissociate the administrative principles of the Cause from the purely spiritual and humanitarian teachings would be tantamount to a mutilation of the body of the Cause, a separation that can only result in the disintegration of its component parts, and the extinction of the Faith itself.
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 Bah‡'u'll‡h in the Kit‡b-i-Aqdas, and repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by `Abdu'l-Bah‡ in His Will. It does not constitute in any manner a contradiction to the Will and Writings of Bah‡'u'll‡h, 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 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 hand of the Master-builder of the world has designed for the unification and the triumph of the world-wide Faith of Bah‡'u'll‡h. 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. They only will appreciate the significance of the vigorous language employed by `Abdu'l-Bah‡ with reference to the band of Covenant-breakers that has opposed Him in His days. To them alone will be revealed the suitability of the institutions initiated by `Abdu'l-Bah‡ to the character of the future society which is to emerge out of the chaos and confusion of the present age. In this connection, I cannot but feel amused at the preposterous and fantastic idea that Muhammad-`Al’, the prime mover and the focal center of unyielding hostility to the person of `Abdu'l-Bah‡, should have freely associated himself with the members of the family of `Abdu'l-Bah‡ in the forging of a will which in the words of the writer herself, is but a "recital of the plottings" in which for thirty years Muhammad-`Al’ has been busily engaged. To such a hopeless victim of confused ideas, I feel I can best reply by a genuine expression of compassion and pity, mingled with my hopes for her deliverance from so profound a delusion. It was in view of the aforesaid observations, that I have, after the unfortunate and unavoidable delay occasioned by my ill health and absence from the Holy Land during the Master's passing, hesitated to resort to the indiscriminate circulation of the Will, realizing full well that it was primarily directed to the recognized believers, and only indirectly concerned the larger body of the friends and sympathizers of the Cause.