More Books by Ruhiyyih Khanum

The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith
The Passing of Shoghi Effendi
The Priceless Pearl Part 1
The Priceless Pearl Part 2
Twenty Five Years of the Guardianship
Free Interfaith Software

Web - Windows - iPhone

Ruhiyyih Khanum : The Priceless Pearl Part 2

During that same year the Guardian began work on the second book published during this period, a work that was neither a

Page 215

translation of Bahá'u'lláh's words nor one of Shoghi Effendi's general letters, but which must be considered a literary masterpiece and one of his most priceless gifts for all time. This was the translation of the first part of the narrative compiled by a contemporary follower of both The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh known as Nabil, which was published in 1932 under the title The Dawn-Breakers. If the critic and sceptic should be tempted to dismiss the literature of the Bahá'í Faith as typical of the better class of religious books designed for the initiate only, he could not for a moment so brush aside a volume of the quality of Nabil's Narrative , which deserves to be counted as a classic among epic narratives in the English tongue. Although ostensibly a translation from the original Persian Shoghi Effendi may be said to have re-created it in English, his translation being comparable to Fitzgerald's rendering of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat which gave to the world a poem in a foreign language that in many ways far exceeded the merits of the original. The best and most descriptive comments on this masterpiece of the Guardian are to be found in the words of prominent non-Bahá'ís. The playwright Gordon Bottemley wrote: " with it has been one of the salient experiences of a lifetime; but beyond that it was a moving experience both in itself and through the psychological light it throws on the New Testament narrative." The well-known scholar and humanitarian, Dr Alfred W. Martin of the Ethical Culture Society, in his letter of thanks to Shoghi Effendi for sending him Nabil's Narrative wrote: "Your magnificent and monumental work...will be a classic and a standard for all time to come. I marvel beyond measure at your ability to prepare such a work for the press over and above all the activities which your regular professional position devolves upon you." One of his old professors, Bayard Dodge of the American University of Beirut, after receiving the gift of Nabil's Narrative from the Guardian wrote to him: "...The last book - The Dawn-Breakers - is an especially valuable contribution. In congratulate you heartily for publishing it. You must have worked very hard to produce such a splendid translation, with such very interesting notes and photographs."

At a later date he commented at length upon this unique volume:

I have profited by the leisure of the summer to read Nabil's Narrative ... Everyone interested in religion and also in history owes you a very great debt of gratitude for publishing such a fine piece of work. The deeper side of the work is so impressive, that it seems hardly fitting to compliment you upon some of the practical matters

Page 216

connected with the translation. However, I cannot refrain from telling you how much I appreciate your taking the time from a busy life to accomplish such a large task.

The quality of the English and the delightful ease of reading the translation are extraordinary, as usually a translation if difficult to read. You have been splendid in making the book so neutral and in adding the footnotes, which make the work more a matter of scientific history than anything like propaganda. The force of the book is very great, because the translation is so scientific and the original authorship so spontaneous, that the whole work must seem genuine, even to the most cynical critic.

From the point of history, the work is of the greatest possible value. It is also tremendously useful, as it explains the psychology which lies back of our great movements of religious revelation. Of course the chief value is the light that is thrown upon the early history of the Bahá'í Movement. The lives of the first converts are tremendously inspiring.

I am loaning my copy to Prof. Crawford and Prof. Seelye and hope that many of our professors and students will find time to read such an instructive and stimulating book.

Although such an understanding appreciation of what his work represented from such a source must have pleased and touched Shoghi Effendi there can be no doubt that the letter which Sir E. Denison Ross, the well-known Orientalist, wrote to him from the School of Oriental Studies of the University of London was the most highly prized tribute he received:

27th April, 1932
My dear Shoghi Effendi,

It was most kind of you to remember me and send me copies of your two latest works, which I am very proud to possess, especially as coming from such a quarter. The Dawn Breakers is really one of the most beautiful books I have seen for many years; the paper, printing, and illustrations are all exquisite, and as for your English style, it really could not be bettered, and never does it read like a translation. Allow me to convey my warmest congratulations on your most successful achievement of what you set out to do when you came to Oxford, namely, to attain a perfect command of our language.

Apart from all this, Nabil's narrative will be of the utmost service to me in the lectures I deliver here every Session on The Báb and the Baha.

Trusting you are in good health,
I remain,
Yours very sincerely,
E. Denison Ross
Page 217

Shoghi Effendi himself, in a letter to Martha Root written on 3 March 1931, described what The Dawn-Breakers is and what its production has meant to him: "I have just completed, after eight months of continuous and hard labour, the translation of the history of the early days of the Cause and have sent the manuscript to the American National Assembly. The work comprises about 600 pages and 200 pages of additional notes that I have gleaned during the summer months from different books. I have been so absorbed in this work that I have been forced to delay my correspondence... I am now so tired and exhausted that I can hardly write...The record is an authentic one and deals chiefly with The Báb. Parts of it have been read to Bahá'u'lláh and been revised by `Abdu'l-Bahá... I am so overcome with fatigue caused by the long and sever strain of the work I have undertaken that I must stop and lie down."

In anticipation of its forthcoming appearance Shoghi Effendi cabled American in October 1931: "Urge all English speaking believers concentrate study Nabil's immortal narrative as essential preliminary to renewed intensive Teaching Campaign necessitated by completion Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. Strongly feel widespread use of its varied rich and authentic material constitutes most effective weapon to meet challenge of a critical hour. Unhesitatingly recommend it to every prospective visitor of Bahá'u'lláh's native land."

The volume Shoghi Effendi recommended to the study of the believers is 748 pages long and contains over 150 photographs; it has a detailed genealogy of The Báb prepared by the guardian in his own hand and reproduced in facsimile; in addition to the text, based on the original of Nabil, but transfigured through the brilliant handling it received as it passed through the mind and vocabulary of Shoghi Effendi, the copious footnotes he appended, in English and French, collected from innumerable sources, cast an illumination on the events it records which greatly enhances its historical interest and validity. A signed and numbered edition de luxe of 300 copies was published with the general edition. It took Shoghi Effendi almost two years of research, compilation and translation to complete this remarkable volume. In the course of 1930 he sent an Australian Bahá'í photographer to Persia to painstakingly retrace the footsteps of The Báb in His native land, the scenes of His and His followers' martyrdoms and many historic sites. Had Shoghi Effendi not done this all visual trace of many of these places in more or less their original state would have been

Page 218

lost forever. In addition to selecting the photographs for Nabil's Narrative Shoghi Effendi made very careful arrangements to send to America what he described as a "priceless trust", no less than the original Tablets of The Báb to His nineteen disciples, and the infinitely precious one addressed to Bahá'u'lláh as "Him Who Will Be Made Manifest "; these were reproduced in full in faultless facsimiles. He chose as his frontispiece a coloured reproduction of the interior of the Shrine of The Báb. At last the Guardian had a worthy gift entirely his own to bestow upon the one he had loved best:

The Greatest Holy Leaf
The last Survivor of a Glorious and Heroic Age
I Dedicate This Work
In Token of a
Great Debt of Gratitude and Love

The Bahá'ís of the West emerged from the experience of reading this history of the life and times of The Báb transfigured; it was as if some of the precious blood of those early martyrs had been spattered upon them. They caught a glimpse of the tradition behind them, they saw that this was a Faith for which one carried one's life in one's hand, they understood what Shoghi Effendi was talking about and what he expected from them when he called them the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers. The seeds this book planted in the hearts of the western followers of Bahá'u'lláh grew and matured in the Ten Year Crusade, and its harvest will continue to be garnered ever more abundantly as the Divine Plan of `Abdu'l-Bahá goes on unfolding in its conquest of the entire globe.

In 1935 Shoghi Effendi again present the western Bahá'ís with a magnificent gift, published under the title Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh , which the Guardian himself described, in a letter to Sir Herbert Samuel, as "consisting of a selection of the most characteristic and hitherto unpublished passages from the outstanding works of the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation." Remembering the scanty pages of the New Testament, the reputed words of Buddha and mere handful of sayings of some other Divine luminaries, which nevertheless have transfigured for centuries the lives of millions of men, the Gleanings alone seems to provide a source of guidance and inspiration sufficient for the spiritual Dispensation of any Prophet. Professor Norman Bentwich, in thanking Shoghi Effendi for a copy of the Gleanings he

Page 219

had sent him, said "I prize it with the other fruits of your industrious piety" - truly a beautiful description of the nature of Shoghi Effendi's work to bring to the Western World the words of the Manifestation of God in this day. But surely the most treasured tribute to this book was that of Queen Marie of Rumania who told Martha Root: "even doubters would find a powerful strength in it, if they would read it alone, and would give their souls time to expand." To Shoghi Effendi himself the Queen wrote, in January 1936, after receiving from him a copy, "May I send you my most grateful thanks for the wonderful book, every word of which is precious to me, and doubly so in this time of anxiety and unrest"; to which the Guardian replied that he felt his efforts in translating it had been fully rewarded as she said she had derived benefit from reading them.

This was followed by the translation in 1936-7 of what might almost be termed a companion volume, comparable in richness and complementary in material, namely, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh. Again we find the Guardian's former professor, Bayard Dodge, writing to him with a shrewd appraisal of what such a work involves: "The translation of deep and poetic thoughts, such as those in the Prayers and Meditations , requires an enormous amount of hard work...I have told you before how much I marvel when I see the quality of English that you use." "When he had received the Gleanings Professor Dodge had written to the Guardian: "You have mastered English in such a remarkable way that I am sure the sayings do not lose their meaning and charm because of translation." And when Shoghi Effendi's translation of The Hidden Words reached him he had written, again with singular insight into what such a work signifies "I realize how exceedingly difficult it is to translate beautiful Oriental thoughts into English and I congratulate you for the quality of the language which you have used."

Immediately after the publication of this diamond-mine of communion with God, unsurpassed in any religious literature of the world, Shoghi Effendi set to work on a longer general letter than he had ever before written, which appeared in 1939 under the title of The Advent of Divine Justice. It was written during the year the Guardian remained in Europe owing to terrorist activities in Palestine, and was addressed to the Bahá'ís throughout the United States and Canada. In it Shoghi Effendi set forth, as never before, the role this Community was destined to play in the unfolding

Page 220

destiny of man on this planet. It defined the objectives of the recently opened Seven Year Plan, the first step in implementing the provisions of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan, and pointed out that upon the success of this greatest joint enterprise ever undertaken by Bahá'u'lláh's followers must depend the fate of all future activities in the promulgation of His world Order throughout the other continents of the globe. With a kind but firm hand Shoghi Effendi held up before the face of the North American Community the mirror of the civilization by which they were surrounded and warned them, in terms that riveted the eye and chilled the heart, against its evils, pointing out to them a truth few of them had ever pondered, namely, that the very evils of that civilization were the mystic reason for their homeland having been chosen by God as the Cradle of His World Order in this day. As the warnings contained in The Advent of Divine Justice are an integral part of the vision and guidance Shoghi Effendi gave tot he faithful throughout his ministry, they cannot be passed over in silence if we are to obtain any correct understanding of his own mission. In no uncertain terms he castigated the moral laxity, political corruption, racial prejudice and corrosive materialism of their society, contrasting it with the exalted standards inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh in His Teachings, and enjoined by Him upon His followers. It warned them of the war so soon to come and admonished them to stand fast, in spite of every trial that might in future afflict them and their nations, and discharge their sacred trust by prosecuting to a triumphal outcome the Plan they had so recently inaugurated throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Another general letter - this time addressed to the body of the Bahá'ís throughout the West - appeared in print in 1941. It was called The Promised Day Is Come and, together with The Advent of Divine Justice , sets forth the root-decay of the present-day world. In it, written during the second year of the war, Shoghi Effendi thunders his denunciations of the perversity and sinfulness of this generation, using as his missiles quotations from the lips of Bahá'u'lláh Himself: "The time for the destruction of the world and its people hath arrived." "The promised day is come, the day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath your feet, saying: 'Taste ye what your hands have wrought!'" "Soon shall the blasts of His chastisement beat upon you, and the dust of hell enshroud you." "And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to

Page 221

quake." "The day is approaching when its (civilization) flame will devour the cities, when the Tongue of Grandeur will proclaim: 'The Kingdom is God's, the Almighty, the All-Praised!'" "The day will soon come, whereon they will cry out for help and receive no answer." "We have fixed a time for you, O people! If ye fail, at the appointed hour, to turn towards God, He, verily, will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous afflictions to assail you from every direction. How severe indeed is the chastisement with which your Lord will then chastise you!" "O ye peoples of the world! Know verily that an unforeseen calamity is following you and that grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not the deeds ye have committee have been blotted from My sight. By My Beauty! All your doings hath My pen graven with open characters upon tablets of chrysolite."

The Guardian paints a terrible, terrifying and majestic picture of the plight to which the human race has been reduced through its steadfast rejection of Bahá'u'lláh. The "world-afflicting ordeal that has laid its grip upon mankind" is, he wrote, "primarily a judgment of God pronounced against the peoples of the earth, who, for a century, have refused to recognized the One Whose advent had been promised to all religions". Shoghi Effendi recapitulates the sufferings, the persecution, the calumny and cruelty to which The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá were subjected and recounts the tale of Their blamelessness, Their patience and fortitude in the face of these trials and Their final weariness with this world as they gathered Their skirts about Them and repaired to the Celestial Realms of Their Creator. Shoghi Effendi enumerates the sins of mankind against these Sinless Ones and points the finger of blame at the leaders of mankind, at its kings, its highest ecclesiastical personages and rulers to whom the twin Manifestations of God had directed the full force of Their Message and because of whose neglect of their supreme duty to pay heed to the Call of God, Bahá'u'lláh Himself stated: "From two ranks amongst men power hath been seized: kings and ecclesiastics."

So fascinating, profuse and vast in subject matter are the writings of Shoghi Effendi that when one starts to even touch upon a book like The Promised Day Is Come one finds one's self wandering away down this great trail of thought he blazed and forgetting that the purpose of these pages is not to review his books but to attempt a review of the many facets of his life and accomplishments. Nevertheless I cannot resist quoting from a letter a very humble Bahá'í wrote to him when this book was published: "The Promised

Page 222

Day has Come is a peach of a book for me, I love it, now all I need is the clear understanding in my heart. Thank you, Shoghi Effendi for your kindness, you can't know how much you did for me... What is it we ever did for your? You did everything for us..."

Between these two so-called general letters - The Advent of Divine Justice and The Promised Day Is Come - Shoghi Effendi gave the western believers his fifth and last book of translations of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, undertaken during the winter of 1939-40, at another of the most difficult and hazardous periods of his life, and mailed to America for publication on the eve of his departure for Europe in the teeth of the European war. The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf was Bahá'u'lláh's last major work and contains a selection from His own Writings made by Himself (surely a unique occurrence in religious history!) during the last two years of His life and has therefore a special position of its own in the literature of our Faith. In a cable shortly prior to its publication Shoghi Effendi said "Devoutly hope its study may contribute further enlightenment deeper understanding verities on which effective prosecution teaching administrative undertakings ultimately depend..."

From an entry in my own diary, dated 22 January 1944, I quote: "Today the very last corrections of Prospect and Retrospect , the last instalment of Shoghi Effendi's book, were made and tomorrow it will be mailed to Horace. It has been almost two years - or maybe it is more! - since the Guardian started. It has meant almost "continuous work for him and been a terrible burden and strain, but it is certainly worth it! It is a marvelous book." With such small recordings are the great events of a life often noted by those who participate in them and arrive, exhausted, at the end, too tired to be anything but trite and circumstantial! Also, at this point too tired to remember that it had actually taken over two years to write what Shoghi Effendi and I referred to as "the book" - it received its beautiful title at the end.

God Passes By , the most brilliant and wondrous tale of a century that has ever been told, is truly a "Mother" of future histories, a book wherein every word counts, every sentence burgeons with thought, every thought leads the way to a field of its own. Packed with salient facts it has the range and precision of snowflake crystals, each design perfect in itself, each theme brilliant in outline, co-ordinated, balanced, self-contained, a matrix for those who follow on and study, evaluate and elaborate the Message and

Page 223

Order of Bahá'u'lláh. It was one of the most concentrated and stupendous achievements of Shoghi Effendi's life, the only true book we have from his pen - because all his other communications were, no doubt due to his profound modesty and humility, in the nature of letters addressed to a specific community or section of the Bahá'í world.

The method of Shoghi Effendi in writing God Passes By was to sit down for a year and read every book of the Bahá'í Writings in Persian and English, and every book written about the Faith by Bahá'ís, whether in manuscript form or published, and everything written by non-Bahá'ís that contained significant references to it. I think, in all, this must have covered the equivalent of at least two hundred books. As he read he made notes and compiled and marshalled his facts. Anyone who has ever tackled a work of an historical nature knows how much research is involved, how often one has to decided, in the light of relevant material, between this date given in one place and that date given in another, how back-breaking the whole work is. How much more so then was such a work for the Guardian who had, at the same time, to prepare for the forthcoming Centenary of the Faith and make decisions regarding the design of the superstructure of The Báb's Shrine. When all the ingredients of his book had been assembled Shoghi Effendi commenced weaving them into the fabric of his picture of the significance of the first century of the Bahá'í Dispensation. It was not his purpose, he said, to write a detailed history of those hundred years, but rather to review the salient features of the birth and rise of the Faith, the establishment of its administrative institutions, and the series of crises which had propelled it forward in a mysterious manner, through the release of the Divine power within it, from victory to victory. He revealed to us the panorama of events which, he wrote, "the revolution of a hundred years...has unrolled before our eyes" and lifted the curtain on the opening acts of what he asserted was one "indivisible, stupendous and sublime drama, whose mystery no intellect can fathom, whose climax no eye can even dimly perceive, whose conclusion no mind can adequately foreshadow."

How many hundreds of hours Shoghi Effendi spent on reading his sources and compiling his notes, how many days and months in painstakingly writing out in long hand - and often rewriting - the majestic procession of his chapters, how many more wearisome days he sat at his small portable typewriter, hammering away with

Page 224

a few fingers, sometimes ten hours on end, as he typed the final copy of his work! And how many more hours we spent late into the night, when the daily typing was over, seated side by side at his bog table in his bedroom, each with three copies of the typescript before us, proof-reading, making corrections, putting in by hand the thousands of accents on transliterated words which Shoghi Effendi would read aloud, until his eyes were bloodshot and blurred, his back and arms stiff with exhaustion, as we worked on to finish the entire chapter or part of a chapter he had typed that day. It had to be done. There was no possibility of working at a slower pace. he was racing against time to present the Bahá'ís of the West with this inimitable gift on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the inception of their Faith. In spite of the fact that he mailed off to America the corrected manuscript in instalments, conditions in the United States delayed the publication and the book was not off the press until the middle of November 1944.

It was not enough to say "See what the man has done." One must ask how and under what circumstances he did it. `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote the Tablets of the Divine Plan when He was old, worn out and in great danger at the end of World War I. Shoghi Effendi, already crushed and overburdened from the weight of twenty years of Guardianship, when the tides of World War II threatened to sweep over the Holy Land and engulf him and the World Centre of the Faith in one catastrophic flow, during a period when his home was convulsed by the repercussions of Covenant-breaking now affecting his family, set himself the task of appraising for all time the significance of the events of the first century of the Bahá'í Era. On rare occasions it was my misfortune during these years to see him weep as if his heart would break - so great was his agony, so overwhelming the pressures that bore down upon him!

Not content with the history he had just completed in English, Shoghi Effendi now turned his thoughts to the loving and loyal Community of Bahá'u'lláh's long-suffering and persecuted followers in His native land and began the composition of another memorial to the first hundred years of the Bahá'í Faith in Persia. This was a comparable, though shorter version of the same subject, different in nature but no less splendid in both the facts it presented the brilliancy of its language. Whereas I had sat through most of his writing of God Passes By in English there was no point in my doing so for this epistle. The difference between the style of Shoghi Effendi's letters and discourse in Persian - liberally

Page 225

sprinkled with Arabic - and every-day Persian is comparable to the difference between Shakespearian English and modern journalese! My command of Persian and ignorance of Arabic were such that I could not catch more than three or four words out of ten. Nevertheless he would read to me, or rather chant to me, some of its passages and the majestic flow of his words, their perfection and power, were evident to me even though I could not fully follow their meaning. I remember how, as I approached his room, I would hear his voice chanting his composition to himself as he wrote, infinitely plaintive, infinitely beautiful. It was also fascinating: he would chant the sentence he was writing until he struck a bump, a word that would not fit smoothly, the lovely voice, unconscious of itself, would stop, then go back to the beginning of the sentence and start off again up to the same point, if he did not get over it that time this would be repeated until he did! It was like some wonderful bird trying out its melodies to itself, lost in its own world. This epistle ran to a hundred pages in fine handwriting and is another of Shoghi Effendi's masterpieces. These two reviews of a hundred years were the Guardian's priceless Centenary gifts to the Bahá'ís, wrought with great cost to his strength and health, and devised during years when the world was rocked by its greatest war.

For the next thirteen years Shoghi Effendi neither translated nor wrote any more books. It is our great loss that he no longer had the time to do so. The international community of the Faith he had been at such pains to build up since 1921 had now reached such proportions that it consumed his time and strength and left little of either for the intensely creative work he was so richly endowed by nature to produce. However, he continued to pour forth his guidance to the believers and their national bodies through letters, and particularly through long cables. By 1941 Shoghi Effendi had already begun to enumerate the victories the Bahá'ís were winning throughout the world. Out of this type of message ultimately developed the thrilling Ridvan reviews of the work accomplished each year, reviews which made the believers see their labours in every country as part of a great whole.

Since the inception of his ministry Shoghi Effendi had increasingly used the medium of telegrams and cablegrams, not only because they saved time but because, as he explained to me, of their psychological effect; a cable conveys a sense of urgency and drama and is often a better way of driving home one's point. Shoghi

Page 226

Effendi developed what one might call the language of cables to such a high degree that they became a literary accomplishment. Not infrequently he sent cables the length of letters. He thought in the abbreviated form when he wrote them. It was not a question of expressing a thought in the normal style of composition and then eliminating all the worlds that could be left out and still convey the meaning; from the beginning he did not think those words into his text at all and thus the style is very graphic, powerful and dramatic. It loses in style - and often in correct meaning - when someone interpolates it with all the "if's" and "and's" and "of's" and "the's" and so on he thinks should be there to make it clear. To insert such interpolations without parentheses is an unwarranted interference in the texts of our Faith, as it means some editor has inserted into Shoghi Effendi's own sentences words that he thinks will clarify what Shoghi Effendi meant; on the other hand to insert anything at all, even in parentheses, seems to imply the reader is a fool and not able to understand for himself what the Guardian meant.

Until the end of his days Shoghi Effendi continued to inspire the Bahá'í world with his instructions and thoughts; words of great power and significance, equal in bulk to a number of volumes, flowed from his pen. But an epoch had ended with the close of the war and the increase in administrative activity all over the world. Although his driving power never left him, and the hours of work he spent on the Cause of god each day never diminished until he passed away, Shoghi Effendi was deeply tired.

The life work of Shoghi Effendi might well be divided into four major aspects: his translations of the Words of Bahá'u'lláh, The Báb, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Nabil's narrative; his own writings such as the history of a century, published as God Passes By , as well as an uninterrupted stream of instructive communications from his pen which pointed out to the believers the significance, the time and the method of the building up of their administrative institutions; an unremitting programme to expand and consolidate the material assets of a world-wide Faith, which not only involved the completion, erection or beautification of the Bahá'í Holy Places at the World Centre but the construction of Houses of Worship and the acquisition of national and local headquarters and endowments in various countries throughout the East and West; and, above all, a masterly orientation of thought towards the concepts enshrined in the teachings of the Faith and the orderly classification

Page 227

of those teachings into what might well be described as a vast panoramic view of the meaning, implications, destiny and purpose of the religion of Bahá'u'lláh, indeed of religious truth itself in its portrayal of man as the apogee of God's creation, evolving towards the consummation of his development - the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Page 228


The development of the World Centre of the Faith under the aegis of the Guardian represents one of the major achievements of his life and can only be compared in importance to the spread and consolidation of the Cause itself throughout the entire globe. Of the unique significance of this Centre Shoghi Effendi wrote that it was: "...the Holy Land - the Qiblih of a world community, the heart from which the energizing influences of a vivifying Faith continually stream, and the seat and centre around which the diversified activities of a divinely appointed Administrative Order revolve".

When in 1921 Shoghi Effendi assumed the responsibilities conferred upon him in the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the Bahá'í holdings in Haifa and Akka consisted of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji, which was situated in a house belonging to the Afnan heirs of the daughter of Bahá'u'lláh, in whose home He had been interred after His ascension; the Shrine of The Báb on Mt Carmel, surrounded by a few plots of land, purchased during the lifetime of `Abdu'l-Bahá, on one of which stood the Oriental Pilgrim House; the house of 'Abbud, where Bahá'u'lláh had resided for many years in Akka and in which He revealed the Kitáb-i-Aqdas ; the Ridvan and adjacent gardens; and the house of `Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa. The Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, adjoining His Shrine, was occupied by the Arch-Covenant-breaker Muhammad 'Ali; and the title to almost all the Bahá'í properties was registered either in the names of various members of the family or in those of a few Bahá'ís. So insecure was the entire legal position of the Faith and its properties that the work Shoghi Effendi accomplished

Page 229

during his ministry in safeguarding and adding to these Holy Places, in extending the lands surrounding them, in registering these lands, in many instances in the names of locally incorporated Palestine Branches of various National Bahá'í Assemblies, and in securing exemption from municipal and national taxes for them, is little short of miraculous. When we remember that his position in 1922 was so precarious that Muhammad 'Ali was emboldened to seize the keys of Bahá'u'lláh's Holy Tomb, that many Muslim and Christian elements, jealous of the universal favour `Abdu'l-Bahá had enjoyed at the end of His life, were only too anxious to discredit His young successor in the eyes of the authorities, and that Shoghi Effendi himself had been immediately overwhelmed by grave problems of every conceivable nature, within and without the Cause, we cannot but marvel anew at the wisdom and statesmanship that characterized his conduct of affairs at the World Centre.

The Heroic Age of the Faith had passed. What Shoghi Effendi termed the Formative Age dawned with his own ministry, and was shaped for all time by him. Fully realizing that neither his own station nor his capacities were the same as those of his beloved Master, Shoghi Effendi refused to imitate Him in any way, in dress, in habits, in manner. To do so would have been, he believed, completely lacking in both judgment and respect. This was to be the era of emancipation of the Faith, of recognition of its independent status, of the establishment of its Order, of the up-building of its institutions. `Abdu'l-Bahá had come to the Hole Land a prisoner and exile; although He could proclaim, during His travels in the West and through His letters, the independent character of the Cause of His Father, locally He could not, at the end of His life, break through the chrysalis of common custom that had bound Him so long to the predominantly Muslim community; to do things ungracefully and hurtfully was no part of the Bahá'í Teachings. But Shoghi Effendi, returning from his studies in England, young, western in training and habit, was now in a position to do this. However much loved and esteemed `Abdu'l-Bahá had been, He was not viewed as the Head of an independent world religion but rather as the say protagonist of a great spiritual philosophy of universal brotherhood, a distinguished notable among other notables in Palestine. By sheer force of personality He had dominated those around Him. But Shoghi Effendi knew he

Page 230

could never do this in the circumstances surrounding him at the outset of his Guardianship, neither had he any desire to do so. His function everywhere - but particularly at the World Centre - was to win recognition of the Cause as a world religion entitled to the same status and prerogatives that other religions, such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism, enjoyed.

From the very beginning he appreciated the fact that if he was to establish the World Centre on a proper basis during the years in which the Bahá'í Faith must inevitably expand abroad, then locally his own position - which was not that of a local or national Head but the World Head of that Faith - must be put on an entirely different footing. Palestine, although it was sacred to these three great World Faiths, was not at one and the same time the spiritual and administrative hear of any one of them, and therefore no one in the country held a comparable position to his own. He, however, because he was the Head of a comparable Faith, and resided at both its spiritual and administrative heart, should enjoy the right of precedence over all other religions Heads in the country. Although Shoghi Effendi, from the outset of his ministry, understood this, he was wise enough to realize he had no hope at that time of winning others over to this view. he displayed his brilliance by not entering into the activities of the Master, and not mingling freely at various social functions, official or otherwise. He well knew that among the local pundits he could not hope to receive the right of precedence his position deserved and that should he be relegated as the Bahá'í representative to a secondary position, owing to his youth and the power the large Muslim community wielded, the situation would crystallize about this precedent and it would be almost impossible later to assume his rightful place as Head of a World Religion. Primarily because of this, for thirty-six years, with one or two exceptions, Shoghi Effendi avoided all government and municipal functions and took no part in social life whatsoever, constantly, albeit tactfully, insisting that he or whomsoever he chose to send in his stead should receive the precedence he deserved; by the end of his life he had practically won this long battle and although the Bahá'í representative was not always accorded the priority Shoghi Effendi desired, he effectively prevented that representative from being allocated a permanently minor position at official functions. On the rare occasions he himself attended state functions in Israel, he received his due as the Head of a World Faith. In view of his constant preoccupation with

Page 231

his work, the repeated crises that rocked him all his life and the demands pilgrims made upon his time, to give up all social life was not deprivation for Shoghi Effendi. But it did add to his isolation and derived him effectively of any intellectual companionship and stimulation he might have derived from meeting men of calibre and significance.

During the first two decades of his ministry, however, Shoghi Effendi had more or less close personal contact with various High Commissioners and District Commissioners and through this he was able to win back the keys of Bahá'u'lláh's Tomb and assert his undisputed right to its custody, to obtain possession of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, to receive permission to bury `Abdu'l-Bahá'í closest relatives in the vicinity of The Báb's Shrine, in the centre of a residential district on Mt Carmel, to have the Bahá'í Marriage Certificate accepted by the Government on the same footing as that of Jews, Christians and Muslims and, above all, through his persistent efforts, to succeed in impressing upon the British authorities the sacred nature of the Bahá'í holdings in Palestine and in winning from them the exemption from taxes, both municipal and national, which he sought.

Bahji was always Shoghi Effendi's first preoccupation and he was determined to safeguard not only the Shrine where Bahá'u'lláh lay buried but the last home He had occupied in this world and the buildings and lands that adjoined it. From the time Bahá'u'lláh passed away in 1892 until 1929 Muhammad 'Ali and his relatives had been in possession of this home, known as the "Qasr", or "Palace", of 'Udi "Khammar, a building unique in Palestine for its majestic style of architecture and which had been purchased for Bahá'u'lláh towards the end of His life. This Mansion was not falling into a serious and pitiful state of disrepair, stained, rainworn, its roof caving in, its once lovely rooms abandoned or used as store rooms. In November 1927 Shoghi Effendi wrote to one of the friends that "The Qasr is still occupied by Muhammad 'Ali and Majdiddin [his cousin] has sent a message requesting us to repair the roof which may collapse at any time. He has been told emphatically that we shall not proceed with any repair unless and until they evacuate the entire building." Eventually it seems the situation of the Mansion reached a point where the Covenant-breakers had no alternative and were forced to comply with Shoghi Effendi's demand. On 27 November 1929, the day before the eighth anniversary of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing, Shoghi Effendi

Page 232

cabled a relative: "...Qasr evacuated. Restoration commenced", and on 5 December he wrote to one of the friends: "...the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, occupied for about forty years by Muhammad 'Ali and his followers, has at last been evacuated and the enclosed photograph will indicate in what a state they have left it! Restorative work has commenced and the pilgrims are already visiting the room where Bahá'u'lláh passed away d where He passed the most peaceful and happiest days of His life." Two years later the work was completed. Shoghi Effendi had had the building renovated and refurbished in all its original beauty. He brought one of the Bahá'ís who had often been there in his youth, and was capable and conscientious, to supervise the work. The roof, the woodwork, the frescoes on the balcony, the intricate stencilled decoration on the walls of all the rooms on the upper floor, the fine wooden-beam ceilings - all were restored to their original state. Having done this Shoghi Effendi proceeded to carpet it with valuable rugs sent by the Bahá'ís in Persia, to hang rare illuminations in the writing of the famous Bahá'í calligraphist, Mishkin Qalam, on its walls, to furnish it with bookcases filled with the translations of Bahá'í literature in many languages, to place innumerable photographs and documents of historic interest in its various rooms and then to invite the British High commissioner to come and see it, he himself accompanying him on this tour of inspection. When all had been viewed Shoghi Effendi asked His Excellency if he did not feel that such a place as this, so sacred in its associations to Bahá'ís the world over, far transcended the right to be considered any individual's private residence and should be preserved as a place of pilgrimage and an historical museum. His Excellency, no doubt as much impressed by the advocate as by the testimony, agreed, and the Mansion remained in Shoghi Effendi's hands. By April 1932 the pilgrims were privileged to sleep overnight in this historic and sacred spot and its doors were opened to non-Bahá'í visitors as well, who wandered through its beautiful rooms and gazed on the impressive array of testimonials to the world-wide nature of the Cause, on the innumerable photostatic copies of Bahá'í Assembly incorporations, marriage licenses and other historical material as well as photographs of the martyrs and pioneers of the Faith.

I remember how, in spite of the fact that Shoghi Effendi had possession of the Mansion, he was constantly irked, until the very end of his life, by the fact that Covenant-breakers still occupied the adjacent house. The night of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, when

Page 233

the Guardian, at the head of the Bahá'í men, would proceed to His Shrine after visiting the room in the Mansion in which He had passed away, he was obliged to pass in front of the room where the Covenant-breakers were keeping their own vigil and often they would make audible comments on him as he passed, adding to the distress of a night that was already distressing enough in it s associations. It was not until June 1957 that he was able to cable the Bahá'í world: "With feelings profound joy exultation thankfulness announce morrow sixty-fifth anniversary Ascension Bahá'u'lláh signal epoch making victory won over ignoble band breakers His Covenant which course over six decades has entrenched itself precincts Most Holy Shrine Bahá'í world".

From the time, in January 1923, when he had written to the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh's daughter requesting him to make a definite pronouncement that whatever the legal rights to these Afnans might be the Shrine at Bahji because of its nature belonged to the Bahá'í Movement, until the end of his life, Shoghi Effendi struggled to place on an unshakable foundation the legal position of this Sacred Spot, in spite of the opposition of that tainted band of relatives who resisted his every effort for over thirty years. It was due to the mysterious workings of Providence that after the War of Independence, through the mass exodus of the Arabs, including many enemies of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi was able to at last emerge triumphant from this long struggle. In 1952 the long-coveted lands surrounding the Tomb and Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, amounting to over 145,000 square metres, were obtained. As early as 1931 Shoghi Effendi had endeavoured to get the government to requisition part of this land - which had originally belonged to the Mansion property but had been usurped by the Muslim friends and supporters of Muhammad 'Ali - but it had refused to intervene and the asking price was over ten times the market value of the land. The Guardian had to wait over twenty years until the fortunes of war brought it back to its rightful owners. In addition to this both the Pilgrim House, which had been under the control of `Abdu'l-Bahá since the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, and a building known as the Tea House of the Master, where He often entertained the believers - including the first group of pilgrims from the West - were acquired by the Guardian during the last years of his life. In 1952 the Government of Israel lifted from the civil court in Haifa a case brought against the Guardian by the Covenant - breakers in connection with the demolition of a house in

Page 234

Bahji, and supported his contention that the issue was a religious one, thus enabling him to emerge once more triumphant in his struggle with the entrenched enemies of `Abdu'l-Bahá who had never relinquished their jealously guarded base near Bahá'u'lláh's Holy Shrine. Finally, in 1957, again through the co-operation of the State authorities, Shoghi Effendi was able to secure an expropriation order, on the grounds of their nearness to a sacred place of pilgrimage, for the houses occupied by what he termed the "wretched remnants" of the Covenant-breakers and thus at long last bring about what he described as the cleansing of the Haram-i-Aqdas of this spiritual defilement. So hotly was this expropriation order, which involved their eviction from Bahji, contested by the Covenant-breakers that they took it before the Supreme Court of Israel, lost their case and were obliged to leave once and for all.

It had been the expressed desire of the Guardian himself to supervise the demolition of these houses that abutted on the Mansion and were right next to the Shrine, but he never returned to the Holy Land. When, in fulfilment of his own plan, they were pulled down, a few months after his passing, it was found that the large formal garden he had made in front of them was so accurately measured out and planned that it could be continued - I am tempted to say rolled out like a carpet - with complete accuracy right over the place where they had stood and up to the very wall of the Mansion.

Ever mindful of what was to him the deepest trust of his Guardianship - to fulfil to the letter in so far as lay within his power every wish and instruction of his beloved Master - Shoghi Effendi's second greatest concern at the World Centre was the Shrine of The Báb. the work connected with this second holiest Shrine of the Bahá'í Faith had two aspects: the completion of the building itself and the protection and preservation of its surroundings. The first involved the construction of three additional rooms as well as a superstructure - an entire building in itself - which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful edifices on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and the second the gradual purchase, during a third of a century, of a great protective belt of land surrounding the Shrine and reaching from the top to the bottom of Mt Carmel. This area of over fifty acres is best discerned at night, as it lies a huge unlighted "V" in the heart of the city, in whose centre seems pinned a golden brooch, the flood-lit Shrine of The Báb, resting majestically on the bosom of the mountain, set off by the velvety

Page 235

black space of its gardens and lands. For thirty-six years Shoghi Effendi devoted himself to the development of this Sacred Spot in the midst of God's Holy Mountain; so impressive, so unique and of such vast proportions was his work there that it seems to me some of his very essence must be incorporated in its stones and soil.

It took more than one hundred years for Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi to finally discharge the sacred trust which The Báb's remains represented for them, a trust which lasted from the day of His martyrdom in 1850 until the final completion of His Shrine in 1953. From the moment when He was apprised of the execution of The Báb until He ascended in 1892 Bahá'u'lláh had watched over that Sacred Dust, supervising its removal from one place of concealment to another. During a visit to Mt Carmel He had pointed out to `Abdu'l-Bahá with His own hand where The Báb's body was to rest forever, instructing Him to purchase this piece of land and bring the hidden remains from Persia and inter them there. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Himself a prisoner, succeeded in having the small wooden box containing the remains of The Báb and His martyred companion conveyed, by caravan and boat, from Persia to Akka. When the first group of western pilgrims visited the prison-city in the winter of 1898-9, this precious casket was already concealed in the Master's home, its presence a carefully guarded secret.

One day 1915, as `Abdu'l-Bahá stood on the steps of His home and looked up at The Báb's Tomb, He remarked to one of His companions: "The sublime Shrine has remained unbuilt. Ten-twenty thousand pounds are required. God willing it will be accomplished. We have carried its construction to this stage." To a pilgrim He had said: "The Shrine of The Báb will be built in the most beautiful and majestic style", and had even gone so far as to order a Turk in Haifa to make him a sketch of how it would appear when completed. But in spite of the clear concept He had of the nature of the Shrine He desired so much to build for the Forerunner of the Faith, the ultimate task was to fall to Shoghi Effendi.

In 1928 he had work started on the excavation of the solid rock of the mountain behind the existing building in order to make place for the three extra, massive, vaulted and high-ceilinged rooms required to complete the ground floor. By 14 February 1929 we find him cabling one of the Afnans: "Work on Maqam started" ("Maqam" was the Persian term used for The Báb's Shrine), and in

Page 236

December of that same year he informs a friend: "the construction of the three additional chambers contiguous to the Shrine on Mt. Carmel will soon be completed and the plan of the Master of having nine chambers as the ground floor of the Mausoleum of The Báb's realized." It is interesting to note that the completion of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í original structure, in itself a major undertaking, and the costly and exacting restoration of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh were undertaken during the same year and took about the same length of time.

In everything Shoghi Effendi did he was guided by that he knew to be the desire of the Master. `Abdu'l-Bahá had succeeded, by 1907, in completing only six of the nine rooms which would compose a square, in the centre of which the body of The Báb would repose, and already during that year meetings were held in the ones facing the sea. In 1909, with His own hands, He had laid the remains of the Martyr-Herald of the Faith away in their final resting-place. the next year He set out on His western journeys, the war ensued and He passed away. He had, however, expressed His concept of the finished structure: it should have an arcade surrounding the original nine rooms He had planned and be surmounted by a dome. The thought of this plan of the Master never left Shoghi Effendi but its realization seemed very indefinite. Where and when would he find the architect to design such a Shrine and the money to build it?

The answer came in a most unexpected way. In 1940 my mother died in Buenos Aires and my father was left entirely alone, as I was his only child. With that kindness of his which was so incomparable Shoghi Effendi said to me one day that now my mother was dead, my father's place was with us. He invited him to join us and in spite of the war, whose arena was rapidly spreading, my father was able to do so. For years any construction work Shoghi Effendi had undertaken on the Bahá'í properties he had carried out with the occasional help of a local architect or an engineer. In addition to the three homes added to The Báb's Shrine, the erection of the large and distinctive monuments over the graves of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í immediate family and the restoration of the Mansion, Shoghi Effendi had built a handsome entrance to the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf, had demolished Dumit's house when he succeeded in purchasing it and used the stones, doors and window frames to construct an annex to the Oriental Pilgrim House and had built a bridge over a street to carry one of the terraces in front of the

Page 237

Shrine. In 1937 my father had designed a few additional rooms to be added to the ones occupied by the Guardian on the roof of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í home. With the exception of such things as these, which had required professional help, Shoghi Effendi invariably worked out for himself the dimensions of stairs and minor entrances he placed in the gardens. I had had no experience myself of such things and I can remember how, when he once wanted to build a more pretentious flight of steps, flanked by two piers, leading to The Báb's Shrine at the end of a new path, we worked for hours on the proportions and I finally made him a paper model to scale which we viewed with considerable misgivings! The finished product, however, was not only interesting but satisfactory. The point is that the Guardian was not a professional and did not wish to spend money unnecessarily on an architect for such small things, which posed a problem for him and consumed his time for nothing. One day, when he came home from the Shrine gardens, he asked me how I thought such and such dimensions for a flight of steps would look. I asked him why, when he had one of Canada's best architects living across the street in the Western Pilgrim House, he did not ask Daddy to work it out for him. I remember he looked at me in surprise and asked if I thought he could. I assured him that for my father it was child's play to design such a thing and he could do it at once. It was not that Shoghi Effendi lacked confidence in him as an architect; he had already sent to him in Montreal photographs of an iron gate he had ordered for the bottom terrace of the Shrine and asked him to incorporate this gate in a design for its completion; indeed, he had liked the plan of my father very much, but could not come to an agreement with the City about the conjuncture of his terrace and the municipal property and so the scheme was never carried out. It was just that it never occurred to him, after years of struggle with such problems alone, that he now had someone who could do these things for hi. This marked the beginning of a beautiful partnership. I have never known two people who had such a perfect sense of proportion as Shoghi Effendi and my father and of the two the Guardian's was the finer.

It seems to me, in looking back on Shoghi Effendi's life, that aside from the great sweep of the Faith, whose victories meant so much to him, Martha Root in one way and Sutherland Maxwell in another brought him more deep personal satisfaction than any other believers. They were very much alike in some ways, saintly

Page 238

and modest souls who adored Shoghi Effendi and gladly gave him the best they had in service and loyalty. Though Martha's services were far more important for the Cause, the talents of Sutherland became a medium through which Shoghi Effendi could express at last with ease the great creative and artistic side of his own nature and this gave him both satisfaction and happiness. Until the end of his life my father designed for him stairs, walls, pillars, lights and various entrances to the gardens on Mt Carmel. In addition to being an experienced architect he drew and painted beautifully and could model and carve anything with his hands. I remember one entrance to the Shrine property, incorporating the ironwork already executed for the above-mentioned, uncompleted last terrace of the Shrine, I brought this design to him. He was sitting in bed and when I handed him the small coloured drawing he gazed at it fixedly in silence and then said "It's not fair!" I was considerably taken aback by this and asked him what he meant. "Why", he said, "no one can resist anything when it looks as beautiful as this!" He not only built the entrance but had the sketch framed and hung on the wall beside his bed.

Having tried my father on various small projects and found him far from wanting, suddenly - I think it was towards the end of 1942 - Shoghi Effendi told him he wished him to make for him a design for the superstructure of the Shrine of The Báb. the Builder had at last been given the vehicle whereby he could realize the plan of `Abdu'l-Bahá.

In looking back upon the months that followed I marvel that Shoghi Effendi, completely absorbed by his work on God Passes By - which he was so pressed for time to complete before the approaching Centenary of the Faith - should have been able to devote any attention to this other major project. At the outset, Shoghi Effendi had given Sutherland only a few brief indications of what was required; he told him that the Shrine must have a dome and an arcade, must be neither purely western nor purely eastern in style and not look like a mosque or a church; he left him free to conceive his own design. The first one he made showed a structure with an arcade and a clerestory section, surmounted by a pyramid-shaped dome, which Shoghi Effendi did not like; he discussed the dome with Sutherland and said he would like it to resemble in shape that of St Peter's in Rome, which he considered the most beautiful dome in the world. If God had provided Shoghi

Page 239

Effendi with an architect He had also in His infinite mercy bestowed upon that architect not only an incalculable spiritual blessing but an opportunity rare in the life an any professional man - the chance to pour out the mature wine of his talent and life-long experience in a worthy expression of his genius. The second drawing my father made Shoghi Effendi considered too European in emphasis - though he was satisfied with its proportions - and asked my father to change it. My father was delighted by this suggestion and reverted to the style of dome he had used in his design for the American Bahá'í Temple which he had entered in the original competition for that building, and which showed a marked Indian influence in some of its details. This last design greatly pleased the Guardian with the exception of the treatment of the upper part of the clerestory which he felt needed some height at the eight corners. For weeks and weeks Sutherland submitted to him sketch after sketch until the present highly original minarets were approved by him on 25 December 1943. His suggestions had also influenced the four corners of the arcade, which he felt needed to be more pointed and which were accordingly modified. Although Shoghi Effendi liked very much the design in its final form, as shown in the coloured elevation my father had drawn, he said he wished to have a scale model made before reaching a final decision on a subject of such tremendous importance as in that way he could better visualize the structure as it would appear when built; should this meet with his approval he planned to officially unveil it on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of The Báb during the Centenary festivities that were to be held in Haifa.

It was extremely difficult in those days to find anyone capable of executing such a model and though nominally someone undertook to do the work, in practice most of it devolved on my father himself, who was extremely pressed for time to get it completed. In May the model was delivered. After carefully studying it, Shoghi Effendi came to his decision and on 22 May the press was informed that the design for the completed Shrine of The Báb had been chosen and would be built as soon as circumstances permitted. In the Oriental Bahá'í Pilgrim House, during the afternoon meeting on 23 May when the Bahá'í men were gathered in the presence of the Guardian - including many visitors from neighbouring countries - to commemorate the dawn of their Faith a hundred years earlier, Shoghi Effendi had the model brought out and placed on a table for all to see. Two days later he cabled America:

Page 240

"...Announce friends joyful tidings hundredth anniversary Declaration Mission Martyred Herald Faith signalized by historic decision complete structure His sepulchre erected by `Abdu'l-Bahá site chosen by Bahá'u'lláh. Recently designed model dome unveiled presence assembled believers. Praying early removal obstacles consummation stupendous Plan conceived by Founder Faith and hopes cherished Centre His Covenant."

When this announcement was made the world was approaching the end of the most terrible war in history; the Bahá'ís of the Western hemisphere had strained themselves to the utmost in order to win the goals of their first Seven Year Plan; the believers were affected by the general economic depletion prevailing in most countries. It was no doubt because of this, and because the Guardian made no effort to inaugurate a Shrine fund, that his project slipped relatively noiselessly into existence and no more was heard of it until on 11 April 1946 Shoghi Effendi instructed Mr Maxwell to set plans in motion for building the first unit of the Shrine and later himself wrote to the municipal authorities:

Haifa Dec. 7th, 1947.

Haifa Local Building and Town Planning Commission.

To the Chairman
Dear Sir:

In connection with the accompanying drawings and application for permission to build, I wish to add a word of explanation.

The Tomb of The Báb, and of `Abdu'l-Bahá, so well known to the people of Haifa as 'Abbas Effendi, is already in existence on Mt. Carmel in an incomplete form. In its present state, in spite of the extensive gardens surrounding it, it is a homely building with a fortress-like appearance.

It is my intention to now begin the completion of this building by preserving the original structure and at the same time embellishing it with a monumental building of great beauty, thus adding to the general improvement in the appearance of the slopes of Mt. Carmel.

The purpose of this building will, when completed remain the same as at present. In other words it will be used exclusively as a Shrine entombing the remains of The Báb.

As you will see from the accompanying drawings the completed structure will comprise an arcade of twenty four marble or other monolith columns surmounted by an ornamental balustrade, on the first floor or ground floor of the building. It is this part of the building that we wish to begin work on at once, leaving the intermediary section

Page 241

and the dome, which will surmount the whole edifice when completed, to be carried on in the future, if possible at an early date after the completion of the ground floor arcade.

The Architect of this monument building is Mr. W.S. Maxwell, F.R.I.B.A., F.R.A.I.C., R.C.A., the well-known Canadian architect, whose firm built the Chateau Frontenac Hotel in Quebec, the House of Parliament in Regina, the Art Gallery, Church of the Messiah, various Bank buildings, etc., in Montreal. I feel the beauty of his design for the completion of The Báb's Tomb will add greatly to to appearance of our city and be an added attraction for visitors.

Yours truly,
Shoghi Rabbani

I have quoted this letter in full as it demonstrates the masterly, tactful and clear manner in which Shoghi Effendi dealt with the authorities and which secured for him the necessary permission to build. On 15 December Shoghi Effendi cabled America: "Happy announce completion of plans and specifications for erection of arcade surrounding The Báb's Sepulchre constituting first step in process destined to culminate in construction of the Dome anticipated by `Abdu'l-Bahá and marking consummation of enterprise initiated by Him fifty years ago according to instructions given Him by Bahá'u'lláh."

The first historic steps had been taken but the obstacles in the way of the realization of this plan grew to what seemed insurmountable proportions. The British Mandate was nearing its end; Palestine was rocked by civil strife and was soon to be engulfed in a local war. Inquiries showed that the quarries from which suitable stone could be procured for the Shrine locally lay so near the Lebanese frontier that the owners could give no idea of when they could start deliveries. In addition to this the tremendous amount of carved material on the building would require a corps of expert workers and such labour was practically unavailable in the country. In view of this Shoghi Effendi came to another decision which was typical of his practical and audacious mind: he would see if part of the work could be done in Italy.

It is impossible to go into all the details, so fascinating in every way, that comprise the saga of the building of the Shrine. A letter, dated 6 April 1948, which I wrote on behalf of the Guardian to Dr Ugo Giachery conveys very clearly the situation at that time: "... Mr. Maxwell...because of various difficulties...has not been able to place any contracts for the actual work to be carried out here

Page 242

in Palestine. However, he has been in touch with an Italian firm in Carrara about placing contracts for the granite columns which will surround the building on the first floor. he is now proceeding to Italy primarily to place the contract for these, and, if suitable stone, matching the Palestinian stone which will be used here can be found, to also place additional contracts for the capitals and certain pieces of the carved ornamentation...Mr. Benjamin Weeden... will accompany Mr. Maxwell to both take care of him and facilitate in expediting the work there...As conditions in this country are extremely disturbed and the immediate future most uncertain, the Guardian is very anxious to have the contracts placed in Italy as soon as possible and have Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Weeden return here before they might possibly be cut off from us temporarily. He would therefore greatly appreciate your giving as much time as you can to assisting them, translating for them and seeing that they are in touch with reliable Italian firms and dealt with fairly...Unfortunately, owing to the fact that practically all communication with Jerusalem is cut off...Mr. Weeden was not able to contact the Italian Consulate there and obtain his visa. he will, if you and he cannot arrange for a visa in Rome when his plane comes in, have to go on with the same place to Geneva...and return to join Mr. Mr. Maxwell is now 74, though in the best of health, we hope you will take good care of him...Things are so acute here that it is extremely important that they get through with their business and return to Palestine..."

On the 15th of that same month I wrote, on behalf of the Guardian, to Horace Holley, Secretary of the American national Assembly, informing him of this trip to Italy in detail and explaining that as funds of the Guardian were blocked in Palestine because of strict currency regulations "He therefore has in mind asking the friends, those in a position financially to do so, to raise a loan in order to place these contracts...he himself wishes to be considered the guarantor in this matter and will repay the loan at the earliest possible moment. He is very anxious to have no misunderstanding on this point. He is financing this work from the international funds of the Cause and will only consider an arrangement by which he will repay this temporary loan...As our situation here is so uncertain that any day we may find mail and even cables suspended temporarily he is hastening to get this information off to you...if suitable arrangements can be made and contracts signed Mr. Giachery will have to act as representative in this matter,

Page 243

receiving the sums from the States which you will send, keeping an eye on the work in Italy, and generally assuming responsibility there if we all get cut off from each other...He has urged Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Weeden to be back here in Palestine in three weeks if possible as he is afraid that we might be entirely cut off from them...It is wonderful to know that the actual work on the Shrine is now so far advanced as to see the possibility of building operations being begun some time soon. But tremendous obstacles must be overcome, and, he feels confident, will be overcome."

In such a storm yet another step in the unbelievably troubled history of The Báb's remains and the building of His Tomb was undertaken. It was not yet reassuring, the following day, 16 April, to see my father and Mr Weeden off in a taxi entirely covered with armour-plate, a slit half an inch wide providing the visibility for the driver. Until they cabled from Italy we had no idea of what their fate had been. Half-way to the airport they had been forced to descend from the taxi and walk some hundreds of metres, carrying their heavy suitcases, to reach another taxi, a wholly unnecessary hardship typical of what the people of the country had to pass through in those days. Theirs was one of the last planes out of Lydda Airport before it was stormed and taken and all plane services suspended for some time. During their absence the War of Independence was fought and the country lapsed into the uneasy days of an armed truce.

During 1948 Shoghi Effendi himself undertook - for the second time in twenty years - the excavation of rock behind the Shrine in order to enlarge the area sufficiently to enable the arcade to be built. This was a tremendous work, involving the removal of hundreds of square metres of stone. The ingenuity of the Guardian was continually displayed as this work proceeded: he had a second-hand set of rails and a cart purchased, laid down on the path which ran parallel with the Shrine and in front of it, and the excavated material, directed down wooden chutes, carted off to the easternmost point of the terrace and dumped as fill for the extension of the terrace itself. From early morning until dark, often more than eight hours of his feet, day after day and month after month he directed the work. It was certainly not his work to do this, but he was determined to ensure it was done not only quickly, but economically, and there was no one else with the will power and stamina it required to take his place. It was in ways such as this, with indefatigable determination and unflagging perseverance,

Page 244

that Shoghi Effendi made of the Holy Places at the World Centre what we see before us today.

I have a note in my dairy dated Tuesday, 24 February 1949 which reads: "Sunday M" [the contractor] starts on the southeastern and western corners foundations. A week later on the placing of the threshold stones - so the work is going to really start at last." The long months of the Guardian's toil were at an end; the edifice could now rise! Relentlessly Shoghi Effendi built the Shrine which he said was "the consummation of Bahá'u'lláh's irresistible Purpose of erecting a lasting and befitting memorial to Hid Divine Herald and Co-Founder of His Faith." He not only built it, he dramatized it until it became a living experience for all Bahá'ís, a project to which their hearts, as well as the Guardian's heart, were linked. He made thrilling the commonplace work of erecting a building. When he would announce the arrival of a new shipment of stones from Italy, and give the number of tons received, or report the erection of a new unit, or inform us that the dome had two hundred and fifty square metres of surface, or describe the beauty of some detail, his magic of words and the enthusiasm they reflected swept us away on tides of joy and raised us out of ourselves, making us feel we were co-sharers in something infinitely great and thrilling, so that what would have normally been a dull fact in a dull world reported to dull people fired our imaginations and identified us more deeply with our Faith. Small wonder that the believers, preoccupied with their national affairs in the post-war world, rallied round him and assisted him to complete, in five years, in three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar, truly "world-wide enterprise".

Originally Shoghi Effendi had contemplated the possibility of erecting only the arcade of the Shrine and leaving the actual superstructure for a later date, but the remarkable response of the Bahá'ís all over the world in rallying to support this sacred edifice, the general worsening of the international situation, economic trends leading to increased costs and the fact that the same highly efficient and skilled labourers who had executed the work on the arcade so perfectly were still available at the company which had contracted for the stonework in Italy decided him to go on uninterruptedly with its construction.

Such an undertaking, lasting over so many years, was time-consuming and fraught with many heart-aches and difficulties. Negotiations with the supervising engineer and the contractor -

Page 245

at all of which I represented the Guardian - were frequently exceedingly difficult as no one could either mislead or cheat Shoghi Effendi; whenever an estimate quoted was too high he flatly refused it and even stated on one occasion he would stop work on the Shrine indefinitely as he had no intention of paying what he felt was an exorbitant price. He battled his way through every obstacle and I often found, to my great surprise, that I was his sword! Not only was all the stonework imported from Italy but for a time even the cement and steel had to be procured from there owing to acute local shortages, and this also was a source of endless complications and worry.

In addition to problems of this nature there was another that preoccupied him for a long time, and even caused him to delay the construction of the actual superstructure of the Shrine, for it must be remembered that the arcade merely embraces the original building and is not built on it. In order to build the remainder of the Shrine eight reinforced concrete piers had to be sunk through eight of its interior walls to reach bed-rock. This was a source of great concern to the Guardian because the exact dimensions of the chamber in which `Abdu'l-Bahá'í remains are interred are not known and there was a very real danger that in going down through one of the walls they might break into the tomb itself. I learned more about what reverence, dignity and sanctity really imply through the Guardian's attitude towards this problem than in the entire rest of my life. Shoghi Effendi said if we broke into the vault the body of the Master would have to be removed. To me this seemed very simple; He would just be removed temporarily to somewhere else. How wonderfully Shoghi Effendi spoke then! I wish I could remember his exact words. He said the remains of the Master could never be treated so unceremoniously. They must be befittingly removed, with great ceremony, and laid befittingly in some other place and then with equal reverence be re-interred. Where would he find, Shoghi Effendi asked, the people to be present on such solemn and sacred occasions, with a lukewarm local community, composed mostly of servants, and all the doors to neighbouring countries closed? And above all where would he find a suitable place for the sacred remains of `Abdu'l-Bahá to rest temporarily pending the completion of the work in the interior of His Shrine? His very voice breathed awe. I understood a great deal more about religion after that event. Finally, after my father and the engineer had exhaustively percussed the floors and walls a

Page 246

number of times, and old Bahá'ís present at the funeral of the Master had given their recollection of where the vault was, it seemed most unlikely that any of the piers, set as near the outer walls as possible, would break into the actual tomb, and so the work was begun.

In March 1952 Sutherland Maxwell died after two years of illness. Though his death could not impair the fulfilment of the design he had conceived for the Shrine, it deprived the dome section of the benefit of large-scale drawings made by him and hence of that blush of ultra-perfection which his own detailed treatment of his work always produced. In recognition of the services which both he and Dr Giachery had rendered the Shrine of The Báb, Shoghi Effendi called the two as yet unnamed doors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í original building after them, and at a later date the door to the octagon after Mr Ioas, who supervised the construction of the drum and dome.

When the Shrine he had erected with so much love and care was completed, Shoghi Effendi, recognizing in it an essentially feminine quality of beauty and purity, called it the "Queen of Carmel". He described it as "enthroned on God's Holy Mountain, crowned with glowing gold, robed in shimmering white and girdled with emerald green, a sight enchanting every eye, whether viewed from the air, the sea, the plain or the hill." Of the innumerable passages in which Shoghi Effendi extolled and explained the profound spiritual significance of this Spot none is more striking and more powerful than that in which he visualizes the remains of the Martyr-Herald of the Faith as the centre of a spiritual vortex. The Báb, Whom Bahá'u'lláh Himself had described as "The Point round Whom the realities of the Prophets and Messengers revolve " in the realm of the spirit, is, Shoghi Effendi said, in the Sacred Dust of His physical form left upon earth, the heart and centre of nine concentric circles: the outermost of these circles is the planet itself; inside this lies the Most Holy Land, described by `Abdu'l-Bahá as "the Nest of the Prophets "; inside this Nest is the Mountain of God, the Vineyard of the Lord, the Retreat of Elijah Whose Return The Báb Himself symbolized; contained on this Mountain are the sacred precincts, the international endowment-lands of the Faith; it is their gardens and terraces which constitute the Most Holy Court; within this Court, standing in all its exquisite beauty, is the Mausoleum of The Báb, the Shell; within this Shell is the Pearl of Great Price, the Holy of Holies, the original Tomb built

Page 247

by the Master Himself; preserved inside this Holy of Holies is the Vault or Tabernacle, the central chamber of the Shrine; within this Vault is the alabaster Sarcophagus, the Most Holy Casket "in which", Shoghi Effendi wrote, "is deposited that inestimable Jewel, The Báb's Holy Dust."

The Shrine, Shoghi Effendi said, was an "institution" and too much emphasis could not be laid on the role which this institution was destined to play in the "unfoldment of the World Administrative Centre of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and in the efflorescence of its highest institutions constituting the embryo of its future World Order." As the superstructure rose in all its majesty Shoghi Effendi revealed more and more of the true significance of the Shrine; it was, he wrote, not only the first and most holy edifice reared at the World Centre of the Faith but was "the initial international institution heralding the establishment of the Supreme Legislative Body of the World Administrative Centre..."

Bahá'u'lláh's Dust, the "Point of Adoration" or "Qiblih" of the faithful, was too sacred in its essence, His station too infinitely exalted, to act as the spiritual dynamo galvanizing the institutions of His World Order. The Dust of The Báb, however - Who had described His own station in relation to Bahá'u'lláh as that of "a ring upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest ," Who "turneth it as He pleaseth, for whatsoever He pleaseth, and through whatsoever He pleaseth " - had been chosen by Bahá'u'lláh Himself to be the Centre around which His Administrative Institutions would cluster and under Whose shadow they would function through His act in choosing the site on Mt Carmel where The Báb's remains were to rest and instructing `Abdu'l-Bahá to purchase that spot and bring the remains from Persia and inter them there. We must remember that long before the declaration by Bahá'u'lláh of His station, it was The Báb Who raised the clarion call of the "New Order". What then more appropriate and significant than the choice of His remains for this purpose? Shoghi Effendi made this distinction clear when he referred to the twin nature of so many buildings at the World Centre, the Twin Shrines, the Twin Administrative and Spiritual Centres of the Faith.

There can be little doubt that upon reading the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá Shoghi Effendi's first thought was the speedy establishment of the Supreme Administrative Body of the Bahá'í Faith, the Universal House of Justice. One of his earliest acts, in 1922, had been to summon to Haifa old and key believers to

Page 248

discuss this matter with him. He repeatedly mentioned it in his communications - indeed in his first letter to Persia, written on 16 January 1922, he refers to it and states that he will announce to the friends later the preliminary arrangements for its election. There was never any question in his mind as to its function and significance; in March 1923 he had described it as "that Supreme Council that will guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement throughout the world". There can be not doubt that two forces were at work in the Guardian in those first days of his ministry; one was his youthful eagerness to speedily carry out all the instructions of his beloved Master, which included the establishment of the Universal House of Justice; and the other was the Divine guidance and protection promised him in the Will; the latter modified the former. Over and over again Shoghi Effendi essayed to put in motion at least the preliminaries for electing this Supreme Body - and over and over again the Hand of Providence manipulated events in such a way that premature action became impossible. At the consultations he held in 1922 it must have suddenly become apparent to him that however highly desirable even a preliminary stage in the formation of the Universal House of Justice might be, it was dangerous to take such a step at that time. The firm administrative foundation required to elect and support it was lacking as well as a sufficient reservoir of qualified and well-informed believers to draw from.

Having discovered that the door to the formation of the Universal House of Justice was not open, Shoghi Effendi set about trying to establish at least the preliminary forms that might precede its election. When he sought, in the first years of his ministry, to draw to Haifa people who would assist him in his work he had in mind the formation of a definite body at the World Centre. This is borne out by his own words. On 30 August 1926 he wrote to one of the Bahá'ís: "I am anxiously considering ways and means for the formation of some sort of efficient, competent Secretariat in Haifa...I have thought of it a great deal and I am still exploring and searching for a competent, reliable, methodical, and trained associate who, untrammeled and unhampered, can devote...continuous months to such a delicate and responsible task. When this is achieved I cherished the brightest hopes for the strengthening of the vital bonds that bind the Centre in Haifa with all the Assemblies in the Bahá'í world." On 7 December of that same year he informed a relative that two of the prominent Bahá'ís had joined him

Page 249

in Haifa and "we hope to form some sort of international Bahá'í Secretariat..." However, the true significance this Secretariat had in the mind of Shoghi Effendi is clearly stated in a letter of his, written two weeks later, in which he introduced these same two Bahá'ís to Mr Abramson, the Commissioner for the Northern District of Palestine, and, after mentioning their names, wrote that these "two representative Bahá'ís...I have asked to come here to consider with me and with other Bahá'ís from the East the formation of an International Bahá'í Secretariat as a preliminary step to the establishment of the International Bahá'í Council."

From an Indian pilgrim's notes in a letter to a friend, written in Haifa on 15 June 1929, we find the following: "Shoghi Effendi long as the various National Assemblies do not have stabilized, well organized positions, it would be impossible to establish even an information House of Justice. He wants us to at once draw up a constitution of the National Assembly on the lines of the American Trust and get it registered with the Government of India, if possible as a religious body, otherwise as a commercial body...Shoghi Effendi has urged in his recent letters to Eastern countries to have National Assemblies recognized as Religious Courts of Justice by local Governments..."

It is of interest to note that in a letter to Mrs Stannard, who was in charge of the International Bahá'í Bureau in Geneva - an office designed to promote in Europe the affairs of the Faith as well as to stimulate its international functions throughout the world and which was constantly encouraged and directed by the Guardian in its work - Shoghi Effendi writes, in August 1926, that he wishes the Bahá'í Bulletin it publishes to be "in the three dominant languages in Europe i.e. English, French and German...I have expressed in my cable to you my readiness to extend regular and financial assistance to you in order to ensure that the proposed circular will be published in the three recognized official languages of the western section of the Bahá'í world...Your Centre in Switzerland and the Bahá'í Esperanto Magazine published at Hamburg are both destined to shoulder some of the functions and responsibilities which will in future be undertaken by the International Bahá'í Assembly when formed."

In many such references, particularly in the first ten years of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi reveals that he is constantly anticipating the formation of some kind of International Secretariat or Council pending the election of the Universal House of Justice itself, the

Page 250

functions, significance and importance of which were growing in his mind. Some time during the summer of 1929 the Guardian conceived the idea of the Bahá'ís holding an International Conference, at which the friends would informally gather to discuss ways and means of hastening the formation of oriental National Bahá'í Assemblies as well as the subject of the Administration in general as he was developing it, and thus hasten the day when the House of Justice could be elected as envisaged by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Some of the old Bahá'ís had a different concept of what should take place at this conference, wishing to see some form of interim body elected. When Shoghi Effendi became apprised of this fact he immediately cabled on 12 December 1929 to two of the men most concerned in arranging this conference and peremptorily cancelled it as he said it would be "a source of confusion, misunderstanding and even controversy". He recoiled before the great danger he foresaw of immature people, not yet steeped in understanding of the Administrative Order he was unfolding and building, assuming a rank and power they were certainly incapable of safely holding. For over twenty years the whole idea was left in abeyance and the repeated mention of the formation of the Universal House of Justice, which is to be found in Shoghi Effendi's earlier letters, ceased until he created an International Council, composed of members he himself nominated. There is no doubt in my mind, from things he told me at different times, that in the opening years of his Guardianship he sensed from certain prominent believers a desire to be on a body such as the House of Justice or some interim institution, and that he felt a belittling of his judgment and capacity of their part and a trend to seize the reins of the Cause of God; these were men old enough to be his father, who, whatever their thoughts about the Master's Will, looked upon him in some ways as an inexperienced young man.

From the very beginning Shoghi Effendi concentrated on multiplying and strengthening the "various Assemblies, local and National". As early as 1924, he stated they constituted "the bedrock upon the strength of which the Universal House is in future to be firmly established and raised." Almost invariably, in later years, when he called for the formation of new national bodies, the Guardian used phrases such as the following in his cable to the Fourth European Teaching Conference in 1951: "...Future edifice Universal House of Justice depending for its stability on sustaining strength pillars erected diversified communities East West,

Page 251

destined derive added power through emergence three National Assemblies...awaits rise establishment similar institutions European mainland..." In anticipation of the election of that august Body Shoghi Effendi made statements that, added to the words of its Founder, Bahá'u'lláh, and the clear and unmistakable powers and prerogatives conferred upon it by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament , cannot but buttress the strength and facilitate the tasks of the Universal House for at least a thousand years. Shoghi Effendi said the Universal House of Justice would be the "nucleus and forerunner" of the New World Order; he said "that future House" was a House "posterity will regard as the last refuge of a tottering civilization"; it would be "the last unit crowning the structure of the embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh"; it was "the highest legislative body in the administrative hierarchy of the Faith: and its "supreme elective institution". The Guardian stated: "To the Trustees of the House of Justice" Bahá'u'lláh "assigns the duty of legislating on matters not expressly provided in His Writings, and promises that God will 'inspire them with whatsoever He willeth.'" and wrote that "...the powers and prerogatives of the Universal House of Justice, possessing the exclusive right to legislate on matters not explicitly revealed in the Most Holy Book; the ordinance exempting its members from any responsibility to those whom they represent, and from the obligation to conform to their views, convictions or sentiments; the specific provisions requiring the free and democratic election by the mass of the faithful of the Body that constitutes the sole legislative organ in the world-wide Bahá'í Community - these are among the features which combine to set apart the Order identified with the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh from any of the existing systems of human government."

Quite suddenly, one day in Switzerland in November 1950, at the time when my father had, as Shoghi Effendi announced, "miraculously" recovered from a severe illness, the Guardian sat down and, to my great astonishment, sent cables inviting the first of that group who later became members of the International Bahá'í Council to come to Haifa. Like almost everything he did, first it began to dawn and later the sun of the finished concept rose above the horizon. After our return to the Holy Land, when Lotfullah Hakim (the first to arrive), Jessie and Ethel Revell, followed by Amelia Collins and Mason Remey were all gathered at table one day in the Western Pilgrim House, with Gladys Weeden and her

Page 252

husband Ben who were already living there, the Guardian announced to us his intention of constituting, out of that group, an International Council, we were all overcome by the unprecedented nature of this step he was taking and the infinite bounty it conferred upon those present as well as the entire Bahá'í world. It was not, however, until 9 January 1951 that he released this news through an historic cable: "Proclaim National Assemblies East West weighty epoch making decision formation first International Bahá'í Council forerunner supreme administrative institution destined emerge fullness time within precincts beneath shadow World Spiritual Centre Faith already established twin cities 'Akka Haifa."

The fulfilment of the prophecies of both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, through the establishment of an independent Jewish State after the lapse of two thousand years, the unfoldment of the portentous historic undertaking associated with the construction of the superstructure of The Báb's Shrine, the now adequate maturity of the nine vigorously functioning National Assemblies, had all combined to induce him to make this historic decision, which was the most significant milestone in the evolution of the Administrative Order during thirty years. In that cable Shoghi Effendi went on to say that this new institution had a three-fold function: to forge links with the authorities in the newly emerged State, to assist him in building the Shrine (only the arcade of which had then been completed), and to conduct negotiations with the civil authorities as regards matters of personal status. Further functions would be added as this first "embryonic International Institution: developed into an officially recognized Bahá'í Court, was transformed into an elected body and reached its final efflorescence in the Universal House of Justice; this in turn would find its fruition in the erection of many auxiliary institutions, constituting the World Administrative Centre. This message, so thrilling in portent, burst upon the Bahá'í world like a clap of thunder. Like a skilled engineer, locking the component parts of his machine together, Bahá'í had now buckled into place the frame that would eventually support the crowning unit - the Universal House of Justice.

Fourteen months later, on 8 March 1952, Shoghi Effendi, in a long cable to the Bahá'í world, announced the enlargement of the International Bahá'í Council: "Present membership now comprises Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih chosen liaison between me and Council. Hands Cause Mason Remey, Amelia Collins, Ugo

Page 253

Giachery, Leroy Ioas, President, Vice-President, Member-at- Large, Secretary-General respectively. Jessie Revell, Ethel Revell, Lotfullah Hakim, Treasurer, Western and Eastern Assistant Secretaries." The original membership had been changed through the departure of Mr and Mrs Weeden, for reasons of health, the arrival of Mr Ioas, who had offered his services to the Guardian, and the inclusion of Dr Giachery, who continued to reside in Italy and supervise the construction of the Shrine - every single stone of which was quarried, cut and carved in that country and then shipped to Haifa and the golden tiles of whose dome were ordered in Holland - and to act as the agent of Shoghi Effendi in ordering and purchasing many other things required in the Holy Land. In May 1955 the Guardian announced that he had raised the number of members of the International Bahá'í Council to nine through the appointment of Sylvia Ioas. In its functions the International Bahá'í Council acted as that Secretariat the Guardian, so many years earlier, had desired to establish; its members received their instructions from him individually, in the informal atmosphere of the dinners at the Pilgrim House table, and not formally as a body; its meetings were infrequent as all its members were kept constantly busy with the many tasks allotted to them by the Guardian himself. Skilfully Shoghi Effendi used this new institution to create in the minds of government and city officials the image of a body of an international character handling the administrative affairs at the World Centre. It was no concern of the public how much or how little that body had authority; we who were on it knew Shoghi Effendi was everything; the public, however, began to see an image which could evolve later into the Universal House of Justice.

Between the first and second messages Shoghi Effendi sent informing the Bahá'í world of the formation and membership of the International Bahá'í Council, he took another fundamental step in the historic development of the World Centre of the Faith through the official announcement of the appointment, on 24 December 1951, of the first contingent of the Hands of the Cause of God, twelve in number, and equally allocated between the Holy Land, the Asiatic, American and European continents. The people raised by the Guardian at that time to this illustrious rank were Sutherland Maxwell, Mason Remey and Amelia Collins who became Hands of the Cause of God in the Holy Land; Valiyu'llah Varqa, Tarazu'llah Samandari and 'Ali-Akbar Furutan in Asia; Horace

Page 254

Holley, Dorothy Baker and Leroy Ioas in America; George Townshend, Hermann Grossmann and Ugo Giachery in Europe. Two months later, on 29 February 1952, Shoghi Effendi announced to the friends in the East and West that he had raised the number of the Hands of the Cause of God to nineteen through nominating Fred Schopflocher in Canada, Corinne True in the United States, Zikrullah Khadem and Shuaullah Alai in Persia, Adelbert Muhlschlegel in Germany, Musa Banani in Africa and Clara Dunn in Australia. In making these two appointments of Hands of the Cause Shoghi Effendi said that the hour was now ripe for him to take this step in accordance with the provisions of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Testament and that it was paralleled by the preliminary measure of the formation of the International Bahá'í Council, destined to culminate in the emergence of the Universal House of Justice. He announced that the august body of the Hands was invested, in conformity with `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Testament, with the two-fold sacred function of the propagation of the Faith and the preservation of its unity.

In Shoghi Effendi's last message to the Bahá'í world, dated October 1957, he announced he had designated "yet another contingent of the Hands of the Cause of God...The eight now elevated to this exalted rank are: Enoch Olinga, William Sears and John Robarts, in West and South Africa; Hasan Balyuzi and John Ferraby in the British Isles; Collis Featherstone and Rahmatullah Muhajir, in the Pacific area; and Abul-Qasim Faizi in the Arabian Peninsula - a group chosen from four continents of the globe, and representing the Afnan, as well as the black and white races and whose members are derived from Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Pagan backgrounds."

The Guardian, in a two-month period in 1952, created a body of one Vahid (nineteen) of Hands of the Cause and he kept them at this number until 1957, when he added eight more, thus bringing them to three multiples of nine. Whenever one of the original nineteen passed away, Shoghi Effendi appointed another Hand. Two of the Hands thus appointed were raised to the position occupied by their fathers, thus the "mantle" of my father fell on my shoulders, on 26 March 1952, after the death of Sutherland Maxwell; and Ali Muhammad Varqa was appointed to succeed his father on 15 November 1955 and also became the Trustee of the Huqúq in his place. After Dorothy Baker was killed in an accident, Paul Haney was made a Hand of the Cause on 19 March 1954 and following

Page 255

the passing of Fred Schopflocher, Jalal Khazeh was elevated to the same rank on 7 December 1953; not long after George Townshend's death the Guardian appointed Agnes Alexander on 27 March 1957; thus the number of nineteen was maintained by him until the third contingent of Hands was nominated in his last great message at the midway point of the World Crusade.

Between 9 January 1951 and 8 March 1952, remarkable and far-reaching changes took place in the Administrative Order of the Faith at its World Centre, changes which, Shoghi Effendi wrote, at long last signified the erection of "the machinery of its highest institutions", "the supreme Organs of its unfolding Order" which were now, in their "embryonic form" developing around the Holy Shrines. In his writings he had pointed out to the believers that the progress and unfoldment of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order was guided by the directives and the spiritual powers released through three mighty "charters", which he said had set in motion three distinct processes, the first given to us by Bahá'u'lláh Himself in the Tablet of Carmel , and the other two from the pen of the Master, namely, His Will and Testament and His Tablets of the Divine Plan. The first operated "in a land which", Shoghi Effendi stated, "geographically, spiritually and administratively, constitutes the heart of the entire planet", "the Holy Land, the Centre and Pivot round which the divinely appointed, fast multiplying institutions of a world-encircling, relentlessly marching Faith revolve", "the Holy Land, the Qiblih of a world community, the heart from which the energizing influences of a vivifying Faith continually stream, and the seat and centre around which the diversified activities of a divinely appointed Administrative Order revolve". The hub of this Tablet of Carmel was those words of Bahá'u'lláh that "ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee and will manifest the people of Bahá who have been mentioned in the Book of Names "; the "people of Bahá ", Shoghi Effendi explained, signified the members of the Universal House of Justice.

Whereas the Charter of the Will and Testament of the Master operated throughout the world through the erection of those administrative institutions He had so clearly defined in it, and the Charter of His Tablets of the Divine Plan was concerned with the spiritual conquest of the entire planet through the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and likewise had the globe itself as its theatre of operations, the Tablet of Carmel cast its illumination and its bounties literally upon Mt Carmel, upon "that consecrated Spot which,"

Page 256

Shoghi Effendi wrote, "under the wings of The Báb's overshadowing destined to evolve into the focal Centre of those world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing administrative institutions, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh and anticipated by `Abdu'l-Bahá, and which are to function in consonance with the principles that govern the twin institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.

The significance of the "unfolding glory" of these institutions at the World Centre was reflected in many messages sent by Shoghi Effendi during the last years of his life, messages which stirred a man like George Townshend to write to him, in a letter dated 14 January 1952, sent at the time he thanked the Guardian for the bounty of being made a Hand: "Permit me to pay you a humble tribute of the utmost admiration and gratitude for the nearing vision of the Victory of God which you almost by your sole might now have spread before the astonished Bahá'í world."

In the course of these messages Shoghi Effendi revealed both the station and some of the functions of his newly created body of Hands. He hailed the unfoldment, during the "opening years" of the second epoch of the Formative Age of this Dispensation, of that "august institution" which Bahá'u'lláh Himself had not only foreshadowed but a few members of which He had already appointed during His own lifetime and which `Abdu'l-Bahá had formally established in His Will and Testament. In addition to the support the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land had already given him, through erecting The Báb's Shrine, reinforcing the ties with the State of Israel, extending the international endowments in the Holy Land and initiating preliminary measures for the establishment of the Bahá'í World Administrative Centre, they had also taken part in the four great Intercontinental Teaching Conferences held during the Holy Year, from October 1952 to October 1953, at which they represented the Guardian of the Faith, and after which, at his request, they had travelled extensively in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. This body, Shoghi Effendi said in April 1954, was now entering upon the second phase of its evolution, signalized by the forging of ties between it and the National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in the prosecution of the Ten Year Plan; the fifteen Hands who resided outside the Holy Land should, during the Ridvan period, appoint in each continent separately, from among the believers of that continent, Auxiliary Boards whose members would act as "deputies", "assistants" and

Page 257

"advisers" to the Hands and increasingly assist in the promotion of the Ten Year Crusade. These Boards were to consist of nine members each in America, Europe a Africa, seven in Asia and two in Australia. The Boards were responsible to the Hands of their respective continents; the Hands, on their part, were to keep in close contact with the National Assemblies in their areas and inform them of the activities of their Boards; they were also to keep in close touch with the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, who were destined to act as the liaison between them and the Guardian. At this time Shoghi Effendi inaugurated Continental Bahá'í Funds for the work of the Hands, opening these Funds by himself contributing one thousand pounds to each.

A year later Shoghi Effendi nominated the thirteen Hands of the Cause he wished to attend as his representatives the thirteen Conventions to be held in 1957 to elect new National Assemblies; from the time he formally appointed Hands of the Cause until his death he constantly used them for this purpose. In 1957, exactly four months before he passed away, Shoghi Effendi, in a lengthy cable, informed the believers that the "triumphant consummation series historic enterprises" and the "evidences increasing hostility without" and "persistent machinations within" foreshadowing "dire contests destined range Army Light forces darkness both secular religious" necessitated a closer association between the Hands in five continents and the National Assemblies to jointly investigate the "nefarious activities internal enemies adoption wise effective measures counteract their treacherous schemes" in order to protect the mass of the believers and to arrest the spread of the evil influence of these enemies. At the beginning of this cable Shoghi Effendi points out that the Hands, in addition to their newly assumed responsibility of assisting the National Spiritual Assemblies in the prosecution of the World Spiritual Crusade, must now fulfil their "primary obligation" of watching over and protecting the Bahá'í World Community, in close collaboration with the National Assemblies. He ends this portentous message with these words: "Call upon Hands National Assemblies each continent separately establish henceforth direct contact deliberate whenever feasible frequently as possible exchange reports to be submitted by their respective Auxiliary Boards National Committees exercise unrelaxing vigilance carry our unflinchingly sacred inescapable duties. Security precious Faith preservation spiritual health Bahá'í Communities vitality faith its individual members proper

Page 258

functioning its laboriously erected institutions fruition its worldwide enterprises fulfilment its ultimate destiny all directly dependent befitting discharge weighty responsibilities now resting members these two institutions occupying with Universal House Justice next institution Guardianship foremost rank divinely ordained administrative hierarchy World Order Bahá'u'lláh."

The last great message of Shoghi Effendi's life - dated October, but actually conceived in August - again reinforced the significance and importance of the institution of the Hands of the Cause. In it Shoghi Effendi not only appointed his last contingent of Hands but took the highly significant step of inaugurating a further Auxiliary Board in each continent: "This latest addition to the band of the high-ranking officers of a fast evolving World Administrative Order, involving a further expansion of the august institution of the Hands of the Cause of god, calls for, in view of the recent assumption by them of their sacred responsibility as protectors of the faith, the appointment by these same Hands, in each continent separately, of an additional Auxiliary Board, equal in membership to the existing one, and charge with the specific duty of watching over the security of the Faith, thereby complementing the function of the original Board, whose duty will henceforth be exclusively concerned with assisting the prosecution of the Ten Year Plan."

It is almost impossible to imagine what state the Bahá'í world would have been plunged into after Shoghi Effendi's death if he had not referred in these terms to the Hands of the Cause, and if he had not so clearly charged the National Assemblies to collaborate with the Hands in their primary function as protectors of the Faith. Can we not discern, in these last messages, a black cloud the size of a man's hand on the horizon?

It was the duty and right of Shoghi Effendi, explicitly stated in the Master's Will, to appoint the Hands of the Cause. With one exception he made only posthumous appointments during the first thirty years of his ministry. It was the highest honour he could confer on a believer, living or dead, and he so named many Bahá'ís, East and West, after their death; the most outstanding of these was Martha Root, whom he characterized as the foremost Hand raised up in the first century of the Faith since the inception of its Formative Age. The one exception was Amelia Collins. He cabled her on 22 November 1946: "Your magnificent international services exemplary devotion and now this signal service impel me inform you

Page 259

your elevation rank Hand Cause Bahá'u'lláh. You are first be told this honour in lifetime. As to time announcement leave it my discretion". It was the custom of Shoghi Effendi to inform each Hand of his elevation to this position at the time he made public his choice. Three of them, Fred Schopflocher and Musa Banani, who were in Haifa as pilgrims at the time he made his announcement, and myself, he informed to our faces. To try to describe with what feelings of stupefaction, of unworthiness and awe the news of this honour overwhelmed the recipients of it would be impossible. Each heart received it as a shaft that aroused an even greater love for and loyalty to the Guardian than that heart had ever held before.

The long years of preparation - outside in the body of the Bahá'í world through the erection of the machinery of the Administrative Order, inside its heart through the erection of the superstructure of the Shrine of The Báb and the general consolidation of the World Centre - had involved the creation of a Spot suitable to form the "focal centre", as Shoghi Effendi termed it, of the mightiest institutions of the Faith. This Spot was no less than the resting-places of the mother, sister and brother of `Abdu'l-Bahá, those "three incomparably precious souls", as he called them, "who, next to the three Central Figures of our Faith, tower in rank above the vast multitude of the heroes, Letters, martyrs, hands, teachers and administrators of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh."

It had long been the desire of the Greatest Holy Leaf to lie near her mother, who was buried in Akka, as was her brother, Mihdi. But when Bahiyyih Khanum passed away in 1932 she had been befittingly interred on Mt Carmel near the Shrine of The Báb. Shoghi Effendi conceived the idea of transferring the remains of her mother and brother, so unsuitably buried in Akka, to the vicinity of her resting-place and in 1939 he ordered in Italy twin marble monuments, similar in style to the one he had erected over her own grave. Fortunately these reached Haifa safely in spite of the war. Far from being a simple procedure "the consummation of this long, this profoundly cherished hope" proved to be extremely difficult. I will quote from my own published account of these events as I was, of course, present in Haifa at the time: "Whilst their tombs were still in process of excavation from the solid rock of the mountain, the Guardian had learned that the Covenant-breakers were protesting against the right of the Bahá'ís to remove the mother and brother of `Abdu'l-Bahá to new graves, actually

Page 260

having the temerity to represent to the government their so-called claim as relatives of the deceased. As soon, however, as the civil authorities had the true state of facts made clear to them - that these same relatives had been the arch-enemies of the Master and His family, had left the true Cause of Bahá'u'lláh to follow their own devices, and had been denounced by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament - they approved the plan of the Guardian and immediately issued the necessary papers for the exhumation of the bodies. Without risking further delay Shoghi Effendi, two days later, himself removed the Purest Branch and his mother to Mount Carmel".

After daybreak, accompanied by a few Bahá'ís, Shoghi Effendi went to Akka, opened one grave after the other, and brought the remains to Haifa. He later told me about it; it had been a nerve-racking experience for him in every way. In the first place there was a very real risk that the Covenant-breakers might decide to come with a party of supporters to the cemeteries and try to prevent by force the exhumations; in this they would have had the sympathy of the Muslims who believer that to open a grave is the greatest desecration, and indeed open graves just for the purpose of inflicting this greatest of all insults. Aside from this danger, to stand while a grave is being opened, no matter how noble the purpose for doing it may be, is a very harrowing experience; how much more so for a sensitive person like Shoghi Effendi! When the earth was removed from the coffin of the Master's mother he discovered the wood was still intact, except for the bottom which had rotted away, and so he instructed them to gently remove the top. He told me the figure of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í mother, would in her shroud, lay there so clearly outlined that one could almost discern her features, but it collapsed in dust and bones at the first touch. He descended into the grave and with his own hands helped to place the skeleton in the new coffin prepared for it; this was then closed, loaded on a waiting vehicle, and they all proceeded to the second Arab cemetery where the Purest Branch was buried and there opened his grave. As he had been buried two decades longer than his mother, and the interment had been hastily carried out in the days when Bahá'u'lláh was so strictly confined in the prison barracks of Akka, the coffin had entirely disintegrated and Shoghi Effendi again gathered up himself the few bones and dust that remained and again placed them himself in the second coffin that lay beside the grave to receive them. Although all this was carried out successfully

Page 261

it took many harrowing hours of strain and anxiety to accomplish before Shoghi Effendi, with his precious trust, could return to Haifa. I will again quote from what I wrote at the time as it is so much more vivid than anything I could rewrite at this distance from the event: "Twilight has fallen on Mount Carmel and the veils of dusk have deepened over the bay of 'Akka. A group of men stand waiting by the gate, beneath the steps. Suddenly there is a stir, the gardener runs to illumine the entrance and amidst the white shafts of light a procession appears. A man clothed in black rests the weight of a coffin on his shoulder. It is the Guardian of the Cause and he bears the mortal remains of the Purest Branch, Bahá'u'lláh's beloved son. Slowly he and his fellow bearers mount the narrow path and in silence approach the house adjacent to the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf. A devoted servant speeds ahead with a rug and candelabra from the Holy Shrines and swiftly prepares the room. The gentle, strong face of the Guardian appears as he enters the door, that precious weight always on his shoulder, and the coffin is laid temporarily to rest in a humble room, facing Bahji, the Qiblih of the Faith. Again those devoted servants, led by their Guardian, return to the gate and again remount the path with another sacred burden, this time the body of the wife of Bahá'u'lláh, the mother of the Master."

The moment this task had been safely accomplished the American Assembly, on 5 December, received the following cable from Shoghi Effendi: "Blessed remains Purest Branch and Master's mother safely transferred hallowed precincts Shrines Mount Carmel. Long inflicted humiliation wiped away. Machinations Covenant-breakers frustrate plan defeated. Cherished wish Greatest Holy Leaf fulfilled. Sister brother mother wife `Abdu'l-Bahá reunited one spot designed constitute focal centre Bahá'í Administrative Institutions at Faith's World Centre. Share joyful news entire body American believers. Shoghi Rabbani." The signing of the Guardian's full name was required as we were at war and all correspondence was censored.

The exquisite taste and sense of proportion, so characteristic of everything the Guardian created, is nowhere better reflected than in the marble monuments he erected over the four graves of these close relatives of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Designed in Italy according to Shoghi Effendi's own instructions and executed there in white Carrara marble, they were shipped to Haifa and placed, in the decade between 1932 and 1942, in their predestined positions,

Page 262

around which he constructed the beautiful gardens which we commonly referred to as the "Monument Gardens" and which he evolved into the fulcrum of that arc on Mt Carmel about which are to cluster in future the International Institutions of the Faith.

For three weeks these precious remains were kept in that room until, as Shoghi Effendi cabled in 26 December: "Christmas eve beloved remains Purest Branch and Master's mother laid in state Báb's Holy Tomb. Christmas day entrusted Carmel's sacred soil. Ceremony presence representatives Near Eastern believers profoundly moving. Impelled associate America's momentous Seven Year enterprise imperishable memory these two holy souls who next twin founders Faith and perfect Exemplar tower together with Greatest Holy Leaf above entire concourse faithful. Rejoice privilege pledge thousand pounds my contribution Bahiyyih Khanum Fund designed inauguration final drive insure placing contract next April last remaining stage construction Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. Time pressing opportunity priceless potent aid providentially promised unfailing."

The genius of the Guardian for doing things befittingly, ever following so faithfully in the footsteps of his beloved grandfather, is nowhere better demonstrated than in the extreme honour and reverence with which he accomplished the final interment of those two holy souls who had been so much loved by both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá. So unique is this entire event in religious history that I feel it must receive its full due here. Again I refer to the above-mentioned article: "The last stone is laid in the two vaults, the floors are paved in marble, the name plates fixed to mark their heads, the earth smoothed out, the path that leads to their last resting-place built...And now, again on the shoulder of the Guardian, they are borne forth to lie in state in the Holy Tomb of The Báb. Side by side, far greater than the great of this world, they lie by that sacred threshold, facing Bahji, with candles burning at their heads and flowers before their feet...The following sunset we gather once again in that Holy Shrine...Slowly, held aloft on the hands of the faithful, led by Shoghi Effendi, who never relinquishes his precious burden...Once they circumambulate the Shrines, the coffin of beloved Mihdi, supported by the Guardian, followed by that of the Master's mother, passes us slowly by. Around the Shrine, onward through the lighted garden, down the white path, out onto the moonlit road, that solemn procession passes. High, seeming to move of themselves, above the heads of

Page 263

those following, the coffins wend their way...They pass before us, outlined against the night sky...They approach, the face of the Guardian close to that priceless burden he bears. They pass on toward the waiting vaults. Now they lay the Purest Branch to rest. Shoghi Effendi himself enters the carpeted vault and gently eases the coffin to its preordained place. He himself strews it with flowers, his hands the last to caress it. The mother of the Master is then placed in the same manner by the Guardian in the neighbouring vault...Masons are called to seal the tombs...Flowers are heaped upon the vaults and the Guardian sprinkles a vial of attar of rose upon them...And now the voice of Shoghi Effendi is raised as he chants those Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and destined by Him to be read at their graves."

When we remember that all these events, of such an extremely delicate nature, causing so much anxiety and suspense, and so harrowing to the feelings in every way, transpired less than two months after the Guardian had risen from his bed after one of the most serious illnesses he had ever had, we cannot but marvel anew at the pathos of his life and the iron determination, the courage and devotion that animated him in everything he did.

At last Shoghi Effendi, so powerfully guided from on high, had succeeded in establishing his "focal Centre". But it was not until over fourteen years later that he was in a position to inform the Bahá'í world that he was now taking a step which would "usher in the establishment of the World Administrative Centre of the Faith on Mt. Carmel - the Ark referred to by Bahá'u'lláh in the closing passages of His Tablet of Carmel ". This step was none other than the erection of an international Bahá'í Archives.

Shortly after the addition of three rooms to The Báb's Shrine, in the early thirties, Shoghi Effendi had established an Archives at the World Centre, housed temporarily in these quarter and based on the precious relics of both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá which were already in the possession of the Master's family and many of the old Bahá'ís living in Palestine. Visiting them became a deeply moving experience. "If one could have walked into a museum of the authentic relics of the days and life of Christ," I wrote in 1937, after my first seeing them, "what would it have meant to the Christian believers? If they had seen His sandals, dusty from the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, or the mantle that hung from His shoulders - or the cloth that protected His head from the sun; what atmosphere of assurance, of wonder, even of adoration

Page 264

would have stirred the inheritors of His Faith. If their eyes could have rested on even one fragmentary line penned by His hand... To most of the people of the world the meaning of such things is beyond their imagining; but to Bahá'ís, believers in the newest Revelation of God's Will as yet revealed to unfolding mankind upon this planet, this inestimable privilege has been vouchsafed."

As the Bahá'ís learned more about these Archives and the pilgrims visited them in increasing numbers and saw how safely historic and sacred material was preserved, how beautifully exhibited, how reverently displayed, they began to send from Persia truly priceless articles associated with the three Central Figures of the Faith as well as its martyrs and heroes. Amongst these most welcome additions were objects belonging to The Báb, contributed by the Afnans, which greatly enriched the collection. It grew to such dimensions that at a later date the little house where the remains of the Purest Branch and his mother had been placed before their reburial was transformed by the Guardian into an additional Archives and the two places were referred to, for convenience's sake, as the "Major" and "Minor" Archives, or just as the "old" and the "new" Archives.

It was in 1954, during the first year of the World Crusade, that Shoghi Effendi decided to start on what he said was "the first of the major edifices destined to constitute the seat of the World Bahá'í Administrative Centre to be established on Mt. Carmel". His choice fell on a building he considered both urgently needed and feasible, namely, one to house the sacred and historic relics collected in the Holy Land which were dispersed at that time throughout six rooms in two separate buildings. By Naw-Ruz 1954, the excavation for its foundations had begun. Shoghi Effendi was, in choosing his initial design for buildings of the importance he had in mind, guided by three things: it bust be beautiful, it must be dignified and it must have a lasting value and not reflect the transient (and to him for the most part very ugly) style of modern buildings being erected in an age of experimentation and groping after new forms. He was a great admirer of Greek architecture and considered the Parthenon in Athens one of the most beautiful buildings ever created; he chose the proportions of the Parthenon as his model, but changed the order of the capitals from Doric to Ionic. After his many suggestions had been incorporated in the final design Shoghi Effendi approved it and what he described as "this imposing and strikingly beautiful edifice" was completed in

Page 265

1957. It had cost approximately a quarter of a million dollars and was, like the Shrine of The Báb, ordered in Italy, entirely carved and completed there, and shipped to Haifa for erection; not only was each separate stone numbered, but charts showing where each one went facilitated its being placed in its proper position. Except for the foundations and reinforced cement work of floor, walls and ceiling, it would not be incorrect to say it was a building fabricated almost entirely abroad and erected locally.

No enterprise undertaken by Shoghi Effendi better demonstrates his originality, his independence of the views and advise of others and his determination to get things done expeditiously than the way he personally handled this entire project. First he spent much time in studying, through strings laid out on the ground marking the dimensions of the building, the exact position he wanted it to occupy, which he changed a number of times until he was satisfied with its location; he then proceeded to landscape all the area in front of it, laying out paths and planting trees and lawns. He then informed Leroy Ioas, who was to supervise the work locally (as Ugo Giachery was supervising the other part of it in Italy), that the building would have to be built from the rear, fitting the front into the gardens that already surrounded it, for practically its full length on all three sides, leaving only about five metres' leeway to work in! The result of this was that the edifice rose, it rose in a setting of gardens which appeared well-grown and mature and when it was completed, far from having that usual desolate stretch of tramped down land around it, it looked as if it had been standing there for years. How providential it was that the Guardian did this, that under his guidance, with his impeccable taste, his perfect sense of proportion, it was all completed before he passed away. Indeed, so complete were all his preparations that when the time came to place in the Archives the furniture and objects d'art he had himself purchased and chosen to furnish it, practically everything needed was there at hand and the relics and many things of historic interest he had so assiduously assembled in the Major and Minor Archives could be placed in the setting he had designed for them, more or less as he would have done it himself.

In his last Ridvan Message to the Bahá'í world Shoghi Effendi's satisfaction with the Archives building he had chosen and erected is clearly reflected; after announcing its completion he wrote that it is "contributing, to an unprecedented degree, through its

Page 266

colourfulness, its classic style and graceful proportions, and in conjunction with the stately, golden-crowned Mausoleum rising beyond it, to the unfolding glory of the central institutions of a World Faith nestling in the heart of God's holy Mountain.

In a message addressed to the Bahá'í world on 27 November 1954 - linked by the Guardian once again to the anniversary of his beloved Master's passing - Shoghi Effendi dwelt on the significance of this building, stating that possession of a long-desired piece of land had at last been assured and that the ownership of this plot would not make it possible to proceed with the erection of the International Bahá'í Archives. "The raising of this Edifice will in turn", he goes on to say, "herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of Hands of the Cause, adn the Universal House of Justice. These Edifices will, in the shape of a far-flung arc, and following a harmonizing style of architecture, surround the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, ranking as foremost among the members of her sex in the Bahá'í Dispensation, of her brother, offered up as a ransom by Bahá'u'lláh for the quickening of the world and its unification, and of their mother, proclaimed by Him to be His chosen 'consort in all the worlds of God '. The ultimate completion of this stupendous undertaking will mark the culmination of the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order whose beginnings may be traced as far back as the concluding years of the Heroic Age of the Faith.

So great was the importance Shoghi Effendi attached to this "arc", the lines of which he had studied very carefully on the ground and which sweeps around on the mountain in the form of a gigantic bow, arched above the resting-places of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í closest relatives, and on the right side of which now stands the Archives, that he announced its completion in his last Ridvan Message in 1957: "the plan designed to insure the extension and completion of the arc serving as a base for the erection of future edifices constituting the World Bahá'í Administrative Centre, has been successfully carried out."

Page 267

Underlying, reinforcing, and indeed often making possible such major undertakings as the erection of the superstructure of The Báb's Shrine, the construction of the Archives, the building of the terraces on Mt Carmel, and many other activities, was the purchase of land, both in Haifa and Bahji; it was a task to which the Guardian attached great importance and which he pursued throughout all the years of his ministry. Before he passed away he had succeeded in creating great protective rings of land around the holiest of all Shrines, Bahá'u'lláh's Tomb, and around the resting-places of The Báb, `Abdu'l-Bahá, His mother, sister and brother. In addition to this he had chosen and directed the purchase of the land on Mt Carmel which would serve as the site of the future Bahá'í Temple to be erected in the Holy Land. If we consider that at the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing the area of Bahá'í properties on Mt Carmel probably did not exceed 10,000 square metres for 1957, we get an idea of his accomplishments in this one field along. Through the generosity of individual Bahá'ís, through their bequests, through their response to his appeals in times of crisis, through the use of funds he held at the World Centre, Shoghi Effendi succeeded in purchasing land on the scale reflected by these figures and thus metamorphosed the situation of the Faith at its World Centre.

In May 1931 the Guardian cabled the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada: "American Assembly incorporated as recognized religious body in Palestine entitled hold property as trustees American believers. Mailing title deed property already transferred their name. Prestige Faith greatly enhanced its foundations consolidated love". This was the

Page 268

first step in constituting Palestine Branches - which were later changed to Israel Branches - of various National Assemblies and registering in their names properties owned in the Holy Land. Although the power of disposing of these properties was entirely vested locally at the World Centre, the prestige of the Faith was greatly enhanced by this move, its Holy Places were buttressed and safeguarded, its world character emphasized in the eyes of the authorities, and national Bahá'í communities were encouraged and strengthened. The messages of Shoghi Effendi referring to this subject reflect very clearly his policy and motives: "Palestine Branch Indian National Assembly established. Congratulate believers India Burma incorporation their National Assembly first legally constituted institution eastern section Bahá'í world..." "...recognition preeminent services continually enriching recorded achievements associated preeminent community Bahá'í world arranging transfer extensive valuable property acquired precincts Shrines Mount Carmel name Palestine Branch American Assembly..." "Every effort will be exerted in the Holy Land, as a tribute to the superb spirit animating the Australian and New Zealand believers and to their incessant and meritorious hasten the transfer of a part of the Bahá'í international endowments to the name of the newly constituted Israel Branch of your Assembly - an act that will at once bestow a great spiritual and material benefit on your Assembly and reinforce the ties binding it to the World Centre..."

At the time of Shoghi Effendi's passing he had already established nine of these Branches, namely, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the British Isles, Iran, Pakistan, Alaska and that of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India and Burma.

When Shoghi Effendi had built the three additional rooms of the Shrine of The Báb and completed the restoration of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, thus producing local, tangible evidences of the strength of the Bahá'í Community, and had demonstrated to the British authorities, through the victories won over the Covenant-breakers, that he had the solid backing of Bahá'ís all over the world, he set about procuring for the Bahá'í Holy Places exemption from both municipal and government taxes. It was not as difficult to get a building, obviously a place of sacred association and visited by pilgrims, exempted from taxes as it was to secure similar exemption for the steadily increasing area of land owned by the Faith,

Page 269

most of which was registered in the names of individuals. Governments and municipalities are always reluctant to lose sources of income, always very afraid that a precedent will be established which other communities will pounce upon for their own gain. Because of this the ultimate exemption from all forms of taxation, including customs duty, which Shoghi Effendi obtained for the Bahá'í buildings and holdings throughout the country, was truly a great achievement. The major victories in this field were all won in the days of the British Mandate, the Israeli Government accepting the status achieved by the Bahá'ís before the new State was formed in 1948.

In his early efforts, at the beginning of the 1930's, to obtain this form of recognition Shoghi Effendi was greatly assisted by Sir Arthur Wauchope, the High Commissioner for Palestine during that period, who seems to have been, judging by his letters to Shoghi Effendi, a gentle, courteous and noble-minded man. On 26 June 1933 we find him writing to the Guardian: "I have received your letter of 21st June and I hasten to write to thank you for it and to assure you that when the case which you mention is referred to me for a decision under the Palestine (Holy Places) Order in Council, it will receive my most careful consideration." Almost a year later, on 10 May 1934, Shoghi Effendi cabled America: "Prolonged negotiations Palestine authorities resulted exemption from taxation entire area surrounding dedicated Shrines Mount Carmel" and indicated that he considered this step tantamount to "securing indirect recognition sacredness Faith International Centre..." In connection with this there are two letters, one dated 16 May 1934 from Sir Arthur to Shoghi Effendi in which he says "I hope this exemption will help you in carrying on your fine work", and one from Shoghi Effendi to him, dated six days earlier, in which he states "The gratifying news has just come to me from the District Commissioner at Haifa that the petition for exemption from taxation of the Bahá'í property holdings on Mt. Carmel has been granted by the Government." He goes on to add his own and the Bahá'ís deep appreciation for His Excellency's effective interest in this matter and says this decision opens the way for "our plan to gradually beautify this property for the use and enjoyment of the people of Haifa..."

By thus reading the pleasant tail end of events does not get any idea of what Shoghi Effendi went through in connection with purchasing, exempting from taxes and safeguarding the properties

Page 270

at the World Centre. In a cable to the American National Assembly, of 28 March 1935, one of innumerable examples of what took place is given: "Contract for purchase and transfer to Palestine Branch American Assembly Dumits property situated centre area dedicated to Shrines on Mount Carmel signed. Four year litigation involving Bahá'í World's petitions Palestine High Commissioner abandoned. Owners require four thousand pounds. Half sum available. Will American believers unitedly contribute one thousand pounds before end of May and remaining one thousand within nine months. Am compelled appeal entire body American community subordinate national interests of Faith to its urgent paramount requirements at its World Centre", to which the American Assembly replied, two days later, that the American Bahá'í Community "will with only heart fulfil glorious privilege conferred upon it by beloved Guardian".

So many times Shoghi Effendi referred to the Holy Land as the "heart and nerve centre" of the faith. To protect it, develop it and noise abroad its glory was part of his function as its Guardian. In addition to his official contacts with government and municipal authorities he maintained courteous and friendly relations with many non-Bahá'ís, of prominence and otherwise. The catholicity of spirit which so strongly characterized the Guardian, his complete lack of any breath of prejudice or fanaticism, the sympathy and courtesy that distinguished him so strongly, are all reflected in his letters and messages to such people. He carried on a lengthy correspondence, curing the earliest years of his ministry, with Grand Duke Alexander of Russia, whom it was obvious, from the tone of his letters, he liked. He addresses him as: "My true brother in the service of God!", "My dear brother in the love of God!" The Grand duke was very interested in a movement called the "Unity of Souls" and Shoghi Effendi encouraged him: "I am more and more impressed", he writes, "by the striking similarity to out aims and principles and I beseech the Almighty to bless His servants in their service to the cause of suffering humanity." The Grand Duke, in a letter to the Guardian writes: "...I must confess to you, my dear brother and fellow worker, that in my modest work occasionally I feel discouraged...the power of evil forces under the influence of which the majority of humanity is living, is appalling." Shoghi Effendi answers this most beautifully: "...I assure my dear fellow-worker in the service of God, that I too feel oftentimes overwhelmed by the rising wave of selfish, gross

Page 271

materialism that threatens to engulf the world, and I feel that however arduous be our common task we must persevere to the very end and pray continually and ardently that the ever-living spirit of god may so fill the souls of men as to cause them to arise with new vision for the service and salvation of humanity. Prayer and individual persistent effort, I feel, must be given greater and wider prominence in these days of stress and gloom..."

Shoghi Effendi was in touch not only with Queen Marie of Rumania and number of her relatives, but with other people of royal lineage, such as Princess Marina of Greece who later became Duchess of Kent, and Princess Kadria of Egypt. To many of these, as well as to men of such prominence as Lord Lamington, a number of former High Commissioners for Palestine, Orientalists, university professors, educators and others, Shoghi Effendi was wont to send copies of the latest Bahá'í World volumes or one of his own recently published translations, with his visiting card enclosed - practically the only occasion on which he ever used one, as their main function seemed to be for him to keep notes on! He was always very meticulous - as long as the relationship was one of mutual courtesy and esteem - to send messages of condolence to acquaintances who had suffered a bereavement, expressing his "heartfelt sympathy" at that person's "great loss". Such messages, often sent as cables or wires, deeply touched those who received them and gave him a reputation among them which belied the picture of him the Covenant-breakers did their best to create. He also often congratulated people on the occasion of a marriage or a promotion.

In addition to these personal relationships Shoghi Effendi had far more contact with certain non-Bahá'í organizations than is commonly supposed. This was particularly true of the Esperantists, whose whole object was to bring about the fulfilment of the Bahá'í principle that a universal auxiliary language must be adopted in the interests of World Peace. We have copies of his personal messages to the Universal Congress of Esperantists held in 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931, and he no doubt sent many messages of a similar nature at other times. Shoghi Effendi not only responded warmly when there was any overture made to him, but often took the initiative himself in sending Bahá'í representatives, chosen by him, to various conferences whose interests coincided with those of the Bahá'ís. We thus find him writing to the Universal Esperantist Association, in 1927, that Martha Root and

Page 272

Julia Goldman will attend their Danzig congress as official Bahá'í representatives, and that he trusts this "will serve to strengthen the ties of fellowship that bind the Esperantists and the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, one of whose cardinal the adoption of an international auxiliary language for all humanity." In his letter addressed to the delegates and friends attending this nineteenth Universal Congress of Esperantists he writes:

My dear fellow workers in the service of humanity

I take great pleasure in addressing you and wishing you...from all my heart the fullest success in the work you are doing for the promotion of the good of humanity.

It will interest you, I am sure, to learn that as the result of the repeated and emphatic admonitions of `Abdu'l-Bahá His many followers even in the most distant villages and hamlets of Persia, where the light of Western civilization has hardly penetrated as yet, as well as in other lands throughout the East, are strenuously and enthusiastically engaged in the study and teaching of Esperanto, for whose future they cherish the highest hopes...

The Guardian himself was held in high esteem by many people working for ideals similar to those the Bahá'ís cherish. Sir Francis Younghusband, in 1926, wrote to him in connection with the "World Congress of Faiths": "Now I wish to ask a great favour of you. Once more I want to try and persuade you to come to England to attend the Congress. Your presence here would carry great influence and would be highly appreciated. And we would most willingly defray the expenses you might be put to." The Guardian declined this invitation, but arranged for a Bahá'í paper to be presented. His own plans and work precluded him, he felt, from opening such a door.

In 1925 the Zionist Executive in Jerusalem invited him to attend an event in connection with the establishment of a university there. Shoghi Effendi wired them, on 1 April: "Appreciate kind invitation regret inability to be present. Bahá'ís hope and pray the establishment of this seat of learning may contribute to the revival of a land of hallowed memories for us all and for which `Abdu'l-Bahá cherished the highest hopes." To this message they replied in cordial terms: "Zionists Executive much appreciate your friendly message and good wishes we trust that newly established university may contribute not only advancement of science and learning but also to better understanding between men which ideal is so well served by Bahá'ís". Twenty-five years later the tie established is

Page 273

still there: "The Hebrew University was very gratified indeed to receive your check for 100 [pounds}.- as the contribution from His Eminence Shoghi Effendi Rabbani towards the work of this institution... We were happy to know that His Eminence is aware of the important work that the University is doing and to receive this generous token of appreciation from him..."

A cable of Shoghi Effendi, sent to India in December 1930, is of particular interest because it shows how, up to the very end of her life, he would tenderly include the Greatest Holy Leaf in messages that seemed particularly suitable: "Convey to Indian Asian Women's Conference behalf Greatest Holy Leaf `Abdu'l-Bahá'í sister and myself our genuine profound interest their deliberations. May Almighty guide bless their high endeavours".

Aside from this wide correspondence with prominent individuals as well as various Societies, Shoghi Effendi was wont to receive in his home the visits of many distinguished people, such as Lord and Lady Samuel; Sir Ronald Storrs, another friend of `Abdu'l-Bahá; Moshe Sharett, later to become one of Israel's most loved and prominent officials; Profession Norman Bentwich and many writers, journalists and notables.

However important were such contacts and exchanges as these, undoubtedly the most important of all such relations was that which the Guardian had with officials at the World Centre, whether under British rule during the Mandate in Palestine or later after the War of Independence and the establishment of the State of Israel. Cordial though these relations were with the representatives of both governments there is no doubt whatsoever that they would have been much more cordial, and led to much greater things, had it not been for the insidious, persistent influence exerted by all kinds of enemies of the Faith, whether disaffected Bahá'ís or jealous members of other religious groups. To the effect produced by such as these must be added the results of the fact that for the most part Shoghi Effendi's helpers lacked calibre. Once he remarked to me that it was a great pity so many good people lacked good judgment and so many intelligent people lacked good character, pointing out that the ideal thing was a good person who was intelligent at the same time. He had his full share as Guardian of both extremes and very seldom found in those who served him the combination he desired. I remember on another occasion his telling me of a Persian proverb that says it is better to have a wise enemy than a foolish friend! An example of what the Guardian had

Page 274

to contend with is a remark a member of his family made to me: he said an Englishman - by no means a mere nobody - had told him he would like to call on Shoghi Effendi, to which this person replied that he was welcome to do so, but he must not expect the Guardian to return his call, as he never did this. One can easily see how remarks as tactless and thoughtless as this built a wall of misunderstanding around Shoghi Effendi which, combined with the whispers of real ill-wishers, served to misrepresent him to the public and put him in a most unkind light; if the man had met Shoghi Effendi he would have been so impressed he would not have even thought of whether the Guardian was going to return his call or not. But of course, after this remark he never came near the Guardian. The Guardian's own judgment was so perfect, however, that by strictly guiding his would-be co-workers and subordinates he accomplished, in the face of what often seemed hopelessly complicated situations, miracles. Without having a tortuous mind himself he could see into the workings of the minds of those who did, and thus did not press issues unwisely at the wrong time, or find himself caught by refusals that would manoeuvre the Cause into an impasse out of which he might not be able to extricate it for a very long time.

When one thinks of who Shoghi Effendi was, how exalted both his station and his capacities were, one cannot but feel intense regret that he was denied the company of the great men of this world who, to at least a small extent, might have provided him with interesting and stimulating companionship. That he felt the lack of such relationships in his life he often indicated in remarks he made to me. Shoghi Effendi saw through people very clearly, with a shrewdness that would better be described as divine rather than human.

In all his relationships with both government and municipal officials Shoghi Effendi sought from the very beginning to impress upon them that the Faith was an independent religion, universal in character, and that its permanent World Spiritual and Administrative Centre was situated in the Holy Land. He spent thirty-six years winning from the authorities the recognition and rights that such a status entitled the Bahá'í Faith to enjoy, one aspect of which was that he himself should receive the treatment on official occasions which was his due as the hereditary Head of such a Faith. For a number of reasons, such as the numerical insignificance of the Bahá'í Community in Palestine, the challenge to his authority

Page 275

made by the Covenant-breakers immediately after the Master's passing, the reluctance of all civil authorities to become involved in religious issues, both the British and the Israeli Governments were loath to accord Shoghi Effendi the degree of respect and precedence his unique office warranted, and because of this, with very few exceptions, he avoided ever attending official functions. When we recall the fact that from 1868, when He arrived in Akka, until His death in 1921, `Abdu'l-Bahá never set foot in Jerusalem, because, Shoghi Effendi said, He would not have been treated as befitted His exalted station and the historical significance a visit by Him to Jerusalem deserved, and that because of this He avoided ever going there, we get some idea of the issues involved in this struggle.

Early in his ministry Shoghi Effendi had had an experience that drove home to him the pitfalls involved if he accepted the invitations the local authorities sent him to be present on such occasions as the visit of a high official to Haifa. He told me of how he attended one of these receptions, given by the District Commissioner in honour of the High Commissioner. On entering the room the Guardian found the High Commissioner seated at the centre and top of the room; the only chair near him which was vacant was the one on his right. Unhesitatingly Shoghi Effendi advanced and seated himself in it; as this was the one reserved for the District Commissioner, and he did not wish to request the Guardian publicly to vacate it, another one was brought for this official. Shoghi Effendi well knew that on any similar occasion this would not be permitted to happen and he never again attended such a function.

There seems to be an allusion to this, or at least an allusion to the dilemma Shoghi Effendi found himself in, in a letter to Colonel Stewart B. Symes, former Governor of Haifa who had recently been transferred to Jerusalem and appointed Chief Secretary of the Palestine Administration. On 17 May 1925 Shoghi Effendi wrote and congratulated him on this appointment. It then seems that Colonel Symes came on an official visit to Haifa for we find the Guardian writing to him again, on the 25th, that "In view of various considerations arising out of the still undefined status of the Bahá'í Community I find it, to my regret and sorrow impossible to participate in person in the various public functions arranged in your honour. I thus find myself denied the great pleasure and privilege of raising my voice not only in the name of the local

Page 276

community but also on behalf of the Bahá'ís throughout the world in appreciation and gratitude for the good will and high sense of justice which have characterized your attitude towards the various problems arising out of the sudden passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá. I am sure you will realize that my enforced absence from these public gatherings implies in no way a want of cordiality and friendship towards the representative of an administration which the Bahá'ís have every reason to regard with high esteem and deep confidence." He goes on to invite Colonel and Mrs Symes and her mother tea in the gardens, or, if this cannot be arranged conveniently, he will call personally at their home. It is interesting to note how, almost a quarter of a century later, a similar situation arose, this time in connection with Prime Minister Ben Gurion's first visit to Haifa, and the same motives persuaded Shoghi Effendi to pursue an identical course.

The Guardian was on very friendly terms with Colonel Symes, who was none other than that Governor of Phoenicia who spoke at the Master's funeral and attended the fortieth-day meeting in His home. It had been to Colonel Symes that Shoghi Effendi had written, on 5 April 1922, at the time of his withdrawal: "As I am compelled to leave Haifa for reasons of health, I have named as my representative during my absence, the sister of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahiyyih Khanum" and gone on to say "To assist her to conduct the affairs of the Bahá'í Movement in this country and elsewhere, I have also appointed a committee of the following Bahá'ís [eight men of the local community, three of them the sons-in-law of `Abdu'l-Bahá]...The Chairman of this Committee, to be soon elected by its members, with the signature of Bahiyyih Khanum has my authority to transact any affairs that may need to be considered and decided during my absence. I regret exceedingly to be unable to see you before my departure, that I may express more adequately the satisfaction that I feel to know that your sense of justice will safeguard the interests of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh whenever called upon to act."

The cordial relations between Symes and Shoghi Effendi and the esteem he evidently had for the character of the Governor are reflected in the letter he wrote to him upon his return: "It is my pleasant duty to inform you of my return to the Holy Land after a prolonged period of rest and meditation and of my assumption of my official functions", and he went on to say: "I had felt after the passing of my beloved Grandfather too exhausted, overwhelmed

Page 277

and sorrowful to be able to conduct efficiently the affairs of the Bahá'í Movement. Now that I feel again restored and refreshed and in a position to resume my arduous duties, I wish to express to you on this occasion my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the sympathetic consideration you have shown towards the Movement during my absence." The letter contains, in the next paragraph, an unusual warmth of feeling: "It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to be enabled to renew my acquaintance with you and Mrs. Symes which I am confident will in the course of time grow into warm and abiding friendship." Shoghi Effendi ended it with his "kind regards and best wishes" and simply signed it "Shoghi". The exchange of correspondence with Colonel Symes - who later was knighted, and became Governor General of the sudan before and during the second World War - went on for many years, even after his retirement.

In 1927 `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to him: "I take the liberty of enclosing for your information a copy of latest communication addressed to Bahá'ís in Western lands regarding the Egyptian situation...We are greatly heartened by the thought that at a time when we are faced with delicate and perplexing issues, Palestine is under an Administration which is actuated by the highest motives of fairness and justice, and for which we Bahá'ís have every reason to be appreciative and thankful. I am glad the Bahá'í Year Book has interested you..." and again ended by sending kindest regards to him and Mrs Symes. On 27 December 1935 we find Symes (now Sir Stewart) writing to Shoghi Effendi from "The Palace, Khartoum": "Very many thanks for your kind Christmas greetings and for the Book..." and, also from the Sudan, a year later on 9 April 1936: "Thank you for so kindly sending me Volume V of the 'Bahá'í World'. I wish some of the Bahá'í Spirit might be transformed into national and international affairs! I trust all is well with you and your work..."

The last letter from him, in Shoghi Effendi's files, was written in July 1945, and testifies to the permanence of Shoghi Effendi's relationships with people who treated him, and responded to his overtures, with the same warmth and courtesy he was every ready to shower on them. He had learned that the Syme's son had been killed in the war. "My wife and I", Symes wrote, "were much moved by your cable. It was indeed kind of you to remember us in our sorrows..." and ended his long letter to the Guardian: "If you should visit England I hope you will advise us. For it would be a

Page 278

great pleasure to us to meet you again, with kindest remembrances and regards..."

Another official, whose position, though not so high, involved directly the affairs of the Bahá'í Community at its World Centre, was the District Commissioner. During those years when Shoghi Effendi was beginning to seek recognition for the Faith in tangible privileges, Edward Keith-Roach, O.B.E., held this office. Although a man of an entirely different calibre from Colonel Symes he was nevertheless friendly and helpful and seemed to be fond of Shoghi Effendi, whose correspondence with him runs from 1925 to 1939. Keith-Roach, undoubtedly because he knew the higher authorities would approve, was at times very co-operative not only in facilitating and expediting Shoghi Effendi's work, but in making suggestions which the Guardian sometimes carried out. The first copy we find of a letter from Shoghi Effendi to him is so simple and yet so typical of the warmth with which the Guardian invariably responded to other people's overtures when they were made in the right spirit, that I cannot refrain from quoting it. It was dated simply "Haifa, 25-12-25" and said: "My dear Mr. Keith-Roach: I am touched by your welcome message of good-will and greeting and I hasten to assure you that I fully reciprocate the sentiments expressed in your letter. With best wishes for a happy Christmas, I am yours very sincerely, Shoghi Rabbani".

In many of the letters exchanged between Shoghi Effendi and Keith-Roach it is evident that they often met. When Keith-Roach was in hospital in Jerusalem, in 1935, Shoghi Effendi wrote to him: "Many thanks for your letter...I am so glad to hear your health is improving, and I trust you will on your return be able to have tea with me in the newly-extended gardens surrounding the Resting-Place." Throughout Shoghi Effendi's correspondence with both Keith-Roach and Symes there are invitations for them to have tea with him in the gardens on Mt Carmel; in Colonel Symes's case the invitation sometimes included Mrs Symes. It was not only Shoghi Effendi's way of extending some hospitality to these officials, but served to show them, by bringing them into the midst of the Bahá'í property, the latest developments and the most recent extension of the gardens and, I have no doubt, he made use of their presence to point out to them his future plans and seek their sympathetic support. Indeed, many of these appointments were made for that specific purpose.

From the beginning of his Guardianship up into the 1940's, it

Page 279

had been Shoghi Effendi's practice to see officials, engineers, lawyers and other non-Bahá'ís himself in connection with his important business; he did not go to their offices, but met them at their residences or, more often, they either came to his home or he met them on the Shrine properties. An example of what this friendly co-operation led to it shown in the important events that transpired in 1932. On 19 November the monument for the grave of the Greatest Holy Leaf was delivered in the port of Haifa. On the 20th Shoghi Effendi wrote to Keith-Roach: "May I ask your help in connexion with the marble monument which is to be erected above the grave of Shoghi Effendi's sister and which was landed safely at Haifa yesterday afternoon. A subordinate official of the Custom's Department is willing to exempt it from duty if the necessary authorization is granted by higher authorities. I therefore appeal to you and feel confident that you will do all you can to facilitate the entrance into Palestine of a work of art which, in some of its features, may well be regarded as unique in this country. With deepest appreciation and gratitude, Yours very sincerely". On 22 November Shoghi Effendi again wrote to him: "May I offer you my deepest thanks for your kind and prompt response to my request. The monument has been safely delivered, and I have given the necessary instructions for its immediate erection. Thanking you again and with kind regards and best wishes..." The entrance of this monument duty free created a precedent of far-reaching implications, which was to ensure the Faith at its World Centre, in the course of coming decades, a steadily increasing area of exemption, ending in concessions obtained from the State of Israel of a nature which had not been obtainable during the Mandate.

Four days later Shoghi Effendi reminds the District Commissioner of a demand of far greater significance which he had made of him; the whole letter, following as it did immediately upon the two quote above, represents a truly masterly diplomacy - one is tempted to say on the part of both God and Shoghi Effendi - for the Former provided the sequence of events and the latter leapt upon the opportunity they afforded.

Haifa, Nov. 26, 1932
Dear Mr. Keith-Roach:

I am sure you will be interested to learn that I am taking the necessary preliminary steps for the extension of the terraces, forming an integral part of the Shrine, and leading to the German Colony.

Page 280

I have approached the Municipal Engineer and found him very sympathetic and favourable. I intend, therefore, to submit to the Town Planning Commission an official statement of the conditions under which we are prepared to open and extend the terraces, at our own expense and following the general design already adopted.

It is my earnest hope that before the end of the year 1933 the wish that you have expressed, and for the realization of which I will heartily endeavour, will be completely realized.

I am sure that the application which I have recently submitted to you regarding the sacredness of the Mansion at Bahji, which forms an integral part of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, will receive your sympathetic consideration, and that the necessary certificate will be granted for the exemption from custom duty of the articles consigned for that building.

Shoghi Effendi obviously not only kept his District Commissioner fully informed, but kept after him, in a courteous, friendly and masterly way, to secure for the Faith those privileges he believed were its right. And Keith-Roach, having no doubt ascertained that the Administration in Jerusalem was sympathetic towards the work Shoghi Effendi was carrying out, helped him actively, with suggestions and co-operation. Thus we find Shoghi Effendi writing to him, on 2 February 1934, a letter that was one of the major links in the long struggle to exempt Bahá'í properties from taxation:

Dear Mr. Keith-Roach,

In accordance with your suggestion I am enclosing the formal declaration which I have signed as Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith and which I trust will facilitate the exemption from taxation of the area surrounding the international Bahá'í Shrine on Mt. Carmel.

I should be grateful if you would issue the authorization required to exempt from custom duty the gilded ornamental gate which forms a part of the entrance to the tomb of the Greatest Holy Leaf.

I am enclosing the key to the upper gate of the Shrine, which I hope you will use when passing through the Gardens.

Assuring you of my abiding gratitude and heartfelt appreciation of your assistance and sympathetic consideration of the interests of the Bahá'í Community,

I am yours very sincerely,

Three months later, on 10 May, we find the Guardian writing to him again: "I wish to express to you my deepest appreciation of the action you have taken to exempt from taxation the entire area surrounding and dedicated to the international Bahá'í Shrines on Mt.

Page 281

Carmel." One of the great victories in the course of the development of the World Centre had been won.

In another letter, dated 21 June 1935, Shoghi Effendi, in calling Keith-Roach's attention to matters connected with a court case, says: "Any assistance you can find it possible to extend in this respect would, I am sure, be deeply appreciated by me no less than by the various Bahá'í Assemblies whose interests I represent." Throughout his ministry Shoghi Effendi always let it be known very clearly to officials that, although he was the Head of the Faith, behind him stood a great concourse of Bahá'ís in many countries, ready to back up, with all the power they possessed, his claims and demands; and in expressing his thanks, he very often included their sentiments of gratitude and appreciation along with his own.

Although the Guardian did not attend any government receptions or functions, for reasons already stated, he was often willing to call on officials privately. We find him writing to Keith-Roach: "...I should be delighted to have you come to tea tomorrow afternoon at my home, where we could discuss the matter...I can call at the Hospice, if it is more convenient to you, and at any time it will suit you." On 27 December 1936 we find Keith-Roach in a warm letter in his own hand, marked "Personal", thanking Shoghi Effendi for "your much appreciated Christmas greetings which were both fragrant and beautiful." He not only thanked Shoghi Effendi for a gift of flowers, but on many occasions had cause to thank him for various Bahá'í books, which he appreciated receiving. After the Guardian was married, in March 1937, Keith-Roach wrote to him: "May I congratulate your bride and you with real sincerity on your marriage and wish you both a life rich in service of the great task set you by god to carry out. When may I come and call upon you. With deep regard..." This letter, of such a warm personal nature, Shoghi Effendi replied to on the same day he received it, 23 April: "I am deeply touched by the sentiments you have expressed to me on the occasion of my marriage. I greatly value your message of good wishes, and will always remember with feelings of gratitude the assistance you have extended to me in my arduous task. I will be most pleased to welcome you at our home on any day that may be convenient to you. Thanking you most warmly for your message..." Shortly after this Keith-Roach was made District Commissioner of Jerusalem, but the friendly tie remained and a few years later we were congratulating him on his marriage, which he had written us he was contemplating. As we have almost

Page 282

no record whatsoever of Shoghi Effendi's attitude towards non-Bahá'ís with whom he was on a friendly basis, I have referred to his correspondence with Keith-Roach in some detail as it reveals to us another side of the Guardian's many-sided nature.

Immediately upon his return to the Holy Land after the Master's passing, Shoghi Effendi pursued the policy of keeping the authorities informed, locally and particularly at the seat of Government in Jerusalem, not only of his plans, but of his problems and various crises that arose, such as the seizure of the keys of Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine in Bahji and His House in Baghdad, as well as the persecutions and injustices the Faith was suffering. Commencing with his first letter to the High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel, the friend of `Abdu'l-Bahá, written on 16 January 1922, Shoghi Effendi maintained this contact with the government until the end of his life, first with the British and later with the Jewish representatives. When Shoghi Effendi left Palestine, so crushed and ill, in the spring of 1922, he had informed Sir Herbert of the measures he had taken to protect the Cause during his absence; after his return to Haifa on 15 December of that same year, he had wired Sir Herbert on the 19th: "Pray accept my best wishes and kind regards on my return to Holy Land and resumption of my official duties".

In May 1923 we find Shoghi Effendi keeping both the Governor of Haifa and the High Commissioner informed of events, for in a letter to the former he writes that the "Haifa Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly" has been "officially reconstituted and will, in conjunction with me, direct all local affairs in this region. I have lately informed H.E. the High Commissioner of this matter..." The letter he referred to, dated 21 April, had stated that he enclosed a copy of his recent circular letter to the Bahá'í communities in the West, similar to one written in Persian to the Bahá'í communities in the East, "As you had expressed in your last letter tome the desire to learn of the measures that have been taken to provide for the stable organization of the Bahá'í Movement...I shall be only too glad to throw further light on any point which Your Excellency might desire to raise in connection with the enclosed letter, or regarding any other matter bearing upon the interests of the Movement in general."

It is impossible to go into the details of the thirty-six years of Shoghi Effendi's relations with the authorities, first of Palestine and later of Israel. that he succeeded in winning and maintaining their good will, their co-operation in his various undertakings at

Page 283

the World Centre, and their recognition of that Centre as the historic heart of the Bahá'í Faith entitled to enjoy the same rights as other Faiths in the Holy Land - indeed, in some respects to enjoy greater rights - all this in the face of the continuous mischief stirred up by various enemies who, whether overtly or covertly, consistently opposed every step he took is a tribute to the extraordinary wisdom and patience that characterized Shoghi Effendi's leadership of the Cause of God.

When Sir Herbert Samuel's term of office was drawing to a close the Guardian sent to him, on 15 June 1925, one of those messages that so effectively forged links of good will with the government, expressing his own and the Bahá'ís abiding sense of gratitude and deep appreciation of the "kind and noble attitude which Your Excellency has taken towards the various problems that have beset them since the passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá...The Bahá'ís...remembering the acts of sympathy and good will which the Palestine Administration under your guidance has shown them in the past, will confidently endeavour to contribute their full share to the material prosperity as well as the spiritual advancement of a land so sacred and precious to them all." Sir Herbert replied to this letter in the following terms: "...I have been happy during my five years of office to maintain very friendly relations with the Bahá'í Community in Palestine and much appreciate the good will which they have always shown towards the Administration and to myself."

When, in 1929, there was an outbreak of trouble in Palestine, we find the Guardian writing to the then High Commissioner, Sir John Chanallor, on 10 September a highly significant letter:

Your Excellency:

I have learned with profound regret of the lamentable occurrences in Palestine, and hasten, while away from home, to offer Your Excellency my heartfelt sympathy in the difficult task with which you are faced.

The Bahá'í Community of Palestine, who, by reason of the Faith, are deeply attached to its soil truly deplore these violent outbursts of religious fanaticism, and venture to hope that, as the influence of Bahá'í ideals extends and deepens, they may be enabled in the days to come to lend increasing assistance to your Administration for the promotion of the spirit of good will and toleration among the religious communities in the Holy Land.

I feel moved to offer Your Excellency in their behalf the enclosed sum as their contribution for the relief of the suffering and needy, irrespective of race or creed...

Page 284

It was during that same year of 1929, that Shoghi Effendi, through the instrumentality of a formal petition to the government made by the Bahá'í Community of Haifa on 4 May, succeeded in obtaining for it permission to administer according to Bahá'í law the affairs of the Community in such matters of personal status as marriage, thus placing it, in this regard, on an equal footing with the Jewish, Muslim and Christian Communities in Palestine. Shoghi Effendi hailed this as "an act of tremendous significance and wholly unprecedented in the history of the Faith in any country". The Guardian's own exclusively Bahá'í marriage was registered and became legal as a result of this recognition he had won for the Faith.

One of the men who occupied the important office of High Commissioner during these years when the Cause was beginning to win in such tangible ways recognition for its independent status, was Sir Arthur Wauchope, a man who, like Colonel Symes, had a personal liking for Shoghi Effendi and who, one suspects, understood how heavy the burden was the rested on the shoulders of the young man who was the Head of the Bahá'í Faith. It was during the period of his administration - which partly coincided with the time Keith-Roach was District Commissioner in Haifa - that some of the greatest victories in winning concessions from the authorities took place, the most important of these, next to the right of the Community to obey some of its own laws governing personal status, being the exemption from taxation of the entire area surrounding the Shrine of The Báb on Mt Carmel. Unlike most High Commissioners, Sir Arthur seems to have met Shoghi Effendi personally as he refers to this in some of his letters.

In one of them, dated 26 June 1933, Sir Arthur states: "I have received your letter of 21st June and I hasten to write to thank you for it and to assure you that when the case which you mention is referred to me for a decision under the Palestine (Holy Places) Order in Council, it will receive my most careful consideration. I have also received the 'Bahá'í World' for 1930-32. I am most grateful to you for this extremely interesting book...I hop to have the pleasure of another visit to the beautiful Gardens on the hillside outside Haifa."

On 13 March 1934 Shoghi Effendi wrote to him: "...As the case recently referred to Your Excellency concerning the Bahá'í Shrines on Mt. Carmel has vital international importance, I have asked Mr. " to come to Palestine to confer with me about it. I would

Page 285

greatly appreciate Your Excellency's kindly according him an interview in order to clarify one or two points which I do not quite understand and upon which my future action in this matter depends." On 1 May of that same year Shoghi Effendi again wrote to him: "I deeply appreciated the kind message of sympathy and support for the projected plan of the Bahá'í Community to beautify the slopes of Mt. Carmel which you sent to me through Mr. " . It greatly encouraged me. Unfortunately there are strong and influential interests that are seeking to obstruct the plan. These are in part merely real estate speculators who, in their short-sightedness, are doing their utmost to develop the northern slope of Mt. Carmel for their immediate benefit. More difficult and dangerous for our plan however are those who definitely seek to frustrate the efforts of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in anything that they may undertake. We believe that these people were back of the case brought against us by the Domets [Dumits], for example, and it was for that reason that we felt justified in our endeavour to have it withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the courts and submitted to Your Excellency's personal consideration...With kind regards and renewed expression of my warm appreciation of Your Excellency's sympathy and support..." The case in question, which involved four years of litigation, was finally abandoned and in 1935 a contract for the purchase of the Dumit land was signed and Shoghi Effendi cabled the National Assembly in America that he was planning to register it in the name of their Palestine Branch. It is interesting to note that to the Bahá'ís he transliterated the name, but not to the High Commissioner.

Shoghi Effendi had been endeavouring for some time to obtain exemption from taxation on Bahá'í properties surrounding The Báb's Shrine and had finally received news this had been granted. Behind the formal lines of this letter to Sir Arthur, written on 11 May 1934, his inner jubilation over this victory can be sensed:

Your Excellency,

The gratifying news has just come to me from the District Commissioner at Haifa that the petition for exemption from taxation of the Bahá'í property holdings on Mt. Carmel has been granted by the Government.

I hasten to express to Your Excellency for the World Bahá'í Community and myself our deep appreciation of the sympathetic and effective interest which Your Excellency has taken in the matter and which I know must have contributed in large measure to this

Page 286

outcome. An I venture to hope for the continuation of Your Excellency's sympathetic support in our plan to gradually beautify this property for the sue and enjoyment of the people of Haifa, for which this action of the Government now opens the way.

To this letter Sir Arthur replied in person, five days later:

Dear Shoghi Effendi,

Thank you for your letter of May 11th and the kind words it contains. I have always had great sympathy with your projects for beautifying the slopes of Mt. Carmel and I hope this exemption will help you in carrying on your fine work.

Yours very sincerely,
Arthur Wauchope

In another letter the High commissioner wrote: "I am most grateful to you for your kind present of the 'Dawn Breakers'. I shall read the book with much interest, for you know how the wonderful story stirred me when I first heard it in Persia. The book is charmingly produced and the illustrations and reproductions add to its attraction. Again with very many thanks for your kind thoughts and welcome gift..." There are similar letters thanking the Guardian for Gleanings and The Bahá'í World. the last letter, written in February 1938, by this man, who through his high office assisted Shoghi Effendi in winning a major victory at the World Centre of the Faith, was typical of his courteous kindness: "...I had every intention of visiting you in Haifa,where I hoped to see the progress you had made with your garden and say good-bye in person. Unfortunately the many calls on my time...made this impossible, so I take this opportunity of bidding you farewell and expressing my best wishes to the Bahá'í community." At the bottom of the letter he added hand "I hear your garden is growing more beautiful every year."

At the time when the Mandate drew to its close and the troubled people of Palestine were preparing to fight it out, the United Nations appointed a Special Committee on Palestine, headed by Justice Emil Sandstrom. On 9 July he wrote to Shoghi Effendi from Jerusalem, stating that under the terms of reference of this committee it was charged with giving most careful consideration to the religious interests in Palestine of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and goes on to say "I should appreciate it if you would advise me whether you wish to submit evidence - in a written statement on the religious interests of your Community in Palestine." Because

Page 287

of the historic importance to Bahá'ís of Shoghi Effendi's reply to this letter I quote it in full:

14th July 1947
Mr. Justice Sandstrom,
United Nations Special Committee on Palestine

Your kind letter of July 9th reached me and I wish to thank you for affording me the opportunity of presenting to you and your esteemed colleagues a statement of the relationship which the Bahá'í Faith has to Palestine and our attitude towards any future changes in the status of this sacred and much disputed land.

I am enclosing with this letter, for your information, a brief sketch of the history, aims and significance of the Bahá'í Faith, as well as a small pamphlet setting forth its views towards the present state of the world and the lines on which we hope and believe it must and will develop.

The position of the Bahá'ís in this country is in a certain measure unique: whereas Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Christendom it is not the administrative center of either the Church of Rome or any other Christian denomination. Likewise although it is regarded by Moslems as the spot where one of its most sacred shrines is situated, the Holy Sites of the Muhammadan Faith, and the center of its pilgrimages, are to be found in Arabia, not in Palestine. the Jews alone offer somewhat of a parallel to the attachment which the Bahá'ís have for this country inasmuch as Jerusalem holds the remains of their Holy Temple and was the seat of both the religious and political institutions associated with their past history. But even their case differs in one respect from that of the Bahá'ís, for it is in the soil of Palestine that the three central Figures of our religion are buried, and it is not only the center of Bahá'í pilgrimages from all over the world but also the permanent seat of our Administrative Order, of which I have the honor to be the Head.

The Bahá'í Faith is entirely non-political and we neither take sides in the present tragic dispute going on over the future of the Holy Land and its peoples nor have we any statement to make or advice to give as to what the nature of the political future of this country should be. Our aim is the establishment of universal peace in this world and our desire to see justice prevail in every domain of human society, including the domain of politics. As many of the adherents of our Faith are of Jewish and Moslem extraction we have no prejudice towards either of these groups and are most anxious to reconcile them for their mutual benefit and for the good of the country.

What does concern us, however, in any decisions made affecting

Page 288

the future of Palestine, is that the fact be recognized by whoever exercises sovereignty over Haifa and Acre, that within this area exists the spiritual and administrative center of a world Faith, and that the independence of that Faith, its right to manage its international affairs from this source, the right of Bahá'ís from any and every country of the globe to visit it as pilgrims (enjoying the same privilege in this respect as jews, Moslems and Christians do in regard to visiting Jerusalem), be acknowledged and permanently safeguarded.

The Sepulchre of The Báb on Mt. Carmel, the Tomb of `Abdu'l-Bahá in that same spot, the Pilgrim Hostel for oriental Bahá'ís in its vicinity, the large gardens and terraces which surround these places (all of which are open to visits by the public of all denominations), the Pilgrim Hostel for western Bahá'ís at the foot of Mt. Carmel, the residence of the Head of the Community, various houses and gardens in Acre and its vicinity associated with Bahá'u'lláh's incarceration in that city, His Holy Tomb at Bahji, near Acre, with His Mansion which is now preserved as a historic site and a museum (both likewise accessible to the public of all denominations), as well as holdings in the plain of Acre - all these comprise the bulk of Bahá'í properties in the Holy Land. It should also be noted that practically all of these properties have been exempted from both Government and Municipal taxes owing to their religious nature. Some of these extensive holdings are the property of the Palestine Branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, incorporated as a religious society according to the laws of the country. In future various other Bahá'í National Assemblies will hold, through their Palestine Branches, part of the International Endowments of the Faith in the Holy Land.

In view of the above information I would request you and the members of your Committee to take into consideration the safeguarding of Bahá'í rights in any recommendation which you may make to the United Nations concerning the future of Palestine.

May I take this opportunity of assuring you of my deep appreciation of the spirit in which you and your colleagues have conducted your investigations into the troubled conditions of this Sacred Land. I trust and pray that the outcome of your deliberations will produce an equitable and speedy solution of the very thorny problems which have arisen in Palestine.

Yours faithfully,
Shoghi Rabbani

It must be remembered that the only oriental notable of any standing whatsoever who had not fled from Palestine before the War of Independence was Shoghi Effendi. This fact was not lost upon the authorities of the new State. By acts such as this, the

Page 289

Guardian had succeeded in impressing upon non-Bahá'ís, who had no reason whatever to take him on faith alone, the sterling personal integrity and strict adherence to what he believed was the right course that characterized his leadership of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. Largely because of this and a knowledge of what the Bahá'í Teachings represented, of which the avant garde of the Jewish Movement for independence were well aware, the new authorities were extremely co-operative in every way. One of their first acts, when the fighting was still going on, had been to place a notice on the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh - much more isolated than the Shrines in Haifa - stating that it was a Lieu Sainte or "Holy Place", thus ensuring that it would be treated with respect by all Jews.

However, the same old problem of how to maintain his position on formal occasions faced the Guardian under the new State as had faced him under the old administration. In January 1949 Mr Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister of the Provisional Government, came to Haifa on his first official visit and the Mayor naturally invited Shoghi Effendi to attend the reception being given in his honour by the Municipality. The dilemma was acute, for if the Guardian did not go, it would, with every reason, be taken as an affront to the new Government, and if he did go he would inevitably be submerged in a sea of people where any pretence at protocol would be swept away (this was indeed the case, as my father, Shoghi Effendi's representative, reported after he returned from this reception). The Guardian therefore decided that as he would not be attending, but was more than willing to show courtesy to the Prime Minister of the new State, he would call upon him in person. With great difficulty this was arranged through the good offices of the Mayor of Haifa, Shabatay Levy, as Mr Ben Gurion's time in Haifa was very short and it was only two days before the first general election in the new State.

The interview took place on Friday evening, 21 January, in the private home the Prime Minister was staying in on Mt Carmel and lasted about fifteen minutes. Ben Gurion inquired about the Faith and Shoghi Effendi's relation to it and asked if there was a book he could read; Shoghi Effendi answered his questions and assured him he would send him a copy of his own book God Passes By - which he later did, and which was acknowledged with thanks.

Typical of the whole history of the Cause and the constant problems that beset it was a long article which appeared in the leading

Page 290

English-language newspaper on 20 December 1948, in which, in the most favourable terms, it teachings were set forth and the station of Shoghi Effendi as its World Head mentioned. On 28 January 1949 there appeared in the letter column of this paper a short and extraordinary statement, signed "Bahá'í U.N. Observer", which flatly refuted the article and asserted "Mr. Rabbani is not the Guardian of the Bahá'í faith, nor its World Leader" and gave the New History Society in New York as a source of further information. As there was no such thing as a "Bahá'í U.N. Observer" this move was plainly inspired by the once-more hopeful band of old Covenant-breakers, who sought, at the outset of a new regime, to blacken Shoghi Effendi's reputation and divert attention form his station by referring to Ahmad Sohrab's rootless group in America. At a later date, when in 1952 the Covenant-breakers in Bahji brought their case in the local courts against Shoghi Effendi for the demolition of an old building near the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, Sohrab sought, unsuccessfully, to bring pressure on the Minister of Religious Affairs to discredit the Bahá'í claims. It was with attacks such as this, both open and covert, that the Guardian, on the threshold of a new phase in the development of the affairs of the Faith at its World Centre, once more had to contend.

The cordiality of the authorities towards Shoghi Effendi and the Bahá'í Faith is reflected in many communications. but it was not only a question of words; tangible evidences of the State's recognition of the status of the Faith at its international headquarters was also forthcoming.

It had long been the desire of Shoghi Effendi to obtain control of the Mansion at Mazra'ih, where Bahá'u'lláh had first lived when He quitted once for all the walls of the prison-city of Akka. this property was a Muslim religious endowment and had now fallen vacant. It was planned by the government to turn it into a rest home for officials. All efforts, through the departments concerned, to procure this property were unavailing until Shoghi Effendi appealed directly to Ben Gurion, explaining its significance to the Bahá'ís and his desire to have it visited by pilgrims as a place so closely associated with Bahá'u'lláh. The Prime Minister himself then intervened in the matter and it was leased to the Bahá'ís as an historic site. Shoghi Effendi proudly informed the Bahá'í world, on 16 December 1950, that its keys had been delivered to us, by the Israeli authorities, after the lapse of more than fifty years.

Page 291

The affairs of the Bahá'í Community, in matters concerning its day-to-day dealings with the government in connection with the work at the World Centre, had been placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and was at first handled by the head of the Department that dealt with Muslim affairs. This Shoghi Effendi violently objected to as it implied the Faith was in same way identified with Islam. After much negotiation a letter was received from the Minister of Religious Affairs, dated 13 December 1953, addressed to "His Eminence, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, World Head of the Bahá'í Faith" in which he said:

...I am pleased to inform you of my decision to establish in our Ministry a separate Department for the Bahá'í Faith. I hope that his department will be of assistance to you in matters concerning the Bahá'í Centre in our State.

In the name of the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the State of Israel, I wish to assure You Eminence that full protection will be given to the Holy Places as well as to the World Centre of the Bahá'í Faith.

This victory was all the more welcome, following as it did the previously mentioned court case against Shoghi Effendi brought on a technicality by the Covenant-breakers in connection with the demolition of a house adjoining the Shrine and Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji. Never tired of seeking to publicly humiliate and discredit the Head of the Faith, be it `Abdu'l-Bahá or the Guardian, they had had the temerity to summon Shoghi Effendi to appear in court as a witness. Once more, greatly concerned for the honour of the Cause at its World Centre, Shoghi Effendi appealed direct to the Prime Minister, sending as his representatives the President, Secretary-General and Member-at-Large of the International Bahá'í Council (whom he had summoned from Italy for this purpose) to Jerusalem on more than one visit to press the strategy he himself had devised. These representations were successful and on the grounds of its being a purely religious issue it was removed by the Government from the jurisdiction of the civil courts. As soon as the plaintiffs found their plan to humiliate Shoghi Effendi had been forestalled, they were willing to settle the case by negotiation. That the authorities and the Bahá'í Community were equally pleased by this conclusion of the matter is shown in these letters written to the Guardian by members of the Prime Minister's staff - two men to whom the Faith owed much for their sympathetic efforts on its behalf at that time:

Page 292
Jerusalem, 19th May, 1952.
His Eminence Shoghi Rabbani
World Head of the Bahá'í Faith,
Your Eminence,

I am instructed to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 16th May addressed to the Prime Minister.

As you are no doubt aware, the dispute between yourself as the World Head of the Bahá'í Faith and members of the family of the founder of the Faith has found its solution and there is no need, therefore, to take any administrative action in order to solve the problem

May I express to you our gratitude for your wise and benevolent attitude taken in the dispute which enabled us to impose a just and, we hope, a lasting solution on the dissident group?

The Prime Minister assures you of his personal esteem and sends you his best wishes.

Your sincerely,
S. Eynath
Legal Adviser

The second letter was from Walter Eytan, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was written to Shoghi Effendi the follow day. In it he says:

...Having done my best throughout to be of assistance to Your Eminence in the solution of these vexing problems, I heard with great satisfaction this morning that complete agreement had been reached. I sincerely trust that this puts an end to a period of anxiety for Your Eminence and the members of the Bahá'í Faith, and that you will now be able to proceed with your plans without further interference from any quarter.

In letters such as these, from the President down, it is significant to note that they address Shoghi Effendi as "His Eminence", a title which, though still far below what his position merited, was the one that had been introduced in the earliest days of his ministry, but never really used by any officials until the formation of the Jewish State.

The cordial nature of the relations established between the Guardian and the officials of the State of Israel encouraged Shoghi Effendi to ascertain if the President would care to visit the Bahá'í

Page 293

Shrine in Haifa; when word was received that he would accept such an invitation, Shoghi Effendi formally invited him to do so and arrangements were made for the morning of 26 April 1954, at which time, the Director of the President's Office wrote to Shoghi Effendi, the President would "be pleased to pay you an official visit". Accordingly the president and his wife arrived at the home of the Master, attended by two officials, partook of light refreshment and were presented by the Guardian with a Persian album, painted with miniatures and bound in silver, containing some photographs of the Shrines, as a memento of their visit. The Presidential party, with Shoghi Effendi and those who accompanied him, then proceeded to the gardens on Mt Carmel. It was the first time in the history of the Cause that the Head of an independent nation had ever made an official visit of this kind and constituted another milestone in the development of the World Centre of the Faith. The President and his companions showed the greatest respect to the Shrine of The Báb, removing their shoes as we did, before entering it, the men keeping their hats on out of reverence as Jews for a holy place; it was very moving moment to see President Ben Zvi standing beside Shoghi Effendi, the former with his European hat, the latter with his simple black fez, before the threshold. After a few words of explanation from Shoghi Effendi we all withdrew and walked about the gardens for a few minutes before saying good-bye in front of the Oriental Pilgrim House where the President's car was awaiting him.

On 29 April the President wrote personally to the Guardian: "I should like to express my thanks for your kind hospitality and for the interesting time I spent with you visiting the beautiful Gardens and remarkable Shrine...I do appreciate the friendship which the Bahá'í Community has for Israel and it is my sincere hope that we may all live to see the strengthening of amity between all peoples on earth." On 5 May the Guardian replied to this letter in equally warm terms: "...It was a pleasure to meet Your Excellency and Mrs. Ben Zvi, and be able to show you one of our places of Bahá'í pilgrimage in Israel...If it suits your convenience, Mrs. Rabbani and I, accompanied by Mr. Ioas, would like to call upon Your Excellency and Mrs. Ben Zvi in Jerusalem..." The time for this return call was set for the afternoon of 26 May and we had tea and a pleasant conversation with the President and his wife, in her own way as much a personality as her husband and equally nice. In the interim between these two visits Shoghi Effendi had sent to the

Page 294

President some Bahá'í books which he had promised him and these had been acknowledged with the thanks of the President and the assurance that he would read them with great interest. Ever meticulous in all matters, Shoghi Effendi wrote on 3 June to the President: "I wish to thank you and Mrs. Ben Zvi for your kin hospitality. Mrs. Rabbani and I enjoyed our visit with you very much, and I feel sure that this opportunity we have had of visiting with you our Bahá'í Holy Places and calling upon you in the capital of Israel has served to reinforce the bonds of affection and esteem which unite the Bahá'ís to the people and Government of Israel. With kind regards to you and Mrs. Ben Zvi..." Thus ended another memorable chapter in the process of winning recognition for the Faith at its World Centre.

Although the major affairs of the World Centre had usually to be handled in Jerusalem with the highest officials, much of its work needed to be transacted with the help of the municipal officials in both Akka and Haifa - particularly the latter. It is an interesting fact that of the many dealings with Haifa municipal engineers which the Bahá'í Community had over the years the first was in the days of `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself when a Dr Ciffrin had submitted to Him his design for a monumental staircase and cypress avenue leading from the old Templar Colony at the foot of Mt Carmel up to The Báb's Shrine. The Master had not only approved of this scheme but had granted land for its realization and headed the list of subscribers to the "Báb's Monumental Stairway", as the project was called, by contributing 100 [pounds].

Aside from the struggle on Shoghi Effendi's part, carried on shrewdly and persistently, to win concessions from municipal officials as well as recognition of the unique status of the Bahá'í Faith in both Haifa and Akka - the twin cities harbouring its World Centre - he maintained a friendly and co-operative relationship with the Mayor of Haifa in respect to many municipal undertakings, not the least of which was the support he gave the authorities - either the Municipality, or in the early days, the District Commissioner - when there was some special need for financial help in charitable work.

Nothing could better describe Shoghi Effendi's attitude and policy in such matters than the letter he wrote, on 7 February 1923, so early in his ministry, to Colonel Symes: "I have just heard of the Charity Ball which Mrs. Symes is organizing to aid the poor of Haifa. Realizing how their cause was consistently upheld by my

Page 295

beloved Grandfather, and it being my earnest endeavour to follow in his footsteps, I beg to enclose the sum of 20 [pounds] - as a contribution to the fund...I trust you have had a very enjoyable time in Egypt, and hoping to meet you and Mrs. Symes in the near future..." The same sentiment is expressed with equal feeling two years later in another letter to Colonel Symes: "The perusal of your circular letter of February 16th, 1925 with reference to the establishment of the Haifa Charitable Fund has served to remind me of the keen interest `Abdu'l-Bahá took in charitable institutions. Animated by the same sentiment and desirous to walk in the footsteps of my beloved Grandfather, I hasten to enclose herewith the sum of 20 [pounds] - towards the relief of the sufferings of the poor in Haifa."

Whenever calamity overtook the people, Shoghi Effendi responded warmly to the need. In April 1926 he wrote to the Commissioner of the Northern District: "Fully aware of the intense suffering caused by recent disturbances, and mindful of the loving care bestowed by `Abdu'l-Bahá on the suffering and needy, I take great pleasure in enclosing the sum of 30 [pounds] - as my contribution towards the relief of the poor and shelterless...I shall be grateful if you will let me know from time to time if any such need arises, in whatever place and on behalf of whatever denomination." In 1927 we find him again responding to disaster by sending the Secretariat of the Government in Jerusalem 100 [pounds] as his contribution to the Earthquake Relief Fund. Over the years, in large or in small amounts, he followed the ways of the Master who had been called "the Father of the Poor".

That these contributions to various causes were warmly received is self-evident: the District Commissioner for the Northern District thanks Shoghi Effendi, in 1934, for his "most generous contribution towards the relief of distress in Tiberias" and also for his "message of sympathy which I will convey to District Commissioner of Tiberias". In 1950 we find the Chairman of the Haifa Municipal Commission, the Mayor, thanking Shoghi Effendi for the 500 [pounds] "being your Eminence's general contribution for the relief of the poor in Haifa, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Martyrdom of The Báb." Almost invariably, when forwarding such contributions, the Guardian would add that they were to "be distributed equally among the needy members of all communities, irrespective of their race or religion."

The general policy of the Faith in matters of charity was made abundantly clear by a letter he wrote to the Mayor of Haifa, on

Page 296

7 May 1929, in which he acknowledges receiving his circular related to the prevention mendicancy in the city of Haifa and states: "Fortunately, this is a problem which does not affect the Bahá'í Community, as under our laws begging is strictly prohibited. I appreciate, however, the importance and timeliness of the measure you are considering and take pleasure in enclosing a cheque to your order for 50 [pounds] - in behalf of the Bahá'í Community in anticipation of any plan that the Municipality may devise for the alleviation of poverty and the help of the needy in Haifa. You may be assured that the Community will rigidly observe any regulations that may be put into effect."

In the years when the people of Palestine and, later, of Israel were undergoing great hardships, between 1940 and 1952 alone, the Guardian gave the Municipality of Haifa over ten thousand dollars for the poor of all denominations. In addition to such help given through government and municipal agencies he also responded to the appeals of many charities, gave individually to those he deemed worthy, and, even sometimes contributed money for some special purpose connected with the mosque in Haifa. Many times he gave contributions spontaneously, such as the 100 he [pounds] donated to the Government Lunatic Asylum in Akka - the former Turkish barracks - when the room occupied by Bahá'u'lláh was turned over to the custody of the Bahá'ís, and the sum he presented towards the construction of the Institute of Physics which the Weizmann National Memorial was undertaking.

But this was not the only way in which he demonstrated to the local authorities his good will. Whatever demands were made of him he usually found he was in a position to respond to them most cordially. An example of this is an exchange of correspondence with Aba Khoushy, the Mayor of Haifa, which took place in 1952. A country-wide Symposium on Problems of Illumination was to take place at the Hebrew Technical College in Haifa and would coincide with the Jewish Feast of Hanukka, the Feast of Lights. His Worship in a letter to Shoghi Effendi informed him of this and wrote that: "I should be grateful if you too could share in our efforts to make this conference a success and would kindly issue instructions to have the beautiful Shrine of your Faith, on the Carmel slopes, illuminated festively during the week of Dec. 12 - Dec. 19, 1952, inclusively." As usual, whenever he was approached courteously, Shoghi Effendi responded warmly. On 7 December he wrote to the Mayor:

Page 297
Your Worship:

Your letter of November 30th has been received by me on my return from Bahji, and I wish to assure you that the Bahá'í Community will be happy to co-operate in making the city of Haifa luminous and beautiful, in connection with the Symposium to be held at the Hebrew Technical College on Problems of Illumination, especially so as this Symposium will be held during Hanukka.

I will give instructions that the period of illumination of our Shrine should be extended during these days [the Shrine was always flood-lit every night at sunset for a short time], and wish also to extend through your Worship an invitation to the delegates and visitors attending the Symposium to enter the Shrine and gardens on one of the evenings when they will be touring our city, to enjoy the illumination. The necessary arrangements can be made to open the gates and Shrine for them, if we are informed in advance.

Yours sincerely,
Shoghi Rabbani
World Head of the Bahá'í Faith

Another significant example of the spirit in which Shoghi Effendi responded to worthy causes pressed upon his attention is the co-operation he gave the Akka District Commissioner when in 1943 he wrote to him that he could find no place to house a children's school and would he consider leasing eight rooms in the house of 'Abbud (a large building and a place of Bahá'í pilgrimage) for this purpose? Shoghi Effendi permitted the school to use some of the rooms, but said he would not take any payment for them.

Page 298

During the years when the Guardian was building up not only the material, tangible assets of the Faith at its World Centre but winning for it the recognition of both the government of the country in which that Centre was situated and the municipal authorities in whose city its chief institutions were to have their permanent headquarters, he was performing at the same time a similar function abroad. Years later he defined what this had been: a triple, worldwide effort to demonstrate the independent character of the Faith, to enlarge its limits and to swell the number of its supporters. In order, however, to accomplish this he had to have instruments and those instruments, so clearly provided for the in the teachings, were the local and National Assemblies, the building blocks of its Administrative Order. It is interesting to note that Shoghi Effendi, in a letter to non-Baha'i, in 1941, clearly defines his relationship to this all-important work: "...The Administrative Order which I, as the responsible interpreter appointed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, have laboured to expound and accordance with the explicit instructions written by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will..."; evidently not satisfied that he had stated it sufficiently unambiguously he goes on in this letter to rephrase it, saying he had been "empowered and called upon" to establish it.

Although Shoghi Effendi very seldom mentioned himself - indeed very seldom in his general messages ever used the pronoun "I" - the powers conferred upon him in the Will and Testament were such that without them the Bahá'í Administrative Order could never have been built, the Bahá'í World Community as we know it today never brought into being, the foundations of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh never laid. As the institutions of the Cause locally and nationally multiplied and its fabric grew stronger,

Page 299

the Guardian's true position became more evident not only to those older Bahá'ís who had always recognized it, but to the many new and often inexperienced believers who had not yet grasped its true significance and implications. There is one letter in which he was forced, in order to protect the Cause, to set forth his own administrative powers; it was written in reply to a singularly imperceptive letter from the Secretary of a National Assembly, to which, most exceptionally, he did not append any postscript in his own hand but merely added: "Read and approved, Shoghi". This letter stated:

Just as the N.S.A. has full jurisdiction over all its Local Assemblies, the Guardian has full jurisdiction over all National Assemblies; he is not required to consul them, if he believers a certain decision is advisable in the interest of the Cause. He is the judge of the wisdom and advisability of the decision made by these bodies, and not they of the wisdom and advisability of his decisions. A perusal of the Will and Testament makes this principle quite clear. He is the Guardian of the Cause in the very fullness of that term, and the appointed interpreter of the Teachings, and is guided in his decisions to do that which protects it and fosters its good and highest interest.

He always has the right to step in and countermand the decisions of an N.S.A.; if he did not possess this right he would be absolutely impotent to protect the Faith, just as the N.S.A., if it were divested of the right to countermand the decisions of a Local Assembly, would be incapable of watching over and guiding the national welfare of the Bahá'í community.

It very seldom happens - but it nevertheless "does happen - that he feels impelled to change a major (as you put it) decision of an N.S.A.; but he always unhesitatingly does so when necessary, and the N.S.A. in questions should gladly and unhesitatingly accept this as a measure designed for the good of the Faith which its elected representatives are so devotedly seeking to serve.

It is not surprising to find that Shoghi Effendi characterized the period of the Faith that was ushered in after `Abdu'l-Bahá'í ascension as the "Iron Age", "the Age of Transition", "the Formative Period". It was the Age in which the institutions of the Cause, whether national, local or international were being created, institutions which, the Guardian said, constitute the embryonic pattern that needs must evolve, during the Golden Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, into a World Commonwealth. The "world vitalizing spirit" of the Faith, he wrote, had reached the point where it was ready to "incarnate itself in institutions designed to

Page 300

canalize its outspreading energies and stimulate its growth." the principles governing the Administrative Order established in the Will and Testament were defined by him during the first years of his ministry in a flood of letters to the believers all over the world in which he made clear the functions of Assemblies, their fields of jurisdiction and - what was still more essential - the spirit that must animate them if they were to fulfil their purpose in the immediate future.

The administrative institutions may be likened to the veins and arteries of the body that carry in their network the vital flow of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings to all parts of the world; through their instrumentality a recreated society, "that Christ-promised Kingdom, that World Order whose generative impulse is none other than Bahá'u'lláh Himself, whose dominion is the entire planet, whose watchword is unity, whose animating power is the force of Justice, whose directive purpose is the reign of righteousness and truth, and whose supreme glory is the complete, the undisturbed and everlasting felicity of the whole of human kind", can be brought into being.

After defining the purely mechanical technique of how Assemblies should be elected and conduct their business, the Guardian's early admonitions to them often dealt with the subject of unity; if the "watchword" of the future society was going to be "unity" it was obviously essential it should assiduously cultivated amongst the Bahá'ís themselves. In 1923 he wrote to one of the local Assemblies: "Full harmony and understanding among the friends, outside and within the Spiritual Assembly; implicit confidence on the part of the non-members in every decision passed by their elected representatives; and the determination of these to disregard their likes and dislikes and seek naught but the general interests of the Movement - these constitute the only and sure foundation upon which any constructive work can be built in future and prove serviceable to the interests of the Cause." His letters to National Assemblies were no less emphatic, as witness these excerpts from two written during 1925: "The prime requisite, however, of every undertaking in which the friends may engage is the maintenance of a spirit of unsullied fellowship and whole-hearted and loyal co-operation... the spirit of true Bahá'í fellowship - the only remover of our many perplexities in life, the one solvent of those inevitable problems that we shall encounter in the course of our labours for our beloved Cause." "An active, united, and harmonious National

Page 301

Spiritual Assembly, property and conscientiously elected, vigorously functioning, alert and conscious of its many and pressing responsibilities, in close and continuous contact with the international centre in the Holy Land, and keenly watchful of every development throughout the length and breadth of its ever-expanding field of work - is surely in this day of urgent necessity and paramount importance, for it is the cornerstone on which the edifice of Divine Administration must ultimately rest."

Slowly, patiently, with infinite love and understanding, Shoghi Effendi educated the Assemblies, East and West, in how to conduct the affairs of the Cause of God on a proper basis, in accordance with the teachings. The members of these truly nascent institutions, like children, were prone to sometimes having rows amongst themselves; but these were not allowed by the Guardian to place the interests of the Faith itself in danger. On one such occasion, when a prominent national body, tired of one of its members, had voted him off it, Shoghi Effendi cabled them a strong warning that this could have "world-wide repercussions inflict irreparable injury Cause Bahá'u'lláh" and said the membership of the person in question should be retained and all criticism and discussion dropped and forgotten as it would "impair undivided authority institution National Assembly".

The handling of this case was not unusual; the Guardian well knew that the world, the believers and the Assemblies were still very immature; the administration of "justice" - in itself a highly involved subject - presupposes some degree of maturity, of experience, of deep knowledge of the teachings on the part of those concerned with it. It also takes a great deal of time. Over and over, during his entire ministry, the Guardian refused to arbitrate cases referred to him and urged those concerned to rise above the situation, to forget the past and forgive, to concentrate on the urgent, the paramount needs of the Faith, which were to fulfil the goals of its current Plans and spread its healing message to all mankind. Of course in cases of divorce or disputes on financial matters and other tangible issues the believers were advised to refer to their Assemblies and he urged those bodies to investigate and come to a decision; indeed, as the administrative bodies gradually matured over the years, he encouraged the Bahá'ís to refer to them their problems for solution, so that both the Bahá'ís and the Assemblies could gain in experience and learn to implement the marvellous Order of Bahá'u'lláh in their personal and community life; but

Page 302

nevertheless, in instances where plain inharmony, backbiting and mutual distrust had created the situation, he always called upon the friends to rise above it for the good of the Cause. His admonitions and appeals on such occasions were like a cool hand placed on a fevered brow, calming and comforting the angry and distressed contestants, soothing them until they were ready to let their essential love for their Faith flood back into their hearts and heal their wounds.

No sooner had Shoghi Effendi got national bodies properly elected and functioning - in those countries where such a step was possible - than he set about putting these bodies on an unequivocal, clear legal basis. Through his encouragement one of the great milestones in Bahá'í history was set up in 1927, five years after he had begun to function as Guardian of the Faith. That milestone was no less than "the drafting and adoption of a Bahá'í National constitution, first framed and promulgated by the elected representatives of the American Bahá'í Community". He has described this as the initial step in "the unification of the Bahá'í World Community and the consolidation of its Administrative Order" and said it was "a worthy and faithful exposition of the constitutional basis of Bahá'í Communities in every land, foreshadowing the final emergence of the World Bahá'í Commonwealth of the future."

This document became the "charter" for all National Assemblies, was translated into such major languages in use throughout the Bahá'í world as Persian, Arabic, French, German and Spanish, and its provision - based on those guiding lines Shoghi Effendi himself had been providing in his interpretive writings on the teachings of the Faith and the, as he described it, "complete system of world administration implicit in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh" - were summarized by him in the following words: "The text of this national constitution comprises a Declaration of Trust, whose articles set forth the character and objects of the national Bahá'í community, establish the functions, designate the central office, and describe the official seal, of the body of its elected representatives, as well as a set of by-laws which define the status, the mode of election, the powers and duties of both local and national Assemblies, describe the relation of the National Assembly to the International House of Justice as well as to local Assemblies and individual believers, outline the rights and obligations of the National Convention and its relation to the National Assembly, disclose the character of Bahá'í elections, and lay down the

Page 303

requirements of voting membership in all Bahá'í communities."

The drafting of the By-Laws of the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the City of New York, in 1931, was likewise another great step forward in the evolution of the Administrative Order and was followed, a year later, by the legal incorporation of that Assembly in the State of New York. Of these by-laws Shoghi Effendi wrote that they would "serve as a pattern for every Bahá'í local Assembly in America and a model for every local community throughout the Bahá'í world."

The formulation of this prototype for all national Bahá'í constitutions, as well as the framing of by-laws suitable for any local Spiritual Assembly, laid a firm basis on which both national and local Bahá'í Assemblies could obtain incorporation or registration, according to the law of the country in which they functioned, and thus hold legal title to such endowments of the Faith as land, national and local headquarters, historic sites and in some cases Bahá'í Houses of Worship - steps to which Shoghi Effendi attached the utmost importance. During 1928 the Guardian began to urge the oriental National Assemblies to form their national constitutions, patterned on the American one, and in addition to seek recognition as religious courts empowered to administer the Bahá'í laws on matters of personal status, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and so on, which in many Islamic countries do not come within the jurisdiction of the usual civil courts.

All this primarily involved the battle of an independent Faith to obtain full recognition of its position in history and to be treated on an equal footing with other world religions. In the constant process of orienting the destinies of individual Bahá'í communities towards their common goal of becoming a completely unified international body, directed from a World Centre and labouring to achieve no less than the universal brotherhood of man, world pleased and eventually a world commonwealth of nations, Shoghi Effendi seized upon the formation of the United Nations as a further means of hastening the attainment of this supreme objective.

As soon as it became apparent that the framework of this international body permitted non-governmental organizations to send their accredited representatives to various conferences convened under its auspices, Shoghi Effendi urged what was then the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada to apply for this status, which was obtained by that body in 1947. At the time it made its application it submitted a Bahá'í

Page 304

Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights as well as a Bahá'í Statement on the Rights of Women. A Bahá'í United Nations Committee was appointed and a Bahá'í observer attended United Nations sessions. As this status was very limited in scope ways and means were found by which it could be enlarged. This was achieved during the winter of 1947-8 through seven National Spiritual Assemblies' authorizing the American national body to act on their behalf as their representative under the title Bahá'í International Community, duly recognized as an international organization accredited to the United Nations, a status that both enhanced the prestige of the Faith and increased the privileges of the official Bahá'í representatives who regularly attended and took part in various United Nations conferences of a type open to those enjoying such status. As new National Spiritual Assemblies were formed these too joined in and reinforced the organization representing the Bahá'í world.

The importance Shoghi Effendi attached to this tie linking the Cause with the greatest international instrument ever forged in human history is reflected in his own words: "it marks an important step forward in the struggle of our beloved Faith to receive in the eyes of the world its just due, and be recognized as an independent World Religion. Indeed, this step should have a favourable reaction on the progress of the Cause everywhere, especially in those parts of the world where it is still persecuted, belittled, or scorned, particularly in the East." At the time of the intense wave of persecution that swept over the Bahá'í Community of Persia in 1955 the carefully established and fostered relationship with the United Nations bore fruit; in consequence of the detailed documentation of the injuries and atrocities the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in His native land had been made to suffer, which was submitted to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, a commission was appointed by him, headed by the High Commissioner for Refugees, and instructed to contact the Persian Government and obtain formal assurance from it that the rights of the Bahá'í minority would be safeguarded. So much importance did the Guardian attach to this relationship that one of the twenty-seven listed objectives of the Ten Year International Teaching and Consolidation Plan - the World Crusade - was the "Reinforcement of the ties binding the Bahá'í World Community to the United Nations."

The history of the Cause, Shoghi Effendi wrote, "if read aright, may be said to resolve itself into a series of pulsations, of alternating

Page 305

crises and triumphs, leading it ever nearer to its divinely appointed destiny." Although the passing of the Central Figure of the Faith - whether it was The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh or `Abdu'l-Bahá - had inevitably precipitated a crisis, the majority of such shocks which impelled it forward were the result of the persecutions it suffered, usually, though not exclusively, at the hands of its inveterate enemies, the Muslim ecclesiastics. During the thirty-six years of Shoghi Effendi's ministry there were repeated and violent outbreaks, locally and on a national scale, of a most brutal and blood-thirsty nature, against the followers of the Faith in Persia; its adherents in Turkey were suppressed, persecuted and falsely accused; its followers in Egypt were subjected to attacks upon their persons, their properties, their cemeteries and their legal rights; its adherents in Russia had their Assemblies dissolved, their Temple confiscated and were themselves, for the most part, either departed or exiled; the Bahá'í Community in Germany was officially dissolved and its activities forbidden in June 1937, its national archives were confiscated, some of its members interrogated and even placed under arrest.

Such events caused the Guardian keen distress, took up a great deal of his time and added to the burdens of an already over-burdened heart and mind. The major problem, however, was always Persia, where a "long-abused, down-trodden, sorely-tried community" perpetually struggled for its very existence in the face of continual persecution. This "dearly-beloved" Community - as he so lovingly and repeatedly referred to it - preoccupied him from the earliest to the latest days of his ministry. A steady flow of communications from him poured out to its members and its elected national body, and in his communications to the Bahá'ís of the West it was the frequent subject of his solicitude, his appeals for assistance in defending it and his explanations of why this Community - which he said had led the Heroic Age of the Faith - was so bitterly set upon by the people of its native land.

The fact that the Supreme Manifestation of God appeared in Persia and that it is therefore the much-loved "Cradle of our Faith and the object of our tenderest affections", as Shoghi Effendi said; the fact that, as he also wrote, the time will come "which is to witness the spiritual and material ascendancy of Persia among all the nations of the world", does not mean that at the present time the national character is so changed as to promise the speedy fulfilment of this prophecy. "Only a close and unbiased observer", he

Page 306

wrote, in one of his general letters, "of the manners and habits of the Persian people...can truly estimate the immensity of the task that faces every conscientious believer in that land" due to "the prevailing tendencies of different sections of the population" such as their apathy, indolence, absence of a sense of public duty and loyalty to principle, lack of concerted effort and constancy in action, and their habit of secrecy and blind surrender to an ignorant and fanatical clergy. As Bahá'u'lláh's Message must change the entire world it must likewise change His native land, which, when it comes under His shadow, has such a great destiny before it.

There was a time, as indicated in his letters, when Shoghi Effendi hoped the founder of the new Pahlavi dynasty - who was introducing many much-needed reforms - would speedily usher in a new phase in the development of Bahá'u'lláh's Faith in that country. In 1929 Shoghi Effendi had written that the believers there were "tasting the first-fruits of their long-dreamed emancipation". It was in view of this process to reform now taking place that he had advised the National Assembly to press for permission to print books and establish a Bahá'í Publishing Trust. This having been refused we find him cabling America in January 1932: "Urge transmit promptly through Teheran Assembly two written communications Persian Government and Shah expressing behalf American believers lively appreciation recent beneficial internal reforms, emphasizing spiritual ties binding two countries and earnestly pleading removal ban entry Bahá'í literature stressing their high moral value with particular reference to Nabils and Bahá'í World." Shoghi Effendi's hopes, however, were short-lived; the reforms were not big enough to include a bitterly hated community and this request too was refused. Determined not to give in without a real struggle, the Guardian cabled America five months later: "Urge address promptly written petition on behalf American believers to Shah introducing Ransom-Kehler as chosen representative empowered appeal for entry Bahá'í literature Persia. Stress widespread appreciation internal reforms and spiritual ties binding both countries emphasize high tribute paid in Bahá'í writings to Islam and their moral value to Persia. Mail petition Persian National Assembly."

This case provides us with an excellent example of how the Guardian seized upon any tool that same to his hand and used it for the service of the interests of the Faith. Mrs Keith Ransom-Kehler, an American believer and a woman of outstanding ability and

Page 307

character, had arrived in Haifa as a pilgrim and Shoghi Effendi determined to send her to Persia. She had been, before becoming a Baha'i, a minister of a Christian Church and was a fiery and able speaker. He kept her many weeks in Haifa, briefing her on Persia and what he hoped she could do there to assist in winning greater freedom for the Faith and at least a measure of recognition. Although the mission entrusted to her failed of its purpose, as the Shah refused to receive Mrs Ransom-Kehler, nevertheless the visit of this emissary of the Guardian had an historic effect on the Persian Bahá'í Community for she had been steeped in his instructions regarding the development of the Administrative Order there and was able to stir a frequently intimidated, always downtrodden and sometimes apathetic community into a new awareness of the mission awaiting it in the future, and the urgency of the immediate duties that lay before it. But, as in the case of Dr Esslemont, this newly taken-up instrument was wrenched from the Guardian's hand. On 28 October 1933 he cabled America: "Keith's precious life offered up sacrifice beloved Cause in Bahá'u'lláh's native land. On Persian soil for Persia's sake she encountered challenged and fought forces of darkness with high distinction indomitable will unswerving exemplary loyalty. Mass of her helpless Persian brethren mourn sudden loss their valiant emancipator American believers grateful and proud memory their first and distinguished martyr. Sorrow stricken I lament earthly separation invaluable collaborator unfailing counsellor esteemed and faithful friend. Urge local Assemblies befittingly organize memorial gatherings in memory one whose international services entitle her eminent rank among Hands of Cause of Bahá'u'lláh". Persia's great loss in this death had become America's great gain.

The worthiness of Shoghi Effendi's emissary for the posthumous honours he so generously heaped upon her is amply reflected in her own words, written in Persia at a time when she felt keenly the failure of her primary mission: "I have fallen, though I never faltered. Months of effort with nothing accomplished is the record that confronts me. If anyone in future should be interested in this thwarted adventure of mine, he alone can say whether near or far from the seemingly impregnable heights of complaisance and indifference, my tire old body fell. The smoke and din of battle are to-day too dense for me ascertain whether I moved forward or was slain in my tracks. Nothing in the world is meaningless suffering least of all. Sacrifice with its attendant agony is a germ, an

Page 308

organism. Man cannot blight its fruition as he can the seeds of earth. Once sown it blooms, I think forever, in the sweet fields of eternity. Mine will be a very modest flower, perhaps like the single tiny forget-me-not, watered by the blood of Quddus that I plucked in the Sabz-i-Maydan of Barfurush; should it ever catch the eye, may one who seems to be struggling in vain garner it in the name of Shoghi Effendi and cherish it for his dear remembrance."

In December 1934 Shoghi Effendi wired the Persian National Assembly: "Has Tarbiyat School been permanently closed enquire and wire". the background of this question is reflected in the answer of that Assembly to the Guardian: "Pursuant with your request on day Báb's Martyrdom both Tarbiyat Schools Teheran were closed therefore Ministry Education obliged close both schools and asked why we did not dissimulate..." This case might be cited as a classic example of the struggle of the Persian Bahá'ís - constantly spurred on and guided by Shoghi Effendi - to obtain at least a reasonable measure of liberty in following their own religion, which numerically was, after Islam, the largest in the country. The Tarbiyat boys' and girls' School, owned and managed entirely by the Bahá'ís, had been in existence for thirty-six years. founded in 1898, in the days of `Abdu'l-Bahá, it had been a project dear to His heart; it had always had an excellent reputation, and although its pupils were mainly Baha'i, children of all denominations attended it. The School had always closed on the nine Bahá'í Holy Days but now, on the flimsy pretext that the Bahá'ís belonged to a denomination not officially recognized in Persia, the Ministry of Education had suddenly required the School to remain open on these days. This meant a retreat instead of an advance in the battle for emancipation the Cause was struggling so desperately to win and Shoghi Effendi flatly refused, ordering the Assembly to close the School on the anniversary of The Báb's Martyrdom. As he was neither willing to advise the believers to dissimulate their Faith, nor to keep the School open on Bahá'í Holy Days, and the Government refused to change its orders, the Tarbiyat School, one of the best in Persia, was closed and remains closed to present day.

In announcing this bad news, the day after he received his answer from Tehran, to the Bahá'ís in that land where they enjoyed the greatest degree of freedom throughout the entire world the anger of the Guardian is reflected in every word as he pours out the list of indignities and sufferings to which the Bahá'ís of Persia

Page 309

are being subjected: "Information just received indicates deliberate efforts undermine all Bahá'í institutions in Persia. Schools in Kashan, Qazvin, Sultanabad closed. In several leading centres including Qazvin Kirmanshah orders issued suspend teaching activities, prohibit gatherings, close Bahá'í Hall, deny right burial in Bahá'í cemeteries. Bahá'ís of Teheran compelled under penalty imprisonment register themselves Moslems in identity papers. Elated clergy inciting population. National Teheran Assembly's petitions to Shah undelivered rejected. Impress Persian Minister gravity intolerable situation".

In face of these wholly unwarranted blows received at a time when it could logically be expected that the more liberal policy affecting the entire country would be stretched to include the members of a Faith that since the days of Darius and his successors constituted that nation's only serious claim to fame - at such a time the Persian Bahá'ís were able to hold a Convention whose delegates were sufficiently representative of the Bahá'í Community within that country to elect a National Assembly that Shoghi Effendi officially lists in his statistical pamphlets as having been formed in 1934; already in 1927, what he had termed "their first historic representative conference of various delegates" had been held and plans made for the holding of future annual gatherings of this nature, and in 1928 he had begun to call the assemblies elected at these gathering the National Spiritual Assembly of Persia. One of the main reasons for this long-delayed proper election, "modelled", as he wrote, "after the method pursued by their brethren in the United States and Canada", was that the Assembly had been unable to carry out his instructions that a carefully compiled list of all believers in the country was a prerequisite to the proper administrative procedure involved in the formation of a national body.

During 1931 Shoghi Effendi had instructed Persia to but a piece of land for her future Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and to start building a Haziratu'l-Quds in Tehran. It was no doubt partly due to these assertions of its right to exist as a recognized community that an irate government had, far from recognizing it, stiffened it its determination to deny its existence in spite of the great lengths to which the Guardian and the Community went in a reasonable effort not to provoke the authorities or the people unnecessarily. An example of this moderation is his instruction to the Bahá'í women not to take the lead in the new emancipation of women

Page 310

the Shah had set in motion - an emancipation which involved abandoning the veil and was entirely in keeping with the teachings of both The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh - lest it precipitate new troubles.

The situation of the Bahá'ís in the East and particularly Persia is never really quiet, is always precariously balanced, ever ready to flare up into a violent and all-too-frequently bloody outbreak of persecution. Repeatedly there were isolated cased of Bahá'ís being killed - some of whom the Guardian mentioned as martyrs; constantly there was a temperature of persecution, sometimes hotter here and sometimes hotter there, but always present. to all the vicissitudes afflicting the Persian friends the Guardian responded with loving messages, with sums of money for relief, and instructions, usually to the American National Assembly, to intervene on their behalf and solicit justice in their cause. Such communications as the following were not infrequent and reflect the spirit of these messages: "advise...hold special devotional gatherings Temple auditorium supplicate assistance invisible hosts Abhá Kingdom emancipation long suffering brethren Bahá'u'lláh's native land. May America's incessant strivings redoubled exertions compensate enforced inactivity so large a section organized body of His followers".

The worst crisis, however, which the Persian Bahá'í Community experienced in the thirty-six years of the Guardian's ministry, arose in 1955, when, as he cabled, a sudden deterioration took place in the affairs of this largest community in the Bahá'í world. In a long cable, dated 23 August, he reported to the Hands and National Assemblies what had been taking place: following the seizure by the authorities of the National Headquarters of the Persian believers in Tehran and the destruction of its large ornamental dome (a destruction during which one of the country's leading divines and a general of its army themselves took up pickaxes and went to work), local Bahá'í administrative headquarters all over Persia were seized and occupied, the Parliament of the country outlawed the Faith, a virulent press and radio campaign was started, distorting its history, calumniating its Founders, misrepresenting its teachings, and obscuring its aims and purposes - following all this a series of atrocities was perpetrated against the members of this sorely tried community throughout the entire country. In his summary of the terrible damage done and the "barbarous acts" committed, he cited such events as: the desecration of the House of The Báb in Shiraz, the foremost Shrine of

Page 311

the Faith in Persia, which had been severely damaged; the occupation of the ancestral home of Bahá'u'lláh; the pillaging of shops and farms owned by the believers and the looting of their homes, destruction of their livestock, burning of their crops and digging up and desecration of the Bahá'í dead in their cemeteries; adults were beaten; young women abducted and forced into marriage with Muslims; children were mocked, reviled and expelled from schools as well as being beaten; tradesmen boycotted Bahá'ís and refused to sell them food; a girl of fifteen was raped; an eleven-month-old Báby was trampled underfoot; pressure was brought on believers to recant their Faith. More recently, he went on to say, a mob two thousand strong had hacked to pieces with spades and axes a family of seven - the oldest eighty and the youngest nineteen - to the sound of music and drums.

The Bahá'ís, at the instruction of their Guardian, had already, through the intermediary of telegrams and letters to the authorities in Persia from over one thousand groups and Assemblies throughout the world, protested against such unjust and lawless acts committed against their law-abiding brethren. In addition all National Assemblies had addressed letters to the Shah, the Government and the Parliament protesting against this unwarranted persecution of a harmless community on purely religious grounds. As all this brought forth no acknowledgement whatsoever from official quarters the Guardian instructed the International Bahá'í Community, accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization to the United Nations, to take the question to that body in Geneva, he himself nominating those whom he wished to act as representatives of the Community on this important occasion. copies of the Bahá'í appeal were delivered to representatives of the member nations of the Social and Economic Council and the Director of the Human Rights Division, as well as to certain specialized agencies of the Non-Governmental Organizations enjoying consultative status. The President of the United States was likewise appealed to by the American National Assembly and by all groups and local Assemblies in that country to intervene on behalf of their oppressed sister community in Persia.

This was the first time in its history that an attacked Faith was able to fight back with weapons that possessed some strength to defend it. The significance of this was clearly brought out by Shoghi Effendi. whatever the outcome of these "heart-rending" events might be, one fact had clearly emerged: God's infant Faith,

Page 312

which had during the twenty-five years following the ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá provided itself with the machinery of its divinely appointed Administrative Order, and subsequently utilized its newly born administrative agencies to systematically propagate that Faith through a series of national plans that had culminated in the World Crusade, was now, in the wake of this ordeal convulsing the overwhelming majority of its followers, emerging from obscurity. the world-wide reverberations of these events would be hailed by posterity as the "mighty blast of God's trumpet" which, through the instrumentality of the "oldest, most redoubtable, most vicious, most fanatical adversaries" of the Cause must awaken governments and heads of government, in both the East and West, to the existence and the implications of this Faith. So stormy were the circumstances surrounding these events in Persia and so impressive their repercussions abroad that the Guardian stated they were bound to pave the way for the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of orthodoxy in Islamic countries as well as for the ultimate recognition in His own homeland of the independent character of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.

In view of the great sufferings and pitiful condition of the Persian believers Shoghi Effendi inaugurated an "Aid the Persecuted" fund and opened it by himself contributing the equivalent of eighteen thousand dollars for "this noble purpose". Not content with this evidence of Bahá'í solidarity he called for the construction in Kampala, in the heart of Africa, fo the "Mother Temple" of that continent as a "supreme consolation" to the "oppressed masses" of our "valiant brethren" in the Cradle of the Faith. He struck back at the forces of darkness swarming over the oldest bastion of that Faith in the world, with the greatest weapons at his disposal - the forces of creative progress, enlightenment and faith.

It is hard to realize that one man, all alone in his solitude in Switzerland, with no advisers surrounding him to assist or comfort him at such a time, bore the shock of this violent wave of attacks that broke so suddenly on Persia in 1955; that all alone he devised his strategy, cabled his adjutants - the various National Assemblies - what action they should take, appointed those who were to represent the interests of the Faith to the highest international body ever devised by man - the United Nations - comforted the down-trodden, raised money for their succour, hurled his spears left and right in their defence.

Turning to the question of the liquidation of the Faith in Russia

Page 313

we must remember that one of the earliest Bahá'í communities in the world had existed there, in the Caucasus and Turkistan, from the end of the last century, where many Persians had found a welcome refuge from the persecutions to which they were so constantly subjected in their native land. They had established themselves in a number of towns, particularly in Ishqabad, were they had erected the first Temple of the entire Bahá'í world and opened schools for the Bahá'í children which remained in existence for over thirty years. Their affairs were well organized. They had, in 1928, a number of Spiritual Assemblies (including one in Moscow) and two central Assemblies had, pending the holding of proper, representative national elections, administered their affairs, appearing on lists published in the United States as the National Assemblies of Caucasus and of Turkistan. In a letter addressed in September 1927 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Ishqabad Shoghi Effendi instructed them to gradually prepare for delegates from all Assemblies in Turkistan to meet in Ishqabad and hold the election of their National Assembly. On 22 June 1928 Shoghi Effendi received a cable from the Ishqabad Assembly as follows: "In accordance general agreement 1917 Soviet Government has nationalized all Temples but under special conditions has provided free rental to respective religious communities regarding Mashriqu'l-Adhkar government has provided same conditions agreement to Assembly supplicate guidance by telegram". The Guardian took immediate action, cabling the Moscow Assembly to "Intercede energetically authorities prevent expropriation Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. Enquire particulars Ishqabad..." and to Ishqabad to "refer Moscow Assembly address petition authorities behalf all Bahá'ís Russia. Act firmly assure you prayers".

In recalling the events which transpired in Russia a sharp distinction must be made - one which the Guardian himself recognized - between the hardships to which the Russian believers were subjected and the persecutions the Bahá'ís underwent in Persia. In Persia the believers were, and still are, singled out as victims of every form of injustice because they are followers of Bahá'u'lláh; in Russia the situation was entirely different. the Bahá'ís were not discriminated against because they were Bahá'ís but suffered from a policy which the government pursued against all religious communities.

In September 1928, in a letter to Martha Root, Shoghi Effendi

Page 314

indicates not only what had been going on in Russia but how it had affected him personally: "It has been a very depressing summer this year for me as the condition of the Cause in Russia is going from bad to worse. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar has been appropriated by the State, closed and sealed. A very large sum is required from the friends if rented to them, otherwise they threaten to sell it to others in parts. The situation is very critical and many families have migrated to Persia. Meetings are suspended, Assemblies dissolved, heavy restrictions and penalties imposed...this and other happenings have made me feel very down-hearted and sad." The return to Persia of Bahá'ís from Russia was a move he did not approve of at all. He informed the Ishqabad Assembly that "departure friends Iran exceedingly harmful" and said they should change their Persian citizenship to Russian citizenship if necessary. He had already urged the Bahá'í immigrants in Russia to learn the language and translate Bahá'í literature into it. In 1929 he wrote to the Persian National Assembly that the Ishqabad believers should remain there and not disperse but wait for the evil clouds of injustice to pass and the sun of justice to come out.

In all persecutions how much is exacerbated by the unwisdom of the persecuted themselves, interacting of the unwisdom of subordinates carrying out the instructions of superiors - who may or may not be ill disposed - is a mystery we are not likely ever to solve in this world. It does not seem unreasonable to suppose, however, that at least some of our misfortunes we amplify by our own acts.

What had transpired in Russia, Shoghi Effendi wrote in a long letter to the Bahá'ís of the West on 1 January 1929, was that the Russian Bahá'ís had at least been brought under the "rigid application of the principles already enunciated by the state authorities and universally enforced with regard to all other religious communities"; the Bahá'ís "as befits their position as loyal and law-abiding citizens" had obeyed the "measures which the State, in the free exercise of its legitimate rights, has chosen to enforce". The measures which the authorities had taken "Faithful to their policy of expropriating in the interests of the State all edifices and monuments of a religious character" had led them to expropriate and assume the ownership and control over "that most cherished and universally prized Bahá'í possession, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Ishqabad." In addition to this "state orders, orally and in writing," had "been officially communicated to the Bahá'í Assemblies

Page 315

and individual believers, suspending all meetings...suppressing the committees of all Bahá'í local and national Spiritual Assemblies, prohibiting the raising of funds...requiring the right of full and frequent inspection of the deliberations...of the Bahá'í Assemblies...imposing a strict censorship on all correspondence to and from Bahá'í Assemblies...suspending all Bahá'í periodicals... and requiring the deportation of leading personalities in the Cause whether as public teachers and speakers or officers of Bahá'í Assemblies. To all these", Shoghi Effendi stated, "the followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh have with feelings of burning agony and heroic fortitude unanimously and unreservedly submitted, ever mindful of the guiding principles of Bahá'í conduct that in connection with their administrative activities, no matter how grievously interference with them might affect the course of the extension of the Movement, and the suspension of which does not constitute in itself a departure from the principle of loyalty to their Faith, the considered judgment and authoritative decrees issued by their responsible rulers must, if they be faithful to Bahá'u'lláh's and `Abdu'l-Bahá'í express injunctions, be thoroughly respected and loyally obeyed." He went on to say that after the Bahá'ís in Turkistan and the Caucasus had unsuccessfully exhausted every legitimate means for the alleviation of these restrictions imposed upon them, they had resolved to "conscientiously carry out the considered judgment of their recognized government" and "with a hope that no earthly power can dim...committed the interests of their Cause to the keeping of that vigilant, that all-powerful Divine Deliverer..."

Shoghi Effendi assured the Bahá'ís in this message that if he deemed it expedient to call upon the Bahá'í world to intervene at a later stage he would do so. In April 1930 he felt the time had dome for this; the precious Temple, which the Bahá'ís had succeeded in renting from the authorities after its confiscation, was now placed in danger of passing once for all from their hands through a series of further and harsher measures imposed upon the friends. He therefore cabled the American National Assembly "...prompt action required. Stress international character Temple..." In his previous long letter he had already outlined the approach that should be made, when and if the time came for the believers abroad to raise their voices in protest and explanation: national as well as local Assemblies, East and West, in a gesture of Bahá'í solidarity, would call the attention of the Russian officials not only to

Page 316

their refutation of any implication of a political design or ulterior motive which might have been falsely imputed to their brethren in that land, but to the "humanitarian and spiritual nature of the work in which Bahá'ís in every land and of every race are unitedly engage" and to the international character of that Edifice which had the distinction of being Bahá'u'lláh's first Universal House of Worship, whose design `Abdu'l-Bahá had Himself conceived and which had been constructed under His direction and supported by the collective contributions of believers throughout the world.

But when the die was finally cast Shoghi Effendi cabled the Ishqabad Assembly to "abide by decision State Authorities". A case such as this, involving the first of the two Bahá'í Temples erected under the aegis of `Abdu'l-Bahá, cannot but constitute a guiding patter for Bahá'í Assemblies to follow throughout all time and furnish a well of information to the individual believer on his duty towards his government, whatever the nature of that government may be.

Two other countries, Turkey and Egypt, formed with Russia, Persia and Germany the scene of serious repressive and restrictive measures imposed on the Faith during the lifetime of the Guardian. In Turkey, which ever since the downfall of the Caliphate had been the subject, as Shoghi Effendi wrote, of "an uncompromising policy aiming at the secularization of the State and the disestablishment of Islam", great civil reforms had taken place, reforms with this incidentally the Bahá'ís were wholly in sympathy. The troubles which arose there were therefore not based on religious prejudice but were rather brought about by the fact that the new regime had in the past discovered that so-called religious groups in Turkey had provided cover for political agitation and when its agents found the Bahá'í Community was organized and was pursuing its activities openly, teaching and spreading the Faith, they became suspicious and alarmed, searched many of the believers' homes, seized any literature they found, severely cross-examined some of them and put a good number in prison. The case brought a great deal of publicity to the Faith, to some extent abroad, but mostly in the Turkish press, which reacted in favour of the Bahá'ís and ensured for them, when it a came before the Criminal Tribunal on 13 December 1928, a full and impartial hearing. It marked a new departure in the unfoldment of the Cause: "never before in Bahá'í history", Shoghi Effendi wrote, "have the follower of Bahá'u'lláh been called upon by the officials

Page 317

of a unfold the history and principles of their Faith..."

It is interesting to note that in the papers seized by the authorities from the Assembly of Constantinople (the city now known as Istanbul), one of Queen Marie's tributes to the Faith was found and its implications were not lost upon the examining judges. The President of the Constantinople Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly, in giving his testimony before the court, exposed in a most brilliant manner the tenets of the Faith and included this pointed quotation from Bahá'u'lláh's own words: "Before Justice, tell the Truth and fear nothing." The conclusion of this entire episode was that the Bahá'ís had to pay a fine for having infringed the law that all associations should be registered with the government and due authorization to hold public meetings be obtained, but its results were of great significance to the Faith, not only locally but abroad. The verdict of the Court was summarized by Shoghi Effendi in a general letter to the Bahá'ís of the West, written on 12 February 1929: "As to the is stated clearly that although the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, in their innocent conception of the spiritual character of their Faith, found it unnecessary to apply for leave for the conduct of their administrative activities and have thus been made liable to the payment of a fine, yet they have, to the satisfaction of the legal representatives of the State, not only established the inculpability of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, but have also worthily acquitted themselves of the task of vindicating its independence, its Divine origin, and its suitability to the circumstances and requirements of the present age."

Although this was the first major episode involving the Bahá'ís with the new State that had evolved in turkey after the downfall of the Caliphate, it was not to be the last. The secular powers were constantly on their guard against reactionary forces in the State and, as the official memory was short, in 1933 there was a recrudescence of the same suspicions and accusations that had brought about the case in 1928. On 27 January we find Shoghi Effendi cabling the American National Assembly: "Bahá'ís Constantinople and Adana numbering about forty imprisoned charged subversive motives. Urge induce Turkish Minister Washington make immediate representations his government release law abiding followers non-political Faith. Advise also National Assembly cable authorities Angora and approach State Department". At the same time he wired the Persian National Assembly: "Urge immediate representations Turkish Ambassador behalf imprisoned Bahá'ís

Page 318

Stamboul and Adana charged political motives". the next day he wired a prominent Turk:

His Excellency Ismat Pasha

As Head of Bahá'í Faith learned with amazement and grief imprisonment followers of Bahá'u'lláh in Stamboul and Adana. Respectfully appeal your Excellency's intervention on behalf followers of a Faith pledged loyalty to your government for whose epochal reforms its adherents world over cherish abiding admiration.

The Bahá'ís, familiar with the whole situation through the detailed letters the Guardian had written at the time of the previous case, immediately took action and their representations to the Turkish authorities, as well, no doubt, as moves made in Turkey to cite the verdict the Criminal Court have given in the former case, secured, after many months of effort, the release and acquittal of the believers. On 5 March the Guardian informed the American Assembly: "Istanbul friends acquitted 53 still imprisoned Adana urge renew energetically representations immediate release" and on 2 April he cabled them: "Adana friends released. Advise convey appreciation Turkish Ambassador".

When we recall that this latest case in Turkey was taking place at the same time that Shoghi Effendi was struggling to obtain some rights for the Faith in Persia - during Mrs Keith Ransom-Kehler's sojourn in that country - we get a faint idea of the number and nature of the problems he was so constantly called upon to deal with. In spite of a regular recrudescence of suspicion on the part of the Turkish authorities the Guardian was able to lay, during his own lifetime, sufficiently strong foundations in the Bahá'í community of that country for it to elect after his passing, in fulfilment of one of his goals of the Ten Year Plan, its own independent National Spiritual Assembly.

In Egypt, one of the earliest countries to receive, during His own days, the Light of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, events transpired, three years before the first court case of the believers in Turkey took place, to which the Guardian attached supreme significance. Beginning by a fierce attack on a small band of Bahá'ís in an obscure village of Upper Egypt it ended in being the "first step", Shoghi Effendi said, in "the eventual universal acceptance of the Bahá'í Faith, as one of the independent recognized religious systems of the world". The laws of personal status in almost all Islamic countries

Page 319

are administered by religious courts; when the Bahá'ís of that village formed their Spiritual Assembly, the headman, inflamed by religious fanaticism, began to stir up feeling against three married men who had become Bahá'ís; through legal channels a demand was made that their Muhammadan wives divorce them on the grounds that they were now married to heretics. the case went to the Appellate religious court of Beba, which delivered its Judgement on 10 May 1925, in which it strongly condemned the heretics for violating the laws and ordinances of Islam and annulled the marriages. This in itself was a significant move but what the Guardian attached the most importance to was that "It even went so far as to make the positive, the startling and indeed the historic assertion that the Faith embraced by these heretics is to be regarded as a distinct religion, wholly independent of the religious systems that have preceded it". In his resume of that verdict Shoghi Effendi quote the actual words of the Judgment, of such immense historic importance to the Bahá'ís:

The Bahá'í Faith is a new religion, entirely independent, with beliefs, principles and laws of its own, which differ from, and are utterly in conflict with, the beliefs, principles and laws of Islam. No Baha'i, therefore, can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa, even as no Buddhist, Brahmin, or Christian can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa.

Even if this verdict had remained an isolated phenomenon in an obscure local court of Egypt it would have been an invaluable weapon in the hands of the believers all over the world who were seeking to assert just that independence so clearly enunciated in this Judgment. But it did not rest there; it was subsequently sanctioned and upheld by the highest ecclesiastical authorities in Cairo, and printed and circulated by the Muslims themselves.

The Guardian, who was every ready to seize upon the most insignificant and flimsy tools - from human beings to pieces of paper - and wield them as weapons in his battle to secure the recognition and emancipation of the Faith, grasped this sharp new sword placed in his hands by the enemies of the Faith themselves and went on striking with it until the end of his life. It was, he stated, the first Charter of the emancipation of the Cause from the fetters of Islam. In the East the Bahá'ís used it, under his astute guidance, as a lever to win for them a reluctant admission that the Faith was not a heresy inside Islam and in the West to assert its disavowal of that same accusation. It was even cited, at the time Shoghi Effendi

Page 320

made strong representations to the Israeli Minister for Religious Affairs, as a reason for his insistence that the affairs of the Bahá'í Community should not be handled by the same department head who was responsible for the Muslim Community in Israel, pointing out that this created the impression we were a branch of Islam, and stating he preferred to have Bahá'í matters placed under the jurisdiction of the head of the Christian Department as in this way there could be no ambiguity as regards the independent status of the Bahá'í Faith. It was as a result of such arguments as these that the Ministry for Religious Affairs set up a Bahá'í Department with a head of its own.

With the powerful lever of The Bába Court's Judgment the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt fought, over a period of years, to obtain for its Community at least a modicum of recognition of its independent religious status. to facilitate this the Assembly published a compilation of the Bahá'í laws related to matters of personal status and with the force of this document behind it, and using repeated incidents provoked by fanatical Muslims against the Bahá'ís, succeeded in obtaining from the Egyptian Government plots of land, officially granted to it in those cities where there was a relatively large group of believers, to be used as exclusively Bahá'í burial grounds.

This compilation of the laws regarding personal status was translated into Persian as well as English and used as a guide in the conduct of Bahá'í affairs in those countries which did not have civil laws covering such matters. Although certain concessions were won from the authorities in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Persia, Palestine and INdia as a result of this, the fact remained that the legal situation of the Bahá'ís, particularly in Egypt and Persia, was highly ambiguous and they often found themselves with no rights at all in certain respects, living in a kind of legal no-man's-land. This was particularly true of their marriages and divorces which are registered with their Assemblies, took place according to Bahá'í law, but were viewed as non-existent in the eyes of the government of their country. The fact that large communities of believers accepted this hardship proudly, refusing to be humiliated in the eyes of their derisive fellow-countrymen, and continue to this day the struggle for recognition is such fundamental matters, is the highest possible tribute to the spirit of faith the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh have engendered in their hearts, and to the loyalty with which they carried out the instructions of their beloved

Page 321

Guardian not to mind "any wave of unpopularity, of distrust or criticism, which a strict adherence to their standards might provoke."

In his recapitulation of those events which must ultimately lead to the recognition and emancipation of the Faith Shoghi Effendi, in God Passes By , wrote these memorable words: "To all administrative regulations which the civil authorities have issued from time to time...the Bahá'í community, faithful to its sacred obligations towards its government, and conscious of its civic duties, has yielded, and will continue to yield implicit obedience...To such orders, however, as are tantamount to a recantation of their faith by its members, or constitutes an act of disloyalty to its spiritual, its basic and God-given principles and precepts, it will stubbornly refuse to bow, preferring imprisonment, deportation and all manner of persecution, including death - as already suffered by the twenty thousand martyrs that have laid down their lives in the path of its Founders - rather than follow the dictates of a temporal authority requiring it to renounce its allegiance to its cause."

In Shoghi Effendi's administration of the affairs of the Faith there was a quality of rigidity in essentials and fluidity in non-essentials that must always characterize a truly great leader. Whereas in matters that are fundamental there can be no compromise, there can and should be, in administering the affairs of a world-wide community, recognition of the fact that people are in different stages of evolution. An example of the wisdom and skill of Shoghi Effendi is the way he treated different communities differently, never permitting any community - be it in one of the world's great and most sophisticated metropolises or in a village of illiterate peasant - to disregard the fundamental teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, but recognizing at the same time that fact that one does not require of a five-year-old child what one does of an adolescent or demand the same wisdom, obedience and experience in a young man of twenty-one that one expects from a person who has passed through three score years and ten in the school of life. It was because of this understanding of the different stages of inexperience or maturity, as the case might be, of the various Bahá'í communities that Shoghi Effendi treated the Persian Bahá'í Community - the oldest and most tried in the tests of any community in the world - with the greatest degree of severity, expecting its privileged believers to be an example under all circumstances of fidelity and obedience to the laws of Bahá'u'lláh. Because of this policy he

Page 322

not only assiduously prepared the North American Bahá'ís, constituting the oldest western community in the world, to follow the laws - few in number but essential - which he ultimately gave them but forbore with them through the many long years it took to educate them to the point where they would and could accept and apply those laws. It was in accordance with this understanding that he instructed those National Assemblies engaged in teaching the Faith in so many countries opened during the World Crusade - countries whose inhabitants had mostly come from pagan backgrounds - to require of the new adherents fo the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh a minimum knowledge of its teachings adn laws before accepting them into the Community of the Most Great Name.

No better example of this differentiation in the stages of development that characterize different Bahá'í communities at the present time could be found than in the last letter Shoghi Effendi addressed to one of the great African Regional Assemblies. Dated 8 August 1957 (less than three months before he died), and written at the instruction of the Guardian himself, his secretary pointed out the very essence of his thoughts on such a supremely important subject at this stage in Bahá'í history:

"During Mrs. " 's visit, the Guardian discussed with her the teaching work in " where there is such a response to the Message, and where the people in outlying districts seem to be eager to enroll. He feels that those responsible for accepting new believers should consider that the most important and fundamental qualification for acceptance is the recognition of the station of Bahá'u'lláh in this day on the part of the applicant. We cannot expect people who are illiterate (which is no reflection on their mental abilities or capacities) to have studied the Teachings, especially when so little literature is available in their own language in the first place, and grasp all their ramifications, the way an African, say in London, is expected to. The spirit of the person is the important thing, the recognition of Bahá'u'lláh and His position in the world in this day. The friends therefore must not be too strict, or they will find that the great wave of loving enthusiasm with which the African people have turned to the Faith, many of them already accepting it, cools off; and being very sensitive, they will feel in some subtle way that they are rebuffed, and the work will suffer.

"The purpose of the new National Assemblies in Africa, and the purpose of any administrative body, is to carry the Message to the people and enlist the sincere under the banner of this Faith.

Page 323

"Your Assembly must never lose sight of this for a moment, and must go on courageously expanding the membership of the communities under your jurisdiction, and gradually educating the friends in both the Teachings and the Administration. Nothing could be more tragic than if the establishment of these great administrative bodies should stifle or bog down the teaching work. The early believers in both the East and the West, we must always remember, knew practically nothing compared to what the average Bahá'í knows about his Faith nowadays; yet they were the ones who shed their blood, the ones who arose and said: 'I believe', requiring no proof, and often never having read a single word of the Teachings. Therefore, those responsible for accepting new enrollments must just be sure of one thing - that the heart of the applicant has been touched with the spirit of the Faith. Everything else can be built on this foundation gradually.

"He hopes that during the coming year it will be increasingly possible for the African Bahá'í teachers to circulate amongst the newly-enrolled Bahá'ís and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Teachings."

The balanced judgment that was such a paramount quality of Shoghi Effendi's mind is nowhere better exemplified than in these instructions conveyed in that same letter:

"As regards the questions of tribal practice, the Guardian wishes you to be extremely forbearing and patient in weaning the Bahá'ís away from their old customs. this can only be done by taking each case individually as it comes up, using the greatest wisdom and kindness, and not trying rigorously to impose all Bahá'í laws in every detail at this time.

"Of course it is obvious that if a Bahá'í man already has one wife he cannot take another, no matter what the tribal law may be. Your Assembly should distinguish between this fundamental point and other phases of the tribal community life in which the new Bahá'í may still be deeply involved, and from which he cannot extract himself until the Bahá'í element in his community is strong enough to be a power in its own right.

"He agrees with the feeling of your Assembly that to start imposing the heavy sanction of depriving the friends of their voting rights is most unwise at the present time. The best policy is one of loving education."

What Shoghi Effendi made us understand is that the great tree of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh when first planted is a tiny seed

Page 324

- belief in Him. Gradually it will grow, like any living thing, bigger and bigger and become more and more mature. Shoghi Effendi conceived it his major task, pursuant to `Abdu'l-Bahá'í instructions in His Will, to promulgate the Faith throughout the entire planet and enlist under its banner all the peoples of the world; he realized the raw material must first be assembled from which could be shaped the future society of that world; although so many things were required to shape that future society and were admittedly essential prerequisites to its creation, the supreme fact remained that the masses must be first brought under the shadow of Bahá'u'lláh before His World Order would emerge in all its glory.

In North America, the cradle of the Administrative Order of the Faith, the Guardian spent sixteen years in laying a firm foundation and creating a pattern for all Bahá'í administrative institutions. In our modern terminology he built a launching pad from which he could send off his rockets - the great teaching Plans that occupied so much of his time during the last two decades of his life. That "the administration of the Cause is to be conceived as an instrument and not a substitute for the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, that it should be regarded as a channel through which His promised blessings may flow, that it should guard against such rigidity as would clog and fetter the liberating forces released by His Revelation..." Shoghi Effendi made absolutely clear. "It is surely", he went on to say, "for those to whose hands so priceless a heritage has been committed to prayerfully watch lest the tool should supersede the Faith itself, lest undue concern for the minute details arising from the administration of the Cause obscure the vision on its promoters, lest partiality, ambition, and worldliness tend in the course of time to becloud the radiance, stain the purity, and impair the effectiveness of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh." Four years after he began his first correspondence with the Bahá'ís of the East and the West in January 1922, Shoghi Effendi had begun to stress this point, which he evidently viewed as a danger from the beginning to the end of his ministry. In January 1926 he wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada that "As the administrative work of the Cause steadily expands, as its various branches grow in importance and number, it is absolutely necessary that we bear in mind this fundamental fact that all these administrative activities, however harmoniously and efficiently conducted, are but means to an end, and should be regarded as direct instruments for the propagation of the Bahá'í Faith. Let us

Page 325

take heed lest in our great concern for the perfection of the administrative machinery of the Cause, we lose sight of the Divine Purpose for which it has been created."

When the first Regional Assemblies were elected in Europe in 1957 as the intermediary bodies which would administer the affairs of some of the Ten Goal Countries of the second Seven Year Plan, pending the formation at a later date of independent National Assemblies, the Guardian wrote to each of these newly elected bodies a letter, stressing once again - as he had repeatedly done for years to all National Assemblies - this question of the administration being a means and not an end in itself. "The whole purpose of the Bahá'í administrative bodies at this time is to teach, to increase the membership, to increase the Assemblies and Groups" his secretary wrote on his behalf to one of these National Assemblies, and to another: "The fundamental purpose of the Bahá'í Administration at the present time is to teach the Faith. Administering it is only to coordinate its activities and to safeguard it. The friends must bear in this clearly in mind; and he feels that he should point out to your Assembly, just embarking on its historic tasks, what he has many times pointed out to the old and tired national bodies, and that is that you should strenuously avoid introducing rules and regulations which will complicate the smooth working of the Faith in your region, handicap the Bahá'ís unnecessarily and confuse them. Short of the essentials, as already laid down in the teachings, and clearly available, the national bodies must try to do everything in their power to encourage the friends to teach individually, to serve actively, to open new centres, convert groups to Assemblies..."

After the first Seven Year Plan had been formulated and launched, the Guardian, always clear in his own mind as to what he was doing and how it must be done, in 1939 informed the North American Bahá'ís, who were the prosecutors of that Plan, that they were "promoting the growth and the consolidation of that pioneer movement for which the entire machinery of their Administrative Order has been primarily designed and erected".

Just as in the universe there are many galaxies in different stages of evolution, so in the global universe of God's Cause different parts of the Bahá'í world were in different states of development. The communities of the Middle East were much farther advanced in applying the Bahá'í laws and ordinances in the lives of the believers that composed them, but they were neither emancipated,

Page 326

recognized nor free. the communities in the West, in the Americas, Europe and Australasia were free, but, because of the cultural past, and the fact that in their countries laws of personal status were administered by civil and not religious courts, were far behind the East in applying many of the laws of their Faith as well as in observing its ordinances. the new Bahá'ís in many of the world's more backward countries were free in the sense of not biding, like their brethren in the East, the victims of fanatical governments whose state religion was Islam, but were not always able to apply the Bahá'í laws because of the tribal societies in which many of them lived, and were also handicapped, at least temporarily, by the fact that the historical backgrounds from which they had spring were so different in many respects from those of the peoples of Jewish, Christian and Muhammadan antecedents, whose common background was that from which the Bahá'í Faith itself had come. Because of these factors Shoghi Effendi, like the conductor of a great orchestra, made sure that each community within the Bahá'í world was playing its own notes in the symphony of the whole. Though the parts were different each one had to follow the notes he had been given. Unless we grasp this picture of what our Bahá'í world is like at this present stage of its development, we will never be able to properly understand just what Shoghi Effendi did create, did accomplish, during his ministry and how thrilling his achievements are.

These different examples indicate that although mankind is one and the Faith is one, although its Administrative Order is one and its World Order will be one, the enforcement of the laws, ordinances and administrative procedures of the Cause must perforce progress at different rates of speed in different places. It took a long time for the Bahá'ís to reach the point, in the East and in the West, when they were sufficiently mature and had gained sufficient understanding of their Administrative Order for Shoghi Effendi to introduce, for example, the application of sanctions. He spent many years erecting, on the foundation already created by the Master, an organized system in which a Bahá'í was clearly differentiated from a non-Bahá'í - through his beliefs, his privileges and his responsibilities - before he could take the step of devising a way to ensure that inside the Bahá'í communities the believers made reasonable effort to follow the Bahá'í teachings and that if they too flagrantly disregarded them there was a means of punishment - a sanction - at hand to ensure they did not place in jeopardy

Page 327

the good name and independent character of the Faith and as a means of protecting the reputation of the community. This sanction was the removal of the administrative rights of a believer; it meant that he or she could no longer vote in Bahá'í elections, be elected to or appointed on Bahá'í Assemblies and committees, received a Bahá'í marriage or divorce and attend those meetings where the Bahá'ís as a community were gathered. It is exceedingly interesting to note that when Shoghi Effendi inaugurated this sanction - which is the heaviest administrative punishment the Bahá'ís possess and should never be confused for a moment with Covenant-breaking and its attendant excommunication, which is isolation because of a spiritual disease - he made it abundantly clear to the National Assemblies that it must be used only as an extreme measure, be applied (in the West) only with the approval of the National Assembly itself, and only be invoked in extreme cases. In the East, where many laws of personal status were administered by Assemblies, it involved a number of the provisions of the Aqdas; in the West, where a different situation existed, it involved obedience to those laws the Guardian considered the Bahá'ís must now follow, such as obtaining the consent of both parents to marriage, having a Bahá'í marriage ceremony, and following the Bahá'í divorce laws. This sanction was also invoked in cases where Bahá'ís, completely disregarding the teachings of their Faith, entered into political matters, or in cases of what he carefully termed "flagrant immorality" which brought the whole community into disrepute, or for other serious breaches of what he called those "directing and regulating principles of Bahá'í belief" which "the upholders of the Cause...feel bound, as their Administrative Order expands and consolidates itself, to assert and vigilantly apply." Shoghi Effendi made it clear that the removal of voting rights must never be used lightly and its use at all should be avoided as much as possible, both to protect individuals from a hasty retaliation on the part of irate bodies and to make friends realize that in being Bahá'ís they were privileged and had responsibilities and that in losing their rights in the community they forfeited something very great and very precious.

A procedure as fundamental as this was one which Shoghi Effendi universally applied to Bahá'ís everywhere in the world, no matter what type of society they were living in, and was part of his gradual implementation of the laws and principles ordained by Bahá'u'lláh "which constituted", he stated, "the warp and woof of

Page 328

the institutions upon which the structure of His World Order must ultimately rest".

This direction of a Faith from its World Centre, which necessitated rigidity and universality in fundamental matters and permitted and even encouraged fluidity in secondary matters, forms a fascinating subject for observation. Shoghi Effendi's ministry was a constant breaking of the various shackles binding the Bahá'ís to the past, to the societies in which they lived, and a building up of their knowledge of the Faith and of its administrative institutions. Like a skilled physician he gave general health rules to all and specific remedies in specific cases. There are innumerable examples of this, only a few of which can be cited here.

In 1923 Shoghi Effendi wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma that Bahá'í women should be included in all administrative activities on an equal footing with Bahá'í men - women in those parts of the world were already enjoying a greater freedom than was generally realized in the West. But in such countries of the Middle East as Persia, Egypt and Iraq, where women were entirely suppressed in civil life, the Guardian, not wishing to unnecessarily provoke the Muslim population by a highly provocative measure, did not permit Bahá'í women to take part in the administration of the faith until a quarter of a century later. In spite of the many glowing tributes he paid to Bahá'í women, and the testimony of `Abdu'l-Bahá that "women have evinced a greater boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of this Faith", in spite of the fundamental principle enunciated in the Bahá'í Teachings that men and women are equal, its application to the machinery of the Administrative Order was deemed by Shoghi Effendi purely secondary and relatively unimportant compared to the paramount need to advance the general interests of the Faith in Islamic countries and protect its very existence.

Another excellent example of the manner in which the Guardian's explicit instructions, which he gave to various National Assemblies conducting Plans under his generalship, were modified by him according to changing situations was the establishment during the World Crusade of local Bahá'í endowments and local headquarters: as the goals of the Ten Year Plan involved the acquisition of both national Haziratu'l-Quds and national endowments, he had instructed the Assemblies that there should be no further drain on the very limited resources of the Faith, already shouldering such a heavy programme, through expenditures on a

Page 329

local level. Had he not specified this the major goals would never have been reached; but by the summer of 1957 his secretary wrote in his letter to one of the Regional Assemblies of Africa: "Now that the work all over the Bahá'í world is progressing so remarkable and to all intents and purposes the Haziratu'l-Quds and national endowments have been purchased, he feels the friends should be left free to add additional Haziratu'l-Quds and endowments wherever they wish to."

It was by policies such as these that the Guardian had succeeded, long before he passed away, in building up the Administration of the Faith all over the world and making of it such a smoothly running international organization. He could never have achieved this during his lifetime if he had not had such a remarkable sense of proportion. He always knew where he could give way to the pressure of events without harming the Faith and when he should insist that, at any cost, some particular principle must be meticulously followed because not to do so would jeopardize a fundamental issue. Let us take the two extremes we find covered by his instructions on various occasions, both dealing with the same subject - National Conventions. At a time when there was a suggestion made to him by the American Assembly, in 1932, that because of the imperative need for economy the Convention should be given up that year and the election take place by mail, he cabled: "Spiritual advantages derived from deliberations of delegates in Convention assembled outweigh financial considerations. Urge eliminate unnecessary expenses." On another occasion, when he inaugurate the North American believers' first Seven Year Plan through a cable addressed to the 1937 Convention while it was in session, he called upon the delegates to prolong the Convention in order to have time to consider the details of this Plan they were to formulate and launch. But at the time he instructed Australia and New Zealand to form their joint national body, in 1934, he must have been perfectly aware of the fact that because the two countries were separated by a great distance, expensive to traverse, the National Assembly might have difficulty in holding its meetings. He evidently considered the advantages outweighed the disadvantages; the Australian and New Zealand Bahá'ís held a Convention in 1934, one in 1937 and one in 1944 - three in ten years; they conducted their work mostly through correspondence, a quorum operating in Australia in emergencies. This example, so completely different from the advice given to the American

Page 330

believers, reveals how Shoghi Effendi, through his wisdom and judgment, was able to advance the development of the Faith at such a rapid pace, never permitting minor considerations to hamper him or frustrate his purpose. Of primary importance - as soon as a reasonable basis for its election had been laid - was the formation of new National Assemblies; it was desirable that Conventions be held annually, desirable that as many as possible of the delegates take part in them, desirable that the Assembly meet as often as possible to consult, but it was not fundamental; the goal could be achieved by other means if necessary.

Another and typical example of this wonderful balance Shoghi Effendi expressed in all his vies is that reflected in his attitude towards the subject of the funds of the Faith. Provisions for the support of the Cause of God had been made by Bahá'u'lláh Himself and mentioned by `Abdu'l-Bahá on many occasions; but it was not until 1923 that Shoghi Effendi began to lay the foundations of systematic financial support of the work. On 12 March of that year he wrote a general letter addressed "To the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout America, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and Australasia" in which he said: "As the progress and extension of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of local as well as National Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá'í Fund be established...It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Bahá'u'lláh who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund." On 6 May he wrote to the American Assembly amplifying this subject and stating that in order to reinforce the vitally needed teaching campaign it was undertaking and to conduct properly and efficiently the manifold affairs that were the responsibility of the National Assembly, it was "urgently necessary to establish that Central fund, which if generously supported and upheld by individual friends and local Assemblies, will soon enable you to execute your plans with promptness and vigour." In a letter in October of that same year his deep concern for the work the believers were required to so urgently undertake after the Master's passing is reflected in these words: "the Cause which stands today in sore need of material help and assistance".

On one hand it was apparent that under no circumstances could the world-redeeming Order of Bahá'u'lláh be established without

Page 331

great financial expenditures and on the other there were two principles that Shoghi Effendi felt compelled to call to the attention of the Bahá'ís which, if not correctly understood and exposed in their proper light, could militate against the much-needed flow of contributions into the various Funds of the Faith. The first was that as the Bahá'ís had received the bounty of knowing of and accepting Bahá'u'lláh in this great new day, and had therefore become His people and were privileged to build up His Divine Kingdom on earth, they were the ones to freely give back to their fellow men the benefits this had brought them; you could not very well first ask people to pay for a thing - in this case all the multiple institutions of the Bahá'í Faith - and then give it to them as a gift! Shoghi Effendi made this very clear as early as 1929: "we should, I feel, regard it as an axiom and guiding principle of Bahá'í administration that in the conduct of every specific Bahá'í activity...only those who have already identified themselves with the Faith and are regarded as its avowed and unreserved supporters should be invited to join and collaborate. For apart from the consideration of embarrassing complications which the association of non-believers in the financing of institutions of a strictly Bahá'í character may conceivably should be remembered that these specific Bahá'í institutions, which should be viewed in the light of Bahá'u'lláh's gifts bestowed upon the world, can best function and most powerfully exert their influence in the world only if reared and maintained solely by the support of those who are fully conscious of, and unreservedly submissive to, the claims inherent in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh." This was the great spiritual principle involved. The practical, material one, which might lead to "embarrassing complications" was that if you accept money from non-Bahá'ís for Bahá'í schools, Bahá'í Temples and other Bahá'í institutions, including the many activities undertaken by Assemblies, you risk that these well-wishers, by they governments or individuals, societies or philanthropists, will feel they have a right to follow where their money led and have a say in the conduct of purely Bahá'í affairs. As this was obviously impossible, the Guardian state the Bahá'ís could only accept money from non-Bahá'ís for purely humanitarian purposes, such as charity to be expended for peoples of all racial and religious backgrounds and not just for Bahá'ís.

The second, and what he termed "the cardinal principle", in a message to the American National Assembly in 1926, was "that all

Page 332

contributions to the fund are to be purely and strictly voluntary in character. It should be made clear and evident to everyone that any form of compulsion, however slight and indirect, strikes at the very root of the principle underlying the formation of the Fund ever since its inception." This instruction was the logical concomitant of the attitude of the Bahá'í religion that the Message of the Manifestation of God in this day is His free gift to the peoples of the world; that all men have been called by Him to enter the Divine Fold and that in doing so not money but faith is required of them. Unlike so many churches there were no entrance fees, no obligatory dues to be paid, no seats in the Temples to be purchased, no forced contributions. The poor could find a refuge and the rich be welcomed on equal terms.

Apart from these two principles, what was the duty of the Bahá'ís towards the Fund? For a strong and unmistakable duty to support it existed, as Shoghi Effendi made abundantly clear: "The supply of funds," he wrote to the American Assembly in 1935, "in support of the National Treasury, constitutes, at the present time, the lifeblood of those nascent institutions which you are labouring to erect. Its importance cannot, surely, be overestimated." He said, in that same message, that the National Fund was the very "bedrock on which all other institutions must necessarily rest and be established". He said that it "should be increasingly supported by the entire body of the believers, both in their individual capacities, and through their collective efforts, whether organized as groups or as local Assemblies." By precept and example, over a period of more than a third of a century, the Guardian educated the Bahá'ís in a proper understanding of what it meant to have a Bahá'í Fund, to support it, and to spend it. It is a most fascinating subject; just as the heart pulse blood out through the arteries and capillaries of the body to give life to every individual cell, so the International, the National and the Local Funds pour back into the body of believers the benefits their contributions have made possible. International institutions proclaim the fame and create the heart of a World Community; national institutions, Bahá'í Temples, summer school, endowments, teaching institutes, literature, news letters perform the same function on a national scale; and local Fund enable the believers to have meeting places, carry on their teaching activities and general forward the interests of the Faith in cities, villages and hamlets.

Shoghi Effendi made it clear that one of the duties and privileges

Page 333

of being a follower of Bahá'u'lláh was to support His work in this world. He also made it clear that the principle involved in giving is more important than the sum involved; the penny of a poor man, which may for him and his family represent a real sacrifice, is as precious, as much needed and just as respectable a contribution as the hundreds or thousands of dollars a more well-to-do Bahá'í may give. Over and over again he stressed these two things: universality in giving, the participation of all as a symbol of our common love for and solidarity in our Faith, and sacrifice in giving. At the time when the great Mother Temple of the West was in urgent need of contributions to raise its structure the Guardian wrote: "It cannot be denied that the emanations of spiritual power and inspiration destined to radiate from the central Edifice of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will to a very large extent depend upon the range and variety of the contributing believers, as well as upon the nature and degree of self-abnegation which their unsolicited offerings will entail." It is hard for a wealthy person to sacrifice because he has so much; but for a poor person to sacrifice is easier because he has so little. Money given to the Cause at a sacrifice on the part of any giver carriers a particular blessing with it.

I am reminded of an example of this giving of the poor and meek in the Kingdom of God which the Guardian himself referred to in God Passes By: "...the touching scene when `Abdu'l-Bahá, receiving from the hands of a Persian friend, recently arrived in London from 'Ishqabad, a cotton handkerchief containing a piece of dry black bread and a shrivelled apple - the offering of a poor Bahá'í workman in that city - opened it before His assembled guests, and, leaving His luncheon untouched, broke pieces off that bread, and partaking Himself of it shared it with those who were present." The first Bahá'í Temple erected in Russia, the Mother Temple of the West in America, and the three other great Bahá'í Houses of Worship in Europe, Africa and Australia have all been built by contributions from believers all over the world, many of them representing real sacrifice on the part of Bahá'í men, women and even children.

At the very outset of his instructions regarding the necessity to build up a national Fund and create local Funds Shoghi Effendi, in a cable in 1923, made another fundamental principle involved in giving quite clear: "Individuals at liberty specify purpose of their donations. But general principle contributions, free and frequent,

Page 334

by individuals and local Assemblies toward central fund for discretionary apportionment by National Assembly highly recommended." Briefly, and simply, as usual, he put everything in its proper place; the Assembly Funds - national or local - needed to be freely and frequently supported, but the principle of the freedom of individuals, so inherent in the Faith, was likewise pointed out.

Shoghi Effendi himself repeatedly supported various undertakings in different countries. Shortly after the Master's passing he began to contribute to the American Temple; in 1957 he announced he himself would defray one-third of the cost of erecting the three new Bahá'í Temples to be constructed during the World Crusade; he supported much the translation and printing of Bahá'í books, contributed to Bahá'í cemeteries and the purchase of various Bahá'í headquarters, and innumerable other activities. In doing this he set an example to all believers and all Bahá'í institutions of giving, of participating with others in the joy of bringing to fruition plans of the Cause of God. His complete frankness in such matters, his avowal on some occasions that he did not have the money needed to do a certain thing he wanted to do for the Cause, the touching words with which he sent a small sum for the American Temple: "I beg to enclose my humble contribution of 19 pounds, as my share of the numerous donations that have reached the Temple Treasury in the past year", all provide not only an example but a very real encouragement to believers rich or poor to follow in his footsteps, happy they have such footsteps to tread in.

In his constant encouragement of the Bahá'ís to arise and spread their Faith among the spiritually hungry multitudes of their fellow men the Guardian frequently recalled to them the injunction of Bahá'u'lláh Himself: "Centre your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whose is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and promote it. Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation... " and said that those who were not able to go forth and establish themselves in those places where Bahá'ís were so urgently needed, should, mindful of these words of Bahá'u'lláh, " appoint a deputy who, on that believer's behalf, will arise and carry out so noble and enterprise." On more than one occasion he himself, through a National Assembly, deputized a number of Bahá'ís to fulfil specific goals.

The Guardian gave to the Bahá'ís of the world what in my own

Page 335

mind I like to call guiding lines of thought, different themes in different fields. They were, to use a homely but graphic metaphor, like the tracks of a railway on which certain trains run; it is the track that keeps the train on its path and enables it to reach its destination. Some of these major themes must be recalled if we are to gain any true appreciation of the life-work of Shoghi Effendi and to study how he succeeded in rearing the nascent institutions of a future world society.

Page 336

A proper understanding of the evolution of the Cause of God cannot be achieved unless certain fundamental truths enshrined in it are made clear. `Abdu'l-Bahá state one of these when He wrote: "From the beginning of time until the present day, the light of Divine Revelation hath risen in the East and shed its radiance upon the West. The illumination thus shed hath, however, acquired in the West an extraordinary brilliancy." This was the statement of a general principle common to the phenomenon of religion on this planet, but in this Bahá'í Dispensation the clear and specific working of this principle has been laid bare to our eyes over a period of more than one hundred and twenty-five years. In His first and mightiest book, the Qayyumu'l-Asma' , The Báb had called upon the people of the West to leave their cities and ensure the triumph of His Cause. Bahá'u'lláh in His Most Holy Book, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas , had addressed the rulers of the American continent and called upon them to arise and respond to His Call. To the impetus released by these initial divine pronouncements uttered by the twin Manifestations of God for this day was added the concentrated personal attention of the Centre of the Covenant. From the time, immediately following the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, when mention of Him was first made at the World's Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago in 1893, North America has been lapped in the waves of divine outpourings emanating from the pen and person of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and later the ceaseless directives and encouragement of Shoghi Effendi. The Guardian informed us that `Abdu'l-Bahá'í words in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and was in no small part a result of the direct contact of `Abdu'l-Bahá with the American and Canadian believers in the course of His journey through North America.

The combination of the love of the Father for the first-born, for the first nation in the West to respond to His Message, and the

Page 337

vitality of the New World itself, seems, in a mysterious and beautiful way, to have invested the Bahá'ís of North America with a station and powers unparalleled in history. The Master Himself conferred on them the title of "Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh" and they became "the object", Shoghi Effendi wrote, "of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í tender solicitude...the centre of His hopes, the recipient of His promises and the beneficiary of His blessings". throughout Shoghi Effendi's ministry they received from him an affection and encouragement equal to that the Master had showered upon them - indeed it was the continuation of that same love and that same policy. The Guardian referred to them as the "indefatigable, irresistibly advancing, majestically unfolding American Bahá'í Community", the "cradle and stronghold" of the Administrative Order, "singled out by the Almighty for such a unique measure of favour". In his innumerable letters he addressed them often as his "most prized and best-beloved brethren", so "dearly-loved, richly-endowed, unflinchingly resolute". they had been invested, he said, with "spiritual primacy" by `Abdu'l-Bahá, and were "the appointed, the chief trustees" of the "divinely conceived, world-encompassing" Divine Plan which conferred on them a world mission which was the "sacred birthright of the American followers of Bahá'u'lláh". More, they were not only the executors of the Mandate enshrined in that Plan but the "Executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Will" and because of these factors they were the "champion builders of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic Order" and the "torch bearers of a world civilization of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" itself. In his observation of the fulfilment of the truths enshrined in the Teachings, Shoghi Effendi pointed out that there had been forces at work "which, through a remarkable swing of the pendulum, have caused the administrative centre of the Faith to gravitate away from its cradle, to the shores of the American Continent." "To their Persian brethren, who in the Heroic Age of the Faith had won the crown of Martyrdom, the American believers, forerunners of its Golden Age, were now worthily succeeding"; they had become the "spiritual descendants of this "much loved", "high minded and valiant", "God-chosen" community, this "invincible arm, this mighty organ" of the Faith, as it carried on its "unique mission", to "be acclaimed as the creator and champion-builder of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh".

Page 338

The rise of the American Bahá'í Community was, Shoghi Effendi considered, one of the noblest episodes in the first century of the Faith; its development was directly due to the operation of the Will of the Master. What the Guardian, in his usual intense self-effacement, neglected to add was that it was his own implementation of the Will, fidelity to it and the application of the directives it enshrined, that brought this about.

In one of his earliest letters as Guardian, addressed to the New York Spiritual Assembly in 1923, Shoghi Effendi states in a few words his attitude towards America, an attitude that never altered until the end of his life: "Conscious of the clear and emphatic predictions of our beloved Master as to the predominant part of the West is destined to play during the early stages in the universal triumph of the Movement, I have, ever since His departure, turned my eyes in hopeful expectation to the distant shores of that continent..." "How often", he wrote to the American National Assembly that same year, "I have wished and yearned to be nearer to the field of your activities and thus be able to keep in more constant and closer touch with every detail of the manifold and all-important services you render."

A mutually trusting and tender relationship grew up between the young Guardian and those he called "the children of `Abdu'l-Bahá" from the very first moment they heard he had been named the Master's successor. When the provisions of His Will were promulgated, after its official reading on 7 January 1922, the national body, still known as the "Bahá'í Temple Unity" or "Executive Board", cabled him on 20 January "American rejoices appointment offers you its devoted services co-operation." They were both young, the Guardian and the American Community, and there is something about the way they grew up together, in his ministry, that is deeply moving. After his breakdown and withdrawal for a period of time during 1922, he cabled America on 16 December, after his return to Haifa, "The onward march of the Cause hath not been, nor can it ever be stayed. I pray the Almighty that my efforts, now refreshed and reassured, may with your undiminished support lead it to glorious victory." The National Assembly replied on the 19th "Your Message refreshed and revivified every heart like unto the refunctioning of the body of oneness may the power of a sustained unity in America be your ever present help our love loyalty devoted co-operation and happiness to you."

Page 339

In one of his first letters to them, itself revealing of the state of his mind and the beginnings of things, and captioned as follows "To the members of the Spiritual National Assembly, the elected representatives of all the believers throughout the continent of America", dated 23 December 1922 and followed by their nine names, Shoghi Effendi says, amongst other things: "...The efficient manner in which you have carried out my humble suggestions has been a source of great encouragement to me and has revived confidence in my heart. I have read and re-read reports of your activities, have studied minutely all the steps you have taken to consolidate the foundations of the Movement in America, and have learned with a keen sense of satisfaction the plans you contemplate for the further rise and spread of the Cause in your great country..." He is not only, he assures them, awaiting "all the joyous news of the deepening as well as the spreading of the Cause for which our beloved Master has given his time, his life, his all", but is remembering their "labours of love and service every time I lay my head on the Sacred Thresholds". He signs himself: "Your brother in His service".

We must always bear in mind that it was this early partnership with America, inherent in the destiny of the Faith, that led to the establishment and growth of the Administrative Order all over the world. The matrix of that Order was perfected in America, though in an embryonic form it had existed already in the days of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi, from the beginning in 1923, when he wrote "I assure you again of my readiness and wish to be of help and service to those faithful and devoted servants of Bahá'u'lláh in that land" never changed his attitude. In 1939 he wrote "I, for my part, am determined to reinforce the impulse that impels its members forward to meet their destiny."

When `Abdu'l-Bahá ascended the North American Bahá'ís were in the midst of a crisis of Covenant-breaking. The blow of His departure, the wave of agony and despair that swept over them, was succeeded by a wave of hope and love when they fixed their eyes on their young Guardian. Help is dependent on two factors, someone who needs help and is willing to receive it,and someone who wants to help and can do so. Shoghi Effendi began to actively guide America, finding her eager are responsive, from the very outset of his ministry. To the 1923 Convention he cabled ":that this year's Convention may...inaugurate an unexampled campaign of teaching is indeed my ardent prayer. Let this be Ridvan's

Page 340

Message: unite, deepen, arise." The captain had placed his hand on the helm. Through every storm, in calm waters, in years of trial and vicissitude, through war and peace, in youth, in middle age, at the end of his life, Shoghi Effendi never ceased to guide, turn to, love, admonish and hearten this "preeminent community of the Bahá'í World", a Community which had been, as he once wrote, "singled out by the Almighty for such a unique measure of favour, ...distinguished from its sister communities through the revelation of a Plan emanating directly from the mind and pen of its Founder", "recognized as the impregnable Citadel of the Faith of God, and the Cradle of the rising institutions of its World Order", "whose elevation to the throne of everlasting dominion the Centre of the Covenant confidently anticipated."

"Whenever", Shoghi Effendi wrote to one of America's local Assemblies on 6 January 1923 - a year after the reading of the Will of `Abdu'l-Bahá - "I recall the messages of love, of confidence and of hope our Beloved has expressed in such glowing terms in His innumerable Tablets to the loved ones in America, I feel that sooner or later the secret of this unbounded love must appear and that great continent so near and dear to His heart, must soon unfold itself entirely to the glory of His Revelation."

It is utterly impossible to divorce the rise of the Administrative Order throughout the world from the evolution of the North American Bahá'í Community, and particularly the United States believers, because the two processes are practically one and the same thing. With few exceptions, for thirty-six years, the pattern in administrative matters, the great directives concerning teaching, the world-shaping concepts and plans conveyed in the general letters of the Guardian were addressed to, published by or relayed through this Community. This does not mean the Guardian ignored Persia and other Bahá'í communities; far from it. He had an independent, intensely personal and loving relationship to each and every one of them, formed, with the older communities, at the same time as that with America, which neither flagged nor suffered neglect throughout the years, but rather grew in scope and intensity with the passage of time. He was always everyone's Guardian. But the North American body of the faithful was, according to the mysterious workings of Providence, burdened with unique responsibilities and the recipient of unique honours. In America and the Most Great Peace written in 1933, Shoghi Effendi states America's position in unmistakable terms: out of the anguish

Page 341

following the Master's passing, he wrote, "the Administration of Bahá'u'lláh's invincible Faith was born". The ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá released "potent energies" which "crystallized into this supreme, this infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose." The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá had set forth its character and provisions, America had espoused the cause of the Administration: "It was given to her, and to her alone, become the fearless champion of that Administration, the pivot of its new-born institutions and the leading promoter of its influence."

A born administrator, with a brain and temperament that were invariably orderly and tidy, Shoghi Effendi set about organizing the affairs of the Faith in a highly systematic manner. During the first two or three years he kept lists of his letters, before his correspondence, his problems, his fatigue and lack of proper helpers made it impossible for him to handle his mail in this manner. From these lists we gather he wrote to the following places: America, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Mesopotamia, Caucasus, Persia, Turkistan, Turkey, Australia, Switzerland, India, Syria, Italy, Burma, Canada, Pacific Islands, Egypt, Palestine, Sweden and Europe. He also wrote to many individual centres, in America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle and Far East. He lists sixty-seven of these in the 1922-3 period, eighty-eight during the period 1923-4, and ninety-six in the 1924-5 period. We see him stretch out his hands, probably literally often trembling with shock and illness, and seize the reins of affairs in the far-flung kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh he became heir to in 1921.

The vast majority of Bahá'ís still resided in Persia and neighbouring territories; there was a small but equally loyal and devoted community in North America, even smaller ones in Europe, Africa, the Indian sub-continent and the Pacific region. Most of these believers - including some of the members of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í own family - were anything but clear in their minds as to just what the Faith represented, had no idea of what form it was about to take, pursuant to the Master's instructions in His Will, and still less any real understanding of its Administrative Order. Although there were bodies called Spiritual Assemblies, they were often called by other names too, and their functioning and membership were frequently vague and bore small resemblance to what we now understand a Spiritual Assembly to be. America's national body, which had existed in some form since 1908, was known as

Page 342

"The Bahá'í Temple Unity"; in 1909 it was incorporated and had an "Executive Board"; in addition to delegates to the National Convention there were "alternate delegates"; the Chicago Assembly was known as "The House of Spirituality of the Bahá'ís of Chicago", at one time it had nine members and two "consulting members"; in New York there were nine people known as "The Board of Consultation, New York Metropolitan district"; the Bahá'ís in one Californian city wrote to Shoghi Effendi they had elected a committee of twelve people as their local Assembly; although for over a decade before `Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing elections had been taking place, the so-called administrative bodies were haphazard in their formation and functioning, embryonic in the truest sense of the word; the situation in Persia was not only equally confused but in addition the great amorphous mass of believers was so persecuted and suppressed that it took years for the Guardian to create any kind of order out of their chaos; other countries were equally ignorant of the principles of the Administrative Order of the Cause. The British Bahá'ís had spontaneously formed in 1922 a "Bahá'í Council" to foster national affairs; India had a National Assembly in some form, for Shoghi Effendi states, during 1923, that although Burma has its own "Central Council" it is nevertheless under the jurisdiction of the "All Indian National Assembly"; in 1921 Germany had held a National Convention, but a national body was not elected until 1922. During the early years of the unfoldment of the Administration the affairs of the Bahá'ís in Persia, in the Caucasus and in Turkistan were administered in each area by one prominent local Assembly fulfilling the functions of a National Assembly of National Council, pending the time when a representative and free National Convention could take place. Thus far `Abdu'l-Bahá before His passing, and Shoghi Effendi and the Bahá'ís immediately after His passing, had been able to bring the new-born Bábe of Bahá'í Administration. In 1922 there cannot have been, throughout the Bahá'í world, more than one body - the American one - which remotely resembled a nationally elected National Assembly as we now know it.

This dispersed, heterogeneous, unorganized but loyal mass of believers throughout the world had other handicaps to overcome. The Persian friends, though fully aware of the completely independent character of their Faith - an independence they had unstintingly sacrificed their lives to assert - nevertheless had not yet succeeded in cutting themselves off completely from certain

Page 343

national customs and evils at complete variance with the teachings of its Founder. There was still a twilight-land of overlapping with the customs of Islam and the many abuses to which its gradual decline had given rise over the centuries. The principle of monogamy was neither strictly practised nor properly understood; the drinking of alcohol was still widespread; the categoric ban of Bahá'u'lláh on the use of narcotics had not been fully grasped in a land riddled through and through with the pernicious use of opium and other drugs. In the West, particularly in America where the largest group of its occidental followers was to be found, the Bahá'ís, however attached they might be to this new Faith they had accepted, were still entangled with church affiliations and membership in various societies, which only serve to dissipate their extremely limited resources, squander their capacity for concerted and concentrated activity for the Cause of God and weaken any claims they might make as to its independent character. Neither in the East nor in the West were the Bahá'ís clear in their minds as to the degree they should shun all political affiliations and activities. Shoghi Effendi attacked this somewhat nebulous condition of the Bahá'í world in two ways. The first was to create a universal, consistent and coherent method of carrying on Bahá'í community life and organizing its affairs, based on the Teachings and the Master's elaboration of them; and the second was to educate the believers in an understanding of the objectives and implications of their religion and the truths enshrined in it.

Shoghi Effendi's genius for organization - one of his strongest characteristics, no doubt divinely created in him to fulfil the needs of the Formative Age of the Faith - became increasingly manifest and the uniform system of national and local Assemblies was quickly and carefully built up by him throughout the world. The first step was to get the national body in America properly named and duly elected as such. Immediately after the announcement of the provisions of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Will a number of prominent America Bahá'ís proceeded to Haifa to visit the Shrines and their Guardian. One of these, Corinne True, reports to Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on 4 May 1922 that: "The spirit of the Convention was very wonderful and a new era in the Bahá'í Cause has been inaugurated through your letter. Sixty-five centres throughout Canada and the United States had delegates present...I tried to present to these friends the plan you had instructed me upon while I was in Haifa...The result of this Convention was the election of

Page 344

the 'National Spiritual Assembly' or Executive Board...These nine men and women are your servants at all times, begging confirmation from the Centre of the Covenant, that they may render you faithful service in all affairs for the advancement of the Cause..." Mrs True, as well as a number of the other old Bahá'ís who had received instructions from Shoghi Effendi in Haifa during the first months of his Guardianship, was elected to this Assembly.

On 4 April 1923 Shoghi Effendi cabled this new national body "strongly urge re-election all local Assemblies first Ridvan April 21". The repercussions of this emphasis Shoghi Effendi placed on the need for system and uniformity in Bahá'í elections and what the proper title of these Bahá'í bodies should be, seem to have gone out all over the Bahá'í world. There was a movement everywhere, constantly encouraged and fostered by him, to elect local Assemblies and get them to function according to the principles `Abdu'l-Bahá had already laid down, but which had not received sufficient attention. In spite of these early efforts to ensure Assemblies were actually formed, this was a task Shoghi Effendi had to pursue actively for many years, as very often the friends completely neglected to elect or re-elect their local body. The Bahá'ís,eager, but confused, welcomed this guidance from their Guardian. As he clarified matters for them things evidently grew clearer to him too. In carbon copies of two of his letters written in December 1922 to National representatives one finds the terms "the Spiritual National Assembly" and the "Spiritual Local Assemblies". He later adopted permanently the more descriptive terms "National Spiritual Assembly" and "Local Spiritual Assembly". In that same month he had written to the believers in Paris, France: "it would give me genuine satisfaction and pleasure to learn of the establishment of a local Spiritual Assembly, properly constituted, efficiently functioning, and officially recognized by the members of the great Bahá'í family. I would strongly urge you if such an assembly has not yet been founded to establish such a definite and fixed centre for the Cause which, though at first may appear a mere matter of form, will not only fill a gap in the uniform administration of the Movement throughout the world but would, I am certain, prove a nucleus around which would gather many a soul in future..." It is not surprising that when Shoghi Effendi approached the Bahá'ís with as much love, tact and straightforwardness as this extract from one of what must have been many similar letters

Page 345

shows, he should meet with universal co-operation, and whenever the response came he was quick to congratulate and praise. In this case he waited over a year until he cable Paris "hearty congratulations on inauguration of Assemblee Spirituelle".

Some communities already had, in response to `Abdu'l-Bahá'í encouragement, established committees. Correspondence in 1922 and 1923 between `Abdu'l-Bahá and the American National Assembly shows that there were in existence such National committees as Teaching, Publishing and Reviewing, Children's Education, Library, Star of the West, Race Amity and National Archives. In going over the Guardian's early acts and communications it is both astonishing and fascinating to see how everything that was there at the end of his ministry was there at the beginning too. As the years went by he amplified his thoughts and elaborated his themes, himself matured, and the Cause matured with him, but it was all quite complete in embryo when he first started directing the affairs of the Faith. The instructions he had given the earliest national bodies and communities were only different in quality, but not in kind, at the end of his life. Take for instance his cable to the American National Convention in 1923 "...You stand at this challenging hour in the history of the Cause at the threshold of a new era; the functions you are called upon to discharge are fraught with immense possibilities; the responsibilities you shoulder are gave and momentous; and the eyes of many peoples are turned... towards you, expectant to behold the dawning of a Day that shall witness the fulfilment of His Divine Promise." Almost thirty-five years of future events are caught up in those short phrases.

The education of the Bahá'ís in the principles underlying Bahá'u'lláh's social system became, for many years, the paramount concern of the Guardian. They were used to believing in the Teachings, to trying to spread them amongst their fellow men, to at least a modicum of community life through feasts, meetings and commemoration of their Holy Days. They were not used to working in an organized manner as members of an organization in the truest sense of that word. They were also not used to keeping the system of communication within the Faith open. Shoghi Effendi realized from the outset that the work that lay before him required that he, in particular, should have a thorough knowledge of what was going on in the Bahá'í communities throughout the world and of the state of their activities and their response to the up-building of the administrative system of the Cause. This required a close

Page 346

correspondence with not only all the national bodies, but with all the local Assemblies; the national bodies were weak or practically non-existent, the local Assemblies usually even weaker. He felt it essential to be in contact with them all, East and West. In December 1922 he informed the American National Assembly: "I would be pleased and gratified if you could inform all the various local spiritual assemblies of my wish and desire to received as soon as possible from every local assembly a detailed and official report on their spiritual activities, the character and organization of their respective assemblies, account of their public and private gatherings, of the actual position of the Cause in their provinces and of their plans and arrangements for the future. Pray convey to all of them my best wishes and the assurance of my hearty assistance in their noble work of service to mankind." He wrote to the German national Assembly, in the same vein, a year later: "I am so desirous to receive from the National Spiritual Assembly frequent, comprehensive and up-to-date reports on the present position of the Cause throughout Germany, with an account of the activities of the various Bahá'í Centres recently established throughout that land."

His plan was not only to collect information at the World Centre but to stimulate and encourage the oppressed oriental communities through relaying to them glad-tidings from their sister communities in the WEst. He made this clear in a letter to the New York Local Assembly written in February 1924: "As I have already intimated in my first letter to the National Spiritual Assembly, I shall be most please to receive from every Bahá'í Centre throughout America regular comprehensive reports on the position of the Cause and the activity of the friends. These I shall gladly transmit to the friends throughout the East who in their present hour of restlessness and turmoil will, I am sure, be cheered to hear of the steady and peaceful growth of the Faith in your land...awaiting your joyful news..."

This system was to work two ways, as he had already written to the "National Council" of the british Bahá'ís in December 1922: "I am now starting correspondence with every Bahá'í local Centre throughout the East and will not fail to instruct and urge the believers everywhere to send directly through their Spiritual Local Assemblies the joyful tidings of the progress of the Cause, in the form of regular detailed reports, to the various assemblies of their spiritual brethren and sisters in the West." He wrote to the Leipzig

Page 347

Bahá'ís: "I await lovingly and eagerly your letters". He wrote to the Japanese believers: "It is my hope that the friends in Japan will from now on write me frequent and detailed letters, setting forth the account of their various spiritual activities, and giving me the plans for their future services to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh." To the Bahá'ís in the Pacific Islands he wrote the same. Such sentiments were expressed over and over in his earliest letters to local centres in various countries. But it was not easy to stimulate the concrete response he sought. Much of his time, throughout his entire ministry, was spent in recalling the Bahá'ís to their duties and tasks. "Expecting frequent comprehensive reports from National Assembly" he cabled America in 1923. "No letter from National Assembly last two months" he cabled them in 1924. "Awaiting eagerly National Assembly's detailed frequent reports" he cabled India in 1925. Such reminders were by no means infrequent and went out to more than one country.

In their hearts the Bahá'ís, a sincere and loving group of people gathered about Bahá'u'lláh in belief and confidence, were deeply aware of their international bond of unity in faith. But this was not sufficient. The time had come for a dynamic, working, every-day consciousness of this to take place. In addition to creating a uniform system of Bahá'í elections and flow of reports and correspondence to him and from him, Shoghi Effendi took steps to greatly reinforce and reinvigorate certain Bahá'í publications already in existence when he became Guardian and which had been encouraged and supported by `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. The Star of the West , published in America, was the oldest and most famous of these. In addition there were the Sun of Truth published in Germany, The Dawn published in burma, the Bahá'í News of India published there, and the Khorshid-i-Khavar published in Ishqabad. To all these Shoghi Effendi gave his enthusiastic support. He wrote to the Bahá'ís in Syria, in February 1923, that they should subscribe and contribute to the Bahá'í magazines the Star of the West , the Bahá'í News of India and the Khorshid-i-Khavar of the Russian believers. The standard he set for such publications was eloquently expressed in a letter to the editors of The Dawn in Burma, written two months later: "Universal in its outlook, progressive and practical in the measures it advocates, faithful to its sacred traditions and principles of the Cause, thorough in its methods, impartial in its views, and elevated and impressive in style, may it advance resolute and unhindered, towards the

Page 348

fulfillment of its destiny." During these first months of 1923 he wrote to the Editor of the Indian Bahá'í News: "I have recently requested the friends of throughout Persia, Turkistan, Caucasus, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, America, Great Britain, Germany, Syria and Palestine to contribute regularly to the Bahá'í News of India reports of their activities and carefully written articles on spiritual matters, hoping thereby to widen its sphere and enhance its value as one the leading organs of the Bahá'í community throughout the world...I shall follow every stage of its progress with hopeful interest and shall not fail to contribute by share of assistance in the noble task it has purposed to achieve." Similar letters were sent to both Germany and America, urging the same policy in respect to their own Bahá'í magazines. He repeatedly urged the different national communities of the Bahá'í world to send news and appropriate articles to these various publications in order to support them, propagate the Faith and inspire the believers.

In addition to this Shoghi Effendi inaugurated a "circular letter which the Haifa Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly forwards every nineteen days to all Bahá'í Centres throughout the East." This was in Persian. It had an English counterpart. "The Spiritual Assembly which has been established in Haifa", he wrote to the Swiss Bahá'ís in February 1923, "will from now on send you regularly the news of the Holy Land..." This Haifa News Letter, closely supervised by the Guardian himself, with material provided by him, continued to be sent out until the Haifa Spiritual Assembly was disbanded by Shoghi Effendi at the time he sent the local community away in 1938 and 1939. Measures such as these had the effect of a giant spoon by which he vigorously stirred the entire community of the faithful all over the world, blending, stimulating, challenging its component parts to great action, co-operation and understanding.

But what, we should pause and ask, was this Administration the Guardian was so tirelessly working to establish? As it evolved it would, he said: "at once incarnate, safeguard and foster" the spirit of this invincible Faith. It was unique in history, divinely conceived and different from any system which had existed in the religions of the past. Fundamentally it was the vehicle of a future World Order and World Civilization which would constitute no less than a World Commonwealth of all nations on this planet. Though its entire structure of elected bodies was based on principles of universal suffrage and election by secret ballot, its ultimate

Page 349

workings were conceived of in a different light, for, unlike the paramount principle of democracy by which the elected are constantly responsible to the electors, Bahá'í bodies are responsible at all times to the Founder of their Faith and His teachings. Whereas in democracy the ruling factor at the top can go no higher than their own councils and their decisions are subject to the scrutiny and approval of those they represent, this ruling factor in the Cause of God is at once the servant of all the servants of God - in other words the body of the faithful - but responsible to a higher factor, divinely guided and inspired, the Guardian or sole interpreter, and the Universal House of Justice, the supreme elected body, or sole legislator. It will be seen that in this system the people, divorced from the corrupt influences of nomination, political canvassing and the violence of those whims and dissatisfactions so easily engendered in the masses by the working of the democratic principle alone, are free to choose those they deem best qualified to direct their affairs and safeguard their rights on the one hand, and to protect and serve the interests of the Cause of God on the other.

The elected Bahá'í bodies might be likened to a great network of irrigation pipes, selected and put together by the people for their own benefit. but life-giving waters from on high flow through this system, independent of the people, independent of any will of the pipes, and this water is the divinely guided and inspired counsels of the Guardian and the Supreme Body of the Cause, which they receive, in this Bahá'í dispensation, from no less a source than the twin Manifestations of God. The system of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi wrote, "cannot ever degenerate into any form of despotism, of oligarchy, or of demagogy which must sooner or later corrupt the machinery of all man-made and essentially defective political institutions." Already, in 1934, Shoghi Effendi was able to write of the workings of this system, which was rapidly growing and spreading its roots steadily throughout the Bahá'í world, that it had evinced a power which a "disillusioned and sadly shaken society" could ill afford to ignore. The vitality of its institutions, the obstacles overcome by its administrators, the enthusiasm of its itinerant teachers, the heights of self-sacrifice attained by its champion-builders, the vision, hope, joy, inward peace, integrity, discipline and unity that were manifested by its stalwart defenders, the manner in which diversified peoples were cleansed of their prejudices and fused into the structure of this system - all testified,

Page 350

Shoghi Effendi wrote, to the power of this ever-expanding Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

Shoghi Effendi had the qualities of true statesmanship. Unlike many of the Bahá'ís, who, alas are prone like Icarus to take off on wings of wax, full of hope and faith alone, Shoghi Effendi forged his flying machine of airworthy materials, building it carefully, piece by piece. Within the first few years of his ministry he had created uniformity in essential matters of Bahá'í Administration. He had established his bed-rock of local Assemblies and a national body, wherever the national communities were strong enough to support such an institution. By 1930 he had nine of these, which were listed in the "Bahá'í Directory" of the American National Assembly as follows: Caucasus, Egypt, Great Britain, Germany, India and Burma, Iraq, Persia, Turkistan and that of the United States and Canada. Those of the Caucasus, Turkistan and Persia were for many years of a different nature from the others in the sense that no National Convention could be held for delegates to meet freely and elect their national institution. Nevertheless, a governing body existed (referred to in English as a National Assembly by the Guardian, but in Persian by a different term from that later used when Persia's national election took place), and carried on the communities' national affairs; the situation in Russia, however, led to the dissolution of the National Assemblies of the Caucasus and Turkistan when all Bahá'í activity there was later completely suspended.

In his labours to establish the Administrative Order of the Faith Shoghi Effendi found himself ably seconded by capable and devoted co-workers in both the West and the East who seemed to have been raised up by God for the purpose of catching the vision of the Guardian, responding to his instructions and behests, interacting on his mind with constructive suggestions, and swift to implement his wishes and adapt them to the local need.

Concurrent with this almost sudden coalescence of the Administrative Order went the other process of education in the true meaning and implications of the Faith - an education no one but him who had been given the sole right to interpret its teachings could have carried out. As one cannot separate the vehicle from the spirit let us try and catch a glimpse of some of the salient truths Shoghi Effendi called to our attention throughout the years.

One of the most wonderful things about Shoghi Effendi was that he pushed the horizons of our minds even further away. His vision

Page 351

of the Cause was seen from the Everest of his all-embracing understanding of its implications. In thirty-six years nothing every grew smaller, everything grew bigger and bigger. There was infinite room not only to breathe but to dream. Bahá'u'lláh was the Inaugurator of a five-hundred-thousand-year cycle. He was the culmination of a six-thousand-year cycle of prophecy beginning with Adam. Withal, His Revelation was but part of an infinite chain of Divine Guidance. The Guardian summed up this concept in his masterly statement submitted to the United Nations Special Palestine Committee: "The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'llá that religious truth is not absolute but relative, the Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the non-essential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. The aim of Bahá'u'llá not to destroy but to fulfil the Revelations of the past...His to restate the basic truths which these teachings enshrine in a manner that would conform to the needs...of the age in which we live...Nor does Bahá'u'lláh claim finality for His own Revelation, but rather stipulates that a fuller measure of truth...must needs be disclosed at future stages in the constant and limitless evolution of mankind."

In that same statement he places the Administrative Order, in words of crystal clearness, in its proper relationship to this Revelation: "The Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, which is destined to evolve into the Bahá'í World Commonwealth... unlike the systems evolved after the death of the Founders of the various religions, is divine in origin...The Faith which this Order serves, safeguards and promotes, is, it should be noted in this connection, essentially supernatural, supranational, entirely non-political, non-partisan, and diametrically opposed to any policy or school of though that seeks to exalt any particular race, class or nation. It is free from any form of ecclesiasticism, has neither priesthood nor rituals, and is supported exclusively by voluntary contributions made by its avowed adherents."

What this concept would lead to was expressed on another occasion in one of the Guardian's communications to the Bahá'ís of the West: "A world federal system, ruling the whole earth...

Page 352

blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war...a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation - such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving."

All this being so, something was very much the matter with the world. What it was Shoghi Effendi also made clear to us in The Promised Day Is Come : "For a whole century God has respited mankind, that it might acknowledge the Founder of such a Revelation, espouse His Cause, proclaim His greatness, and establish His Order. In a hundred volumes...the Bearer of such a Message has proclaimed, as no Prophet before Him has done, the Mission with which God had entrusted Him...How - we may well ask ourselves - has the world, the object of such Divine solicitude, repaid Him Who sacrificed His all for its sake?" Bahá'u'lláh's Message met, Shoghi Effendi wrote, with unmitigated indifference from the elite, unrelenting hatred from the ecclesiastics, scorn from the people of Persia, utter contempt from most of the rulers addressed by Him, the envy and malice of those in foreign lands, all of which were evidences of the treatment such a Message received from "a generation sunk in self-content, careless of its God, and oblivious of the omens, warnings and admonitions revealed by His Messengers." Man was therefore to taste what his own hands had wrought. He had refused to take the direct road leading him to his great destiny, through acceptance of the Promised One for this Day, and had chosen the long road, bitter, blood-stained, dark, literally leading him through hell, before he once again could near the goal originally placed at his fingertips for him to seize.

The words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself make abundantly clear to us what mankind, through refusing to accept His Revelation in the beginning, must expect: "We have fixed a time for you, O people! If ye fail, at the appointed hour, to turn towards God, He, verily, will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous afflictions to assail you from every direction. How severe indeed is the chastisement with which your Lord will then chastise you. " "The time for the destruction of the world and its people hath arrived. " "The promised day is come, the day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath your feet... " "Soon shall the blasts of His chastisement beat upon you, and the dust of hell enshroud you. "

From the very beginning of his ministry, steeped as he was in

Page 353

the Teachings, Shoghi Effendi foresaw the course of events seemed inevitably to be taking. As early as January 1923 he painted the picture of the future in a letter to an American local Assembly: "Individuals and nations", he wrote, "are being swept by a whirlwind of insincerity and selfishness, which if not resisted may imperil, nay destroy civilization itself. It is our task and privilege to capture gradually and persistently the attention of the world by the sincerity of our motives, by the breadth of our outlook and the devotion and tenacity with which we pursue our work of service to mankind." He was not only clear as to the situation and the remedy, but sufficiently shrewd to doubt the possibility, after eighty years of neglect on the part of humanity, of averting universal catastrophe. "The world", he wrote in February 1923, was "apparently drifting further and further from the spirit of the Divine Teachings..." Many times, in both his writings and this words to visiting pilgrims, Shoghi Effendi reminded the Bahá'ís of the formidable warning of Bahá'u'lláh: "The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing. If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation...The day is approaching when its flame will devour the cities. "

From the outset Shoghi Effendi realized that there was a great cancer eating away at the vitals of men, a materialism reaching a state of development in the West unrivalled by the decadence it had invariably produced in past civilizations when their decline set in. As very many people do not know what materialism means it can do not harm to quote Webster who defines certain of its aspects as "the tendency to give undue importance to material interests; devotion to the material nature and its wants" and says another definition is the theory that human phenomena should be viewed and interpreted in terms of physical and material causes rather than spiritual and ethical causes. Shoghi Effendi's attitude towards this subject, the evils that produce it and the evils it in turn gives rise to, is reflected in innumerable passages of his writings, beginning in 1923 and going on to 1957. In 1923 he refers to "the confusion and the gross materialism in which mankind is now sunk". A few years later he writes of "the apathy, the gross materialism and superficiality of society today". In 1927 he wrote to the American National Assembly: "in the heart of society itself,

Page 354

where the ominous signs of increasing extravagance and profligacy are but lending fresh impetus to the forces of revolt and reaction that are growing more distinct every day". In 1933, in a general letter to the American Bahá'ís, he speaks of the "follies and furies, the shifts, shams and compromises that characterize the present age". In 1934, in a general letter to the Bahá'ís throughout the West, he speaks of "the signs of an impending catastrophe, strongly reminiscent of the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West, which threatens to engulf the whole structure of present-day civilization". In that same communication he says: "How disquieting the lawlessness, the corruption, the unbelief that are eating into the vitals of a tottering civilization!" In his general letter to the Bahá'ís of the West, in 1936, he says: "in whichever direction we turn our gaze...we cannot fail to be struck by the evidences of moral decadence which, in their individual lives no less than in their collective capacity, men and women around us exhibit". In 1938 he warned of "the challenge of these times, so fraught with peril, so full of corruption" and speaks of the root-evil of all: "as the chill of irreligion creeps relentlessly over the limbs of mankind" and of "A world, dimmed by the steadily dying-out light of religion", a world in which nationalism was blind and triumphant, in which racial and religious persecution was pitiless, a world in which false theories and doctrines threatened to supplant the worship of God, a world, in sum, "enervated by a rampant and brutal materialism; disintegrating through the corrosive influence of moral and spiritual decadence".

In 1941 Shoghi Effendi castigated the prevalent trends of society in no uncertain terms: "The spread of lawlessness, of drunkenness, of gambling, and of crime; the inordinate love of pleasure, of riches, and other earthly vanities; the laxity in morals, revealing itself in the irresponsible attitude towards marriage, in the weakening of parental control, in the rising divorce, in the deterioration in the standard of literature and of the press, and in the advocacy of theories that are the very negation of purity, of morality and chastity - these evidences of moral decadence, invading both the East and the West, permeating every stratum of society, and instilling their poison in its members of both sexes, young and old alike, blacken still further the scroll upon which are inscribed the manifold transgressions of an unrepentant humanity." In 1948 he again stigmatizes modern society as being: "politically convulsed, economically disrupted, socially subverted,

Page 355

morally decadent and spiritually moribund". By such oft-repeated words as these the Guardian sought to protect the Bahá'í communities and alert them to the dangers by which they were surrounded.

However it was towards the end of his life that Shoghi Effendi dwelt more openly and frequently on this subject, pointing out that although Europe was the cradle of a "godless", a "highly-vaunted yet lamentably defective civilization", the foremost protagonist of that civilization was now the United States and that in that country, at the present time, its manifestations had led to a degree of unbridled materialism which now presented a danger to the entire world. In 1954, in a letter to the Bahá'ís of the United States, couched in terms he had never used before, he recapitulated the extraordinary privileges this Community had enjoyed, the extraordinary victories it had won, but said it stood at a most critical juncture in its history, not only its own history but its nation's history, a nation he had described as "the shell that enshrines so precious a member of the world community of the followers" of Bahá'u'lláh. In this letter he pointed out that the country of which the American Bahá'ís formed a part is passing through a crisis which, in its spiritual, moral, social and political aspects, is of extreme seriousness - a seriousness which to a superficial observer is liable to be dangerously underestimated.

"The steady and alarming deterioration in the standard of morality as exemplified by the appalling increase of crime, by political corruption in ever-widening and ever-higher circles, by the loosening of the sacred ties of marriage, by the inordinate craving for pleasure and diversion, and by the marked and progressive slackening of parental control, is no doubt the most arresting and distressing aspect of the decline that has set in, and can be clearly perceived, in the fortunes of the entire nation.

"Parallel with this, and pervading all departments of life - an evil which the nation, and indeed all those within the capitalist system, though to a lesser degree, share with that state and its satellites regarded as the sworn enemies of that system - is the crass materialism, which lays excessive and ever-increasing emphasis on material well-being, forgetful of those things of the spirit on which alone a sure and stable foundation can be laid for human society. It is this same cancerous materialism, born originally in Europe, carried to excess in the North American continent, contaminating the Asiatic peoples and nations, spreading its ominous

Page 356

tentacles to the borders of Africa, and now invading its very heart, which Bahá'u'lláh in unequivocal and emphatic language denounced in His Writings, comparing it to a devouring flame and regarding it as the chief factor in precipitating the dire ordeals and world-shaking crises that must necessarily involve the burning of cities and the spread of terror and consternation in the hearts of men."

Shoghi Effendi reminded us that `Abdu'l-Bahá, during His visit to both Europe and America, had, from platform and pulpit, raised His voice "with pathetic persistence" against this "all-pervasive, pernicious materialism" and pointed out that as "this ominous laxity in morals, this progressive stress laid on man's material pursuits and well-being" continued, the political horizon was also darkening "as witnessed by the widening of the gulf separating the protagonists of two antagonistic schools of thought which, however divergent in their ideologies, are to be commonly condemned by the upholders of the standard of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh for their materialistic philosophies and their neglect of those spiritual values and eternal verities on which alone a stable and flourishing civilization can be ultimately established."

The Guardian constantly called to our attention that the objectives, standards and practices of the present-day world were, for the most part, in opposition to or a corrupt form of what the Bahá'ís believe and seek to establish. The guidance he gave us in such matters was not confined to issues as blatant and burning as those cited in the above quotations. He educated us as well - if we accept to be educated by him - in matters of good taste, sound judgment and good breeding. So often he would say: this is a religion of the golden mean, the middle of the way, neither this extreme nor that. What he meant by this was not compromise but the very essence of the thought conveyed in these words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself: "overstep not the bounds of moderation "; "whoso cleaveth to justice can, under no circumstances, transgress the limits of moderation." We live in perhaps the most immoderate society the world has ever seen, shaking itself to pieces because it has turned its back on God and refused His Messenger.

Shoghi Effendi did not see this society with the eyes that we see it. Had he done so he would not have been our guide and our shield. Whereas the Manifestation of God appears from celestial realms and brings a new age with Him, the Guardian's station and function was entirely different. He was very much a man of the

Page 357

twentieth century. Far from being alien to the world in which he lived one might say he represented the best of it in his clear and logical mind, his unembarrassed, uninhibited appraisal of it. His understanding of the weaknesses of others, however, produced in him no compromise, no acceptance of wrong trends as evils to be condoned because they were universal. Too much stress cannot be laid on this point. We are prone to think that because a thing is general it is the right thing; because our leaders and scholars hold a view, it is the right view; because experts assure us that this, that or the other thing is proper and enduring they speak with the voice of authority. No such complacence afflicted Shoghi Effendi. He saw everything in the world today - in the realm of politics, morality, art, music, literature, medicine, social science - against the framework of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. Did it fit into the guiding lines laid down by Bahá'u'lláh? It was a sound trend. Did it not? It was on a wrong and dangerous track.

Shoghi Effendi gave us, over the years, what I like to call "guiding lines", clarification of great principles, doctrines and thoughts in our religion. Only a few can be arbitrarily selected for a work of this scope, but they are ones which to me have a special significance in shaping our Bahá'í outlook in the world we live in today. One of the most fallacious modern doctrines, diametrically opposed to the teachings of all religions, is that man is not responsible for his acts but is excused his wrongdoing because it is brought about by conditioning factors. This is a contention with which Shoghi Effendi had no patience, for it was not in accordance with the words of Bahá'u'lláh: "That which traineth the world is justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the source of life to the world. " Individuals, nations, Bahá'í communities, the human race, are all held accountable for their acts. Though there are many factors involved in all our decisions, the essence of Bahá'í belief is that God gives us the chance, the help, and the strength, to make the right one and that for it we will be rewarded and failing it we will be punished. This concept is almost the opposite of the teachings of modern psychology. This principle was brought home very vividly to me in my personal life. When the beloved Guardian did me the great and unexpected honour of choosing me to be his wife, I had the idea that for me, at least, all my troubles of wondering what my spiritual end would be were over. I was going to be near him. It was like dying and going to heaven where nothing more could get at me. One day, in the course

Page 358

of conversation, Shoghi Effendi said to me words to this effect: "Your destiny lies in the palm of your own hand!" I was horrified! It had come back to me, the life-long struggle to do the right thing for the sake of my own soul.

The Guardian's relationship with the entire Bahá'í world, as well as individuals, officials and non-Bahá'ís, was based on this principle. He was immensely patient, but in the end punishment was swift and just; his rewards were swift too, and to me seemed always greater than deserved by those who received them.

The highest standards of literature and language are reflected, whether in Persian, Arabic or English, in the writings of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. No debased coin of words was used by any of them. I remember once when a pilgrim sincerely and modestly remonstrated with the Guardian about the difficulty ordinary people in America had in understanding his writings and suggested he make them a little bit easier. The Guardian pointed out, firmly, that this was not the answer; the answer was for people to raise their standard of English, adding, in his beautiful voice with its beautiful pronunciation - and a slight twinkle in his eye - that he himself wrote in English. The implication that a great deal of the writing on the other side of the Atlantic did not always fall in this category was quite clear! He urged Bahá'í magazines to use an "elevated and impressive style" and certainly set the example himself at all times.

When I was first married I was a little apprehensive of what the Guardian's attitude might be towards modern art. Loving the great periods of art in our own and other cultures I wondered what I would do if I found he admired modern trends in painting, sculpture and architecture. I need have had no fears. Occasionally we were able to visit famous European museums and art galleries together. I soon discovered, to my great relief, that his love of symmetry and beauty, of a mature style and a noble expression of real values, was deep and true. The blind search for a new style, however sincere and logical it may be, which has followed upon the general crumbling of the old order of things in the world, Shoghi Effendi never mistook for the evidence of a new, evolved expression of art, least of all a Bahá'í expression of anything. He knew history too well to mistake the lowest point of decay, the reflection of a decadent and moribund society, for the birth of a new style inspired by Bahá'u'lláh's World Order! He knew the fruit is the end product of the growth of the tree and not the first; he knew that a

Page 359

world system, drawing strength from world peace and unification, must come first and then be followed by the flowering, in the Golden Age, of a new, mature expression of art. Lest there be any doubt of this, look at the superstructure of the Shrine of The Báb and the International Archives building which he built; look at the four designs of the Temples for Mt Carmel, Tehran, Sydney and Kampala he himself chose. They were admittedly conservative, based on past experience; but they were also based on styles that had withstood the test of time and would continue to do so until a new and organically evolved style could be produced as the world evolved under the influence of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. I wrote down one remark of his made when viewing a design that had been submitted for the Kampala Temple: "Poor Africans! They became Bahá'ís to gather under such monstrosities?" He came to the defence of his much-loved brothers and sisters in that continent through ordering for them a design created at the World Centre and which he himself liked and approved. One has only to turn to his own letters for confirmation. In letters he wrote in 1956 to two different National Assemblies about two different Temples his secretary stated his views as follows: "He feels that, as this is the Mother has a very great importance; and must under all circumstances be dignified, and not represent an extremist point of view in architecture. No one knows how the styles of the present day may be judged two or three generations from now; but the Bahá'ís cannot afford to build a second Temple if the one they build at the present time should seem too extreme and unsuitable at a future date." "He was sorry to have to disappoint Mr. F" ...However, there was no possible questions of accepting something as extreme as this. The Guardian feels very strongly that, regardless of what the opinion of the latest school of architecture may be on the subject, the styles represented at present all over the world in architecture are not only very ugly, but completely lack the dignity and grace which must be at least partially present in a Bahá'í House of Worship. One must always bear in mind that the vast majority of human beings are not either very modern or very extreme in their tastes, and that what the advanced school may think is marvellous is often very distasteful indeed to just plain, simple people."

The same thoughts that moved the Guardian as regards literature and art applied to his feelings about music, of which he had a great love.

Page 360

What one gleans from the above is that the Guardian desired to safeguard the Cause, to maintain for it and its precious institutions a standard of dignity and beauty that would protect its Holy Name, the sacred nature of its institutions, its international character, its newness and promise, from the whims and caprices of an age in transition and from the undue influence of a corrupt, wholly western civilization. For it should be borne in mind that until the present time the majority of the followers of the Faith have been of Aryan extraction, whereas the majority of the human race is not. I remember watching the face of the first Japanese Bahá'í pilgrim when Shoghi Effendi, with those wonderfully expressive eyes of his fixed upon him, said that as the majority of the human race was not white there was no reason why the majority of Bahá'ís should be white. The emphasis and openness with which Shoghi Effendi stated this was clearly a revelation to this man from the Far East who was returning from a protracted stay in the United States.

How many Bahá'ís appreciate the fact that just as chastity, honesty and truthfulness are required of them, courtesy, dignity and reverence are qualities upheld in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh? One of Shoghi Effendi's early cables to America stresses this point: "Dignity of Cause requires restraint use Master's voice record." The sense of the holiness of things is one of the greatest benedictions for man. Many times the Guardian brought this to our attention in instructions such as these: "ensure no one photographs Báb's portrait during display." To gaze upon the reproduction of the face of the Manifestation of God, were it The Báb or Bahá'u'lláh, was a unique privilege, to be approached as such, not just as one more reproduction to be passed about from hand to hand.

Shoghi Effendi's exposition of the teachings on the role certain

nations have been called upon to play in history at the inception of the Bahá'í Cycle was illuminating, thought-provoking and often at sharp variance with our own limited understanding. The reason Persia was the Cradle of the Faith and America the Cradle of its Administrative Order was based on the teaching that the greatest power in the world is the power of the Holy Spirit, a divine alchemy which can transmute the base material of copper into the precious metal of gold. In The Advent of Divine Justice the Guardian educated us in this fundamental truth: "To contend", he wrote, "that the innate worthiness, the high moral standard, the political aptitude and social attainments of any race or nation is the reason for the appearance in its midst of any of these Divine

Page 361

Luminaries, would be an absolute perversion of historical facts, and would amount to a complete repudiation of the undoubted interpretation placed upon them, so clearly and emphatically, by both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá." He goes on to say that such races and nations as are chosen specially by God must unreservedly recognize and courageously testify to the fact that they have been so chosen because of their crying needs, their lamentable degeneracy, their irremediable perversity, and not because of any racial superiority, political capacity or spiritual virtue. For such reasons as these The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh had chosen Persia to be the Cradle of the Faith and America the Cradle of its World Order. Through the fulfilment of this great law the glory of God is manifest and man is made to realize that the source of his own powers and glory is God alone. That members of "one of the most backward, the most cowardly, and perverse of peoples" should, when they accepted the Divine Message, have been transformed into a race of heroes "fit to effect in turn a similar revolution in the life of mankind", was proof of the regenerating spirit of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. The same principle applied, Shoghi Effendi stated, to America: "It is precisely by reason of the patent evils which, notwithstanding its other admittedly great characteristics and achievements, an excessive and binding materialism has unfortunately engendered within it" that it has been singled out to become the standard-bearer on the New World Order. "It is by means such as this", he went on to say, "that Bahá'u'lláh can best demonstrate to a heedless generation His Almighty power to raise up from the very midst of a people immersed in a sea of materialism, a prey to one of the most virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice, and notorious for its political corruption, lawlessness and laxity in moral standards, men and women who, as time goes by, will increasingly exemplify those essential virtues of self-renunciation, of moral rectitude, of chastity, of undiscriminating fellowship, of holy discipline and spiritual insight" which will fit them to play a preponderating role in the establishment of Bahá'u'lláh's World System.

When Shoghi Effendi was beginning to write The Advent of Divine Justice he was one day expatiating on this theme and suddenly stated that the United States was the most corrupt country politically in the world. I was simply stupefied by this remark as I had always taken it for granted that it was because of our system of democracy and our political prominence that God had chosen us

Page 362

to build His Administrative Order! I ventured to remonstrate and said surely Persia was more corrupt politically. He said no, America was the most corrupt politically. He must have seen in my face how hard and unbelievable this new idea was for me to accept for he suddenly pointed his finger at me and said: "Swallow it, it is good for you." I swallowed it and kept silent and as he elaborated this theme, and when he wrote his memorable passages on it, and, indeed, in the course of years, I came to see clearly how he was enunciating, clarifying from the teachings, great spiritual laws and truths in which lie healing and strength for us if we but grasp them. We derive no advantage, as Bahá'ís, from having the wrong concepts, from colouring the teachings of the Divine Educator with our limited, prejudiced, environment-produced ideas. Nothing is improved or rendered more serviceable by distortion. That is why I think of these great themes, these statements of truth given us by the Guardian, as guiding lines of thought which enable us to see things as they are and obtain a correct understanding of our Faith.

This factual, realistic approach of the Guardian meant that he not only estimated the true force of the Cause but was also aware of its limitations at the present time. He never confused the two. In a letter to a non-Bahá'í youth leader in the United States, in 1926, he said: "We believe that the spirit of the Cause is gradually directing peoples and nations, and that all Bahá'ís are called upon to do is to persevere in their advocacy of the sublime principles revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. They will never hold aloof from the great humanitarian endeavours of the true leaders of public thought and always welcome every opportunity of raising their voice, in conjunction with other movements, on behalf of peace, truth and justice." In spite of this he had no illusions as to how much power we could wield. In July 1939 he wrote to the American National Assembly (representing the freest and most powerful community of the Bahá'í world) that they could not impose their will upon those in whose hands the destiny of the Persian Bahá'ís lay; that they were not yet capable of launching a campaign of sufficient magnitude to capture the imagination and arouse the conscience of mankind and thereby ensure the redress of the wrongs their persecuted brethren were suffering; that they could wield no power at the present time in the councils of nations commensurate with the claims and greatness of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh; nor could they assume a position and exercise responsibilities that would enable

Page 363

them to "reverse the process which is urging so tragically the decline of human society and its institutions."

It was, Shoghi Effendi wrote in 1948, "not ours to speculate, or dwell upon the immediate workings of an inscrutable Providence presiding alike over the falling fortunes of a dying Order and the rising glory of a Plan holding within it the seeds of the world's spiritual revival and ultimate redemption." Many times he spoke to the pilgrims about two plans: our own internal one - the workings of the Divine Plan, which lies in our hands to implement - and Almighty God's over-all Plan for the entire planet, which He was implementing in His own way, through forces outside the Cause, to achieve and hasten His own ends. To the degree the Bahá'ís work within the framework of their own Plan and labour for its speedy fulfilment - the establishment of the Kingdom of the Lord of Hosts throughout the world - will Bahá'u'lláh's blessings be rained upon them; to the degree to which the world ignores His Message and pursues its own perverse ends will the visitation of God descend on peoples and nations alike, pounding, crumbling, grinding them into one world because they have refused to create that world peaceably through the instructions given them by God's Messenger in this day.

The sharp distinction between the coalescence of Bahá'u'lláh's followers in a unified, spiritually motivated world system and the disintegration, side-taking and hatred decimating the races, religions and political parties of the world, was constantly pointed out by the Guardian and the dangers involved if the Bahá'ís did not hold themselves strictly aloof from these dissensions repeatedly emphasized. In September 1938, as humanity drifted towards the precipice of a second world war, Shoghi Effendi cabled a stern warning and unambiguous instruction to the believers on this policy of strict neutrality: "Loyalty World Order Bahá'u'lláh security its basic institutions both imperatively demand all its avowed supporters particularly its champion-builders American continent in these days when sinister uncontrollable forces are deepening cleavage sundering peoples nations creeds classes resolve despite pressure fast crystallizing public opinion abstain individually collectively in word action informally as well in all official utterances publications from assigning blame taking sides however indirectly in recurring political crises now agitating ultimately engulfing human society. Grave apprehension lest cumulative effect such compromises disintegrate fabric clog channel

Page 364

grace that sustains system God's essentially supranational supernatural order so laboriously evolved so recently established."

The patriotism of Bahá'ís is not manifest in an allegiance to national prejudices and political systems but rather in two ways: to serve one's country by fostering its highest spiritual interests and my implicit obedience to government, whatever that government may be. The Guardian pointed out, in 1932, that the extension of Bahá'í activities throughout the world and "the variety of the communities which labour under divers forms of government, so essentially different in their standards, policies and methods, make it absolutely essential for all...members of any one of these communities to avoid any action that might, by arousing the suspicion or exciting the antagonism of any one government, involve their brethren in fresh persecutions..." and went on to say: "How else, might I ask, could such a far-flung Faith, which transcends political and social boundaries, which will have to rely increasingly, as it forges ahead, on the good-will and support of the diversified and contending governments of the earth - how else could such a Faith succeed in preserving its unity, in safeguarding its interests, and in ensuring the steady and peaceful development of its institutions?" On another occasion Shoghi Effendi wrote: "Let them proclaim that in whatever country they reside, and however advanced their institutions, or profound their desire to enforce the laws, and apply the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavouring to conduct and perfect the administrative affairs of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country's constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their Administration to supersede the government of their respective countries." A telegram of the Guardian, sent in 1930 to one of the Near Eastern Assemblies, points very clearly to the correct Bahá'í attitude: "unless government objects formation Assembly essential". The Bahá'ís, as Shoghi Effendi said so aptly, belong to no political party but to "God's party". They are the agents of His Divine Polity.

The freedom of a sovereign state to pursue its own policies - however detrimental they might be to Bahá'í interests - was upheld by Shoghi Effendi in 1929 when the Soviet Government expropriated the first Bahá'í Temple of the world. In spite of the

Page 365

sorrow this action caused the Guardian he wrote that because of the articles of its own constitution the authorities had acted "within their recognized and legitimate rights". When every appeal had failed of its purpose, he instructed the Bahá'ís in that country to obey the decrees of their Government, trusting that in time, as he wrote, God would "lift the veil that now obscures the vision of their rulers, and reveal the nobility of aim, the innocence of purpose, the rectitude of conduct, and the humanitarian ideals that characterize the as yet small yet potentially powerful Bahá'í communities in every land and under any government."

It must not be thought that as this Faith grew in strength and passed from victory to victory there was a change in this fundamental policy enunciated by Shoghi Effendi only eight years after he became Guardian. Far from it. In 1955 he cabled a message to all National Assemblies, at a time when the number of countries enrolled under the banner of the Faith had almost doubled during two years, appealing to the believers who were engaged in the mightiest Crusade ever launched since the inception of the Faith "whether residing homelands overseas however repressive regimes under which they labour ponder anew full implications essential requirements their stewardship Cause Bahá'u'lláh...rise higher levels consecration vigilantly combat all forms misrepresentations eradicate suspicions dispel misgivings silence criticisms through still more compelling demonstration loyalty their respective governments win maintain strengthen confidence civil authorities their integrity sincerity reaffirm universality aims purposes Faith proclaim spiritual character its fundamental principles assert non-political character its Administrative institutions..."

There are three factors involved in this question of loyalty to government yet complete aloofness from politics: one is obedience, another is wisdom and the third is the use of approved legal channels. Too often the factor of wisdom is overlooked, and yet the Guardian made it abundantly clear that it should always be considered, not only in these words "the variety of the communities which labour under divers forms of government...make it absolutely essential for all...members of any one of these communities to avoid any action that might, by arousing suspension or exciting the antagonism of any one government, involve their brethren in fresh persecutions..." but in his repeated instructions to different communities and individuals that they must exercise the greatest wisdom in serving the Faith. In a world where press and radio are

Page 366

hourly pouring out accusations, indictments and abuse upon the systems and policies of other nations, the Bahá'ís cannot be too wise. When one remembers the pride and joy of Shoghi Effendi when in the very heart of Islam the first Spiritual Assembly was formed, the lavish praise he bestowed upon the pioneer responsible - who was of Jewish background in addition to being a Bahá'í and thus endangered his life twice over - and recalls that for two years this man did not open his mouth to betray he was a Baha'i, until the day when, in fear and trembling and with a prayer in his heart, he invited his first prospective believer into the back of his shop and began to broach the subject of the Faith, one gets an idea of what Shoghi Effendi meant by wisdom.

In various countries he forbade the Bahá'ís to seek publicity and told them to shun all contact with certain sects and nationalities who, if they heard of the Faith or accepted it, could place the entire work of the pioneers in jeopardy. This was the essence of wisdom and every time it was ignored it led to disaster.

On the other hand, in different countries at different times, the Guardian strongly urged the Assemblies and the pioneers, wherever the way was open to do so, to protect the interests of the Faith through legal channels and through securing for it legal recognition, as well as through ensuring the support of public opinion through the media of the press and radio.

In such matters of policy as these, however, which affect the international interests and well-being of the Faith, guidance and protection must come from the World Centre, which, by its very nature, is the sole authority in a position to use its judgment on such vital and delicate questions.

Another great guiding line of thought was the Guardian's exposition of what unity means in the Bahá'í teachings. Shoghi Effendi wrote the "the principle of unification which" the Cause "advocates and with which it stands identified" the enemies of the Faith "have misconceived as a shallow attempt at uniformity"; "Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'llá repudiates excessive centralization on the one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity..." The principle of the Oneness of Mankind, Shoghi Effendi stated, though it aimed at creating "a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life" was nevertheless to be a world "infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units." He

Page 367

wrote of "the highly diversified Bahá'í society of the future" and, urging the Bahá'ís to pay special attention to winning the adherence to the Faith of different races, said: "A blending of these highly differentiated elements of the human race, harmoniously interwoven into the fabric of an all-embracing Bahá'í fraternity and assimilated through the processes of a divinely-appointed Administrative Order, and contributing each its share to the enrichment and glory of Bahá'í community life, is surely an achievement the contemplation of which must warm and thrill every Bahá'í heart." This Faith, Shoghi Effendi wrote, "does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world."

In an age of proselytizing, when nations and blocks of nations, various societies and organizations are hammering away at people's minds day and night, seeking to make them over in their own image, seeking to force their political systems, their clothes, their way of living, their housing, their medical systems, their philosophy and moral and social codes on each other, it is surely of the greatest importance for Bahá'ís to ponder their own teachings and the illuminating interpretation of them given by their Guardian. The Western World today has a passion for uniformity. As fast as it can it is trying to make everyone alike. The result is that while much good is undoubtedly being spread, and material benefits are reaching an ever-larger number of people, many things diametrically opposed to the methods and objectives of Bahá'u'lláh are also taking place.

One of the things our western materialism is rapidly spreading - in addition to irreligion, immorality and the worship of money and possessions - is a wave of despair, unrest and a feeling of deep inferiority among the so-called backward peoples of the world. We might well pause to contrast the impact - so deadly - that this self-importance, self-satisfaction and wealth is having upon other peoples with where the Guardian placed the emphasis in his relation to such peoples. Why did Shoghi Effendi keep and publish such exhaustive lists of the "races" and the "tribes" enlisted under the banner of the Faith? Did he perhaps collect them, each as a separate pearl, to weave into precious adornments for the body of Bahá'u'lláh's Cause? Why did he hang on the walls of the Mansion in Bahji a picture of the first Pygmy Baha'i, and the first descendant of the Inca Indians to accept the Faith? Surely it was not as

Page 368

curiosities or trophies but rather because the beloved Josephs of the world were come home to the tent of their Faith. So well I remember when Shoghi Effendi discovered that one of his pilgrims was a descendant of the old royal family of Hawaiian kings. He seemed to radiate with a joy and delight that was almost tangible and this glow enveloped a man whose portion in life had been mostly compounded of scorn for his native blood! It must not be thought that such things were personal peculiarities of Shoghi Effendi or matters of policy. Far, far from it. It was the reflection of the very essence of the teachings that each division of the human race is endowed with gifts of its own needed to make the new Order of Bahá'u'lláh diversified, rich and perfect.

Not only did Shoghi Effendi preach this, he actively pursued it, through announcements, appeals and instructions to Bahá'í Assemblies: "First all red Indian Assembly consolidated Macy Nebraska" he cabled triumphantly in 1949. Constantly remembering `Abdu'l-Bahá'í words in the Tablets of the Divine Plan to "give great importance to teaching the Indians, i.e., the aborigines of America ", Shoghi Effendi pursued this objective until the last months of his life, when he wrote, in July 1957, to the Canadian National Assembly, that the "long overdue conversion" of the American Indians, the Eskimos and other minorities should receive such an impetus "as to astonish and stimulate the members of all Bahá'í communities throughout the length and breadth of the Western Hemisphere".

A year before, in one of Shoghi Effendi's letters to the United States National Assembly, his secretary had written: "The beloved Guardian feels that sufficient attention is not being paid to the matter of contacting minorities in the United States...He feels your Assembly should appoint a special committee to survey the possibilities of this kind of work, and then instruct local Assemblies accordingly, and in the meantime encourage the Bahá'ís to be active in this field, which is one open to everybody, as the minorities are invariably lonely, and often respond to kindness much more quickly than the well-established majority of the population."

The natural outcome of this policy is the unique attitude the Bahá'í Faith has towards minorities, which was set forth so clearly by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice : "To discriminate against any race, on the ground of its being socially backward, politically immature, and numerically in a minority, is a flagrant

Page 369

violation of the spirit that animates the Faith". Once a person accepts this Faith "every differentiation of class, creed or colour must automatically be obliterated, and never be allowed, under any pretext, and however great the pressure of events or public opinion, to reassert itself." Shoghi Effendi then goes on to state a principle so at variance with the political thinking of the entire world that it deserves far more consideration than we usually give it: "If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community, enlisted under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots has been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community." Shoghi Effendi once expressed the workings of this principle so succinctly and brilliantly that I wrote it down in his own words: "the minority of a majority is more important than the majority of a minority." In other words it is not the numerical strength or weakness in the nation that is the index of a minority, but its numerical strength or weakness inside the Bahá'í community holding the election - so great is the protection of any minority. The Guardian used to say that when the day came that a Bahá'í state existed the rights of non-Bahá'í religious minorities would be rigorously protected by the Bahá'ís.

The Bahá'í Faith not only safeguards society as a whole and protects the rights of minorities, it upholds the rights of the individual, internationally the individual nation, and within the community, the individual human being. "The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh," Shoghi Effendi wrote, "implies the establishment of a world which the autonomy

Page 370

of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded."

Staunchly as the Guardian upheld the authority of the Assemblies, he was also a stout defender of the individual believer and had a deep bond of love with the "rank and file" of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh. Scarcely an appeal was made to the Bahá'í world or to national communities that did not address the individual Bahá'í and not only encourage his initiative, but point out that without it all plans must fail. In a letter to the American National Assembly in 1927 he wrote: "In my hours of prayer at the Holy Shrines, I will supplicate that the light of Divine Guidance may illumine your path and enable you to utilize in the most effective manner that spirit of individual enterprise which, once kindled in the breasts of each and every believer and directed by the Majestic Law of Bahá'u'lláh, imposed upon us, will carry our beloved Cause forward to achieve its glorious destiny." He pointed out, in The Advent of Divine Justice , that it was the duty of every believer "as the faithful trustee of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine initiate, promote, and consolidate" any activity he or she considered would assist in the fulfilment of that Plan, always providing this was done within the limits fixed by the administrative principles of the Faith. He told the American National Assembly that while retaining the guidance of Bahá'í affairs and the right of final decision in its own hands it should "foster the sense of interdependence and copartnership, of understanding and mutual confidence" between itself and the Assemblies and individual believers.

The humble have ever been singled out for unique blessings. In 1925 Shoghi Effendi wrote: "Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored and inexperienced among the friends will, by sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given Assembly." The Guardian was a passionate admirer of the meek and pure in heart and disliked aggressive and, particularly, ambitious individuals. His appeals for pioneers made his attitude quite plain. During the Seven Year Plan he wrote: "no believer, however humble," was to feel himself debarred from participation in the great pioneer movement taking place, and obstacles should not be put in the way of those who wished to go forth and serve, "whether young or old, rich or poor". He went very much further, in The Advent of Divine Justice , when he

Page 371

wrote: "all must participate, however humble their origin, however limited their experience, however restricted their means, however deficient their education, however pressing their cares and preoccupations, however unfavourable the environment in which they live...How often...have the lowliest adherents of the Faith, unschooled and utterly inexperienced, and with no standing whatever, and in some cases devoid of intelligence, been capable of winning victories for their Cause, before which the most brilliant achievements of the learned, the wise, and the experienced have paled." Shoghi Effendi then points out that if Christ, the Son, was able to infuse into Peter, who was so ignorant he divided his food into seven portions and rested when he came to the seventh, knowing it was the Sabbath, such spirit as to enable him to become His successor, then what must the power of Bahá'u'lláh, the Father, be to empower the puniest and most insignificant of His followers to achieve wonders that will dwarf the achievements of the first apostle of Jesus. Not satisfied with emphasizing the duties of the humble, the Guardian, in no uncertain terms, also admonished those of a different category: "It is therefore imperative for the individual American believer, and particularly for the affluent, the independent, the comfort-loving and those obsessed by material pursuits, to step forward, and dedicate their resources, their time, their very lives to a Cause of such transcendence that no human eye can even dimly perceive its glory." He said, most touchingly, that "the heart of the Guardian cannot but leap with joy, and his mind derive fresh inspiration, at every evidence testifying to the response of the individual to his allotted task."

The question of who is a believer and how he becomes one and is knit into the supple but well organized, world-wide Administrative Order of the Faith, was quite clear to Shoghi Effendi - though not always so clear to the Bahá'ís themselves. It must be understood that at all times the Guardian saw the Cause as a growing and living thing, expanding at different rates in difference places. There must be uniformity in essentials; there could be and needed to be diversity in other matters. A Ford car, for instance, being a machine, is the same car everywhere. But the members of a large family, not remotely being machines, are all different, each at a different age, at a different stage of growth. No one expects of the five-month-old grandson the same conduct and understanding as the university-professor-of-physics grandfather of the family. From the very beginning more was expected of the old, oriental

Page 372

communities, particularly in Persia, than of the younger, western Bahá'í communities such as those in America and Europe, and a great deal more was expected of these than, for instance, the still younger communities in Africa and the Pacific. We must always bear in mind that Islam, next to our own Faith, is the world's youngest revealed religion. The Bahá'ís coming from this background are closer, so to speak, to the laws given us by Bahá'u'lláh because His law grew out of and at the same time abrogated, in many instances, the laws of Islam. It is therefore not surprising that the believers who came from this background should have been expected to conform to the Bahá'í pattern in matters of personal status and to follow from the outset those laws and ordinances of Bahá'u'lláh which could be applied in the society in which they lived, and that those who accepted the Faith and came from the background of either paganism or much older revealed religions should require more, gradual and patient education until they too could do so.

Before trying to understand what entitles a person to be a Bahá'í let us first try to see how the Guardian conceived of an managed the Cause of God. If we study the course of past religions we see that one of the main ills which has affected them was the strong tendency of their followers to want to get the mobile, expansive, inspiring power of the Faith into moulds, to crystallize it into forms. A religion is a growing thing. Shoghi Effendi himself gave the most beautiful and poetic description of this natural process of growth in his message to the Intercontinental Conference held in Chicago in 1953, in which he likened the history of religion to a tree, which grew for thousands of years, from the days of Adam until the days of The Báb, putting forth branches, leaves, buds, blossoms and finally producing a Holy seed which was the Manifestation and Revelation of The Báb. That Seed, ground in the mill of martyrdom after only six years of existence, had yielded an oil whose light had flickered upon Bahá'u'lláh in the Siyah-"Ch al, whose fire had gathered brilliance in Baghdad and shone resplendently in Adrianople, whose rays had later been cast upon the fringes of the American, European and Australian continents, whose radiance was now overspreading the entire globe during this Formative Age and whose full splendour, he said, was destined in the course of future millenniums to suffuse the entire planet. How nascent then must be our present stage of development!

Little minds instinctively seek to circumscribe the things

Page 373

around them, to pull in the walls to the size of their own small existence, to get everything squared off to their own scale so they can feel safe and snug. This process invariable means that a lot of the material used in their walls is from the last house they lived in, is very much what they were accustomed to before they moved, so to speak. Big minds, on the contrary push the horizons farther away, create new frontiers, leave room for growth. It is not difficult, when one read over the letters to and from the Guardian, to see how he kept a perfect balance between what was wise and essential for the present stage of the Faith, and what would unduly circumscribe its unfoldment and crystallize its living teachings into a premature form, too small, too national or provincial, too sectarian or racial, to expand into a World Order, with its attendant would government and world society. I have often wondered in the course of my Bahá'í life why so many people who are eminently practical and sensible in their lives as business men, doctors, lawyers, ditch-diggers or whatever it may be, do not carry these faculties into their Bahá'í activity. It is almost as if to them Utopia was a film and all you had to do was project it on a screen and it would become reality.

Not so the Guardian. He went about his own tasks - building up the Administrative Order, implementing the Divine Plan of `Abdu'l-Bahá, organizing his work and the work of the Bahá'í world - very much as the great Renaissance painters created their vast frescoes and canvases. First came the cartoon, the whole idea, scale, colour, proportion; then it was quartered, divided into a grid a squares; this was transferred to the permanent surface and the great guiding lines filled in, the outlines, the figures in shadow; then came the detail and colours, applied with infinite patience until perfection was achieved. Such was the method of Shoghi Effendi and he allowed no one to start painting in figures or details before the canvas was ready to take them. What does this mean in actual facts?

So many examples come to one's mind. After the Master's passing, we wanted the House of Justice the next day. It had to wait forty-two years, until a foundation to support it, tier on tier of local Assemblies and National Assemblies was built, on which it could firmly stand. We wanted the Aqdas in English. Slowly, much of it was translated and given us by Shoghi Effendi himself as he repeatedly quoted from it; the few laws and ordinances and details not already given were to come later; they required very

Page 374

careful work, part of which he undertook himself at the end of his life. Many times an enthusiastic individual or group wanted to start, now, at once, in some quiet country spot, a Bahá'í settlement where all the economic teachings could be put in practice - the Utopia projection on the flat not in the round - but the answer from Shoghi Effendi would come: now is not the time, concentrate on increasing the number of believers, groups, Assemblies. We wanted to build a school in the capital; no, not in the capital, where any failure would humiliate the Cause, with its limited funds and workers, but in the bush, a simple, humble beginning. We wanted a Bahá'í university - it never seemed to occur to the writer, who in his own life probably never got into debt or tried to pretend he was a millionaire, that such an undertaking would paralyse every other national activity and even require funds, already so limited, that were being used to open the whole world to the Faith! Every instinct prevented Shoghi Effendi from embarking on what is known in commerce as over-expansion. Risks he would take, but always reasonable ones and never foolish ones. His judgment was equal to his faith. Miracles he firmly believed in, but he never treated the Almighty as if He were a conjuror. If we study the life of `Abdu'l-Bahá we see there too this wonderful balance between the practical, reasonable mind and the sublime assurance of faith.

A small, but no less indicative example comes to mind. What about Spiritualism? "The Guardian does not feel that this is the time for him to make any special statement on this subject," his secretary wrote, "...there are more important things for the friends to concentrate their attention upon, namely the establishment of new assemblies and groups." So often the answer was the same, not the right time, not yet. Plant the Banner of Bahá'u'lláh in the farthest corners of the earth, bring into His fold humanity, lay the foundations of the Kingdom, don't start putting nicknacks about in a house not even built.

From the earliest days of his ministry Shoghi Effendi set about creating order in what was then a very small Bahá'í world, barely existing in some of the thirty-five countries which had received at least a ray of illumination from the Light of Bahá'u'lláh. the great, guiding lines were clear in his mind and as he grew older, and the community of believers grew and increased in experience, these lines became clearer and details were added. `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself in His Will and Testament had foreshadowed this unfoldment when He said of the Guardian, "that day be day he may wax

Page 375

greater in happiness, in joy and spirituality, and may grow to become even as a fruitful tree. " Time and space do not permit of a chronological recapitulation of this evolution. We must try to catch the great vision he gave us and see how the details were gradually filled in. So often, as I listened to and observed Shoghi Effendi, I felt he was the only real Bahá'í in the world. Everyone else, claiming to be a Baha'i, had a portion of the Faith, an angle on it, a concept, however large, tinctured by his own limitations, but the Guardian saw it as a whose, in all its greatness and perfect balance. He had not only the capacity to see but to analyse and express with brilliant clarity what he saw.

For instance take this epitome of what he felt the Bahá'í Faith is in the scheme of things: " should be stated that the Revelation identified with Bahá'u'lláh abrogates unconditionally all the Dispensations gone before it, upholds uncompromisingly the eternal verities they enshrine, recognizes firmly and absolutely the Divine origin of their Authors, preserves inviolate the sanctity of their authentic Scriptures, disclaims any intention of lowering the status of their Founders or of abating the spiritual ideals they inculcate, clarifies and correlates their functions, reaffirms their common, their unchangeable and fundamental purpose, reconciles their seemingly divergent claims and doctrines, readily and gratefully recognizes their respective contributions to the gradual unfoldment of one Divine Revelation, unhesitatingly acknowledges itself to be but one link in the chain of continually progressive Revelations, supplements their teachings with such laws and ordinances as conform to the imperative needs, and are dictated by the growing receptivity, of a fast evolving and constantly changing society, and proclaims its readiness and ability to fuse and incorporate the contending sects and factions into which they have fallen into a universal Fellowship, functioning within the framework, and in accordance with the precepts, of a divinely conceived, a world-unifying, a world redeeming Order." Immediately one sees where this "greatest religious Dispensation in the spiritual history of mankind" fits into the panorama of history.

This Faith, "at once the essence, the promise, the reconciler, and the unifier of all religions", had, as its "primary mission", the establishment of a Divine Civilization. I remember in the course of a conversation Shoghi Effendi had with a former teacher of his at the American University in Beirut, how beautifully he answered this man's question as to what was the purpose of life to a Baha'i.

Page 376

The Guardian answered that the object of life to a Bahá'í was to promote the oneness of mankind. He then went on to point out that Bahá'u'lláh had appeared at a time when His Message could and should be directed to the whole world and not merely to individuals; that salvation today was through world salvation, world change, world reform of society and that the world civilization resulting from this would in turn reflect upon the individuals composing it and lead to their redemption and reformation. Over and over Shoghi Effendi made it clear in his writings and talks that the two processes must go on together - reform of society, reform of personal character. There was never any doubt that individual regeneration, as he wrote to a non-Bahá'í in 1926, was the "sure and enduring foundation on which a reconstructed society" could develop and prosper. But how could one create a pattern for future society, even a tiny embryo of the future World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh, if all around its fringes it was still interwoven with the fabric of that society which was dying out, must die out, to make way for the new?

Shoghi Effendi took up his scalpel - the interpretation of the writings of the Faith - and began to cut. Although the reading aright of our doctrines showed that there was only one religion, that of God Almighty, all down the ages, and the Prophets were its exponents at various times in history, the fact remained, Shoghi Effendi made us understand, that the duty of man in each new Dispensation was to adhere to it in all its forms and cut one's self away from the outer forms and secondary laws of the previous religion. How could any honest Christian remain in the church and pray for the coming of the Father and His Kingdom while in his heart he very well knew Bahá'u'lláh was the Father and the Kingdom was beginning to emerge through the establishment of His laws and system as reflected and embodied in the Administrative Order? The Bahá'ís - East and West - had vaguely understood this to a greater or lesser degree in different places, but now through the communications of the Guardian, they began to see a sharp line where shadow and light met, with no comfortable twilight zone of compromise with family feelings, community opinion, personal convenience left. You were expected to either get in or get out. This had a purifying and stiffening effects on the entire body of believers the world over and made them, as never before, conscious of the fact that they were a world body of people, the people of the new Day, of the new Dispensation. To use a homely simile: if Bahá'u'lláh

Page 377

had built the boat, it was the Master who had got up steam and Shoghi Effendi who cast off the hawsers and calmly set sail. As the years went by not only the non-Bahá'ís began to look at us with new eyes, but we began to look at ourselves with new eyes. We gradually came to realize we were not a new aspect of the society in which we lived, we were the new society, we were the future.

It is in the light of this process that we must see how the emphasis shifted, over the years, in relation to the acceptance of new Bahá'ís. During the first decade-and-a-half of Shoghi Effendi's ministry Bahá'í bodies, in the West in particular, were encouraged to be sure that those who became Bahá'ís were well aware of the greatness of the step they took. A clear break with the past was required of them. "Otherwise", Shoghi Effendi wrote in 1927, "those whose faith is still unripe may thereby remain indefinitely along the circumference and continue in their attitude of half-hearted allegiance to the teachings of the Cause in their entirety." During those years the Faith rose in fame and stature, won in many western lands recognition as an independent religion with laws and a system of its own - greatly helped in this process by the ruling of a Muslim court in Egypt which stated we were not part of Islam but as a distinct from it as Christianity or Judaism - and became increasingly acknowledged as a Faith in its own right. Shoghi Effendi, however, constantly vigilant and unnaturally sensitive to whatever affected the life of the Cause, detected a trend amongst the administrative institutions of carry his original instruction in such matters (given in 1933) that the Assemblies should be "slow to accept" new believers, too far. A new rigidity was in danger of frustrating the main animating purpose of all Bahá'í institutions - to convert mankind to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The Bahá'ís, in their eagerness to obey Shoghi Effendi's instructions, had gone to extremes and were so interested in screening applicants that it was getting difficult to become a Bahá'í at all. In 1938 Shoghi Effendi, therefore, found it necessary to instruct the American Assemblies "to desist from insisting too rigidly on the minor observations and beliefs, which might prove a stumbling block in the way of any sincere applicant" and pointed out the duty of Bahá'í communities was to nurse the new believers, subsequent to their acceptance of the Faith, into Bahá'í maturity.

As the Faith grew in inner cohesion and strength, as National Assembly after National Assembly was formed in East and West and began to function strongly and systematically, as the people of

Page 378

the world became increasingly aware of the existence of this new religion as an independent Revelation with a system of its own, the instructions of Shoghi Effendi changed. Particularly during the great Ten Year Plan of Teaching and Consolidation the whole emphasis in relation to the enrolment of new Bahá'ís was modified; now we were strong, now our foundations had been unassailably laid, now we could deal, at last, at last, with the masses of mankind in all the countries of the world. Fling open the doors and bring them into the ark of Bahá'u'lláh's salvation! The time had come to obey `Abdu'l-Bahá'í injunction: "Summon the people in these countries, capitals, islands, assemblies and churches to enter the Abhá Kingdom. " In other words having achieved his end Shoghi Effendi changed his tactic. He informed the American National Assembly that the fundamental and primary requisites a candidate should have were acceptance of the stations of The Báb, the Forerunner; Bahá'u'lláh, the Author; and `Abdu'l-Bahá, the Exemplar of the Faith; submission to whatever They had revealed; loyal and steadfast adherence to the provisions of the Will of the Master; and close association with the spirit and form of the world-wide Bahá'í Administration. These were the "principal factors" and any attempt to analyse and elucidate further, he said, would only lead to barren discussion and controversy and be detrimental to the growth of the Cause. He ended up his exposition on this delicate subject by urging the friends, unless some particular circumstance made it absolutely necessary, to "refrain from drawing rigidly the line of demarcation".

The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi were the Great Teachers. Their ministries - each so different in character were primarily devoted to the sublime aim of bringing all mankind under the tent of this healing, peace-giving, soul-regenerating Faith. Over and over again, insistently, for thirty-six years Shoghi Effendi rallied us to "the preeminent task of teaching the Faith to the multitudes...a task", he assured us in his last Ridvan Message to the Bahá'í world," once so sacred, so fundamental, and so urgent; primarily involving and challenging every single individual; the bed-rock on which the solidity and the stability of the multiplying institutions of a rising Order must rest - such a task must, in the course of this year, be accorded priority over every other Bahá'í activity", a task to which Bahá'u'lláh Himself had accorded priority, as Shoghi Effendi repeatedly reminded us, supporting

Page 379

with quotations such as these: "Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Baha, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds. " "Centre your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God." "This is the day in which to speak. It is incumbent upon the people of Bahá to strive, with the utmost patience and forbearance, to guide the peoples of the world to the Most Great Horizon [Himself]." "Unloose your tongues, and proclaim unceasingly His Cause. This shall be better for you than all the treasures of the past and the future... " Bahá'u'lláh attached such importance to the teachings of His Cause that He firmly admonishes His followers that whoso is unable to go forth himself, "it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation". Shoghi Effendi wrote in 1938 that this "Mandate of Teaching, so vitally binding upon all," should become "the all-pervading concern" of every individual Bahá'í and that the Assemblies should, at each of their sessions, set aside time for the "earnest and prayerful consideration of such ways and means as may foster the campaign of teaching."

The Guardian made it quite clear that the one who was teaching should "refrain, at the outset, from insisting on such laws and observances as might impose too severe a strain on the seeker's newly-awakened faith...Let him not be content until he has infused into his spiritual child so deep a longing as to impel him to arise independently, in his turn, and devote his energies to the quickening of other souls, and the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly-adopted Faith."

If one compiled what the Guardian has written on the subject of teaching it would be a good-sized book. But one sees throughout that the objective was clear, the duty fixed, the methods adaptable and fluid. Shoghi Effendi used so many words in connection with new Bahá'ís and their acceptance of Bahá'u'lláh: he called them "converts", "candidates", "avowed adherents", "new believers", "unreserved" supporters of the Faith and many other descriptive and satisfying names; he said they were "enrolled", "converted", "declared their faith", "embraced the Faith", "enlisted" under Bahá'u'lláh's banner, "espoused His Cause", "joined the ranks" of the faithful and so on. In an age of banal, stereotyped cliches we might do well to remember this. I might add that I never heard him debase acceptance of the Supreme Manifestation of God into that horrible and meaningless phrase when applied to spiritual rebirth,

Page 380

"he signed his card." Shoghi Effendi never gave up the correct use of the English language because certain words had developed an unpopular connotation. The Bahá'í Faith has neither priest nor missionary - but the Bahá'ís undertook "missionary journeys" for the avowed purpose of "conversion".

Page 381

In making any attempt to give a coherent picture of what Shoghi Effendi called the first epoch in the evolution of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan - an epoch which he stated began in 1937 and would end in 1963, and comprised "three successive" crusades - one must go back and study his writings chronologically, for in them the clear reflection of his mind and the emergence of the scheduled pattern of his plans can be discerned. Ever since the passing of his beloved Master the whole object of the Guardian's existence was to fulfil His wishes and complete His works. The Divine Plan, conceived by Him, in one of the darkest periods in human history was, Shoghi Effendi stated, "`Abdu'l-Bahá'í unique and grand design," embodied in His Tablets to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, with which the destinies of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the North American Continent would "for generations to come remain inextricably interwoven"; for twenty years it had been held in abeyance while the agencies of a slowly emerging Administrative Order were being created and perfected for "its efficient, systematic prosecution". How much importance the Guardian attached to this fundamental concept, often stressed by him, we are prone to forget, so let us turn to his actual words. During the opening years of the first Seven Year Plan, in 1939, he wrote to the American community: "Through all the resources at their disposal, they are promoting the growth and consolidation of that pioneer movement for which the entire machinery of their Administrative Order has been primarily designed and erected." Eighteen years later Shoghi Effendi's view on this subject was the same, for he wrote to one of the European National Assemblies in August 1957, shortly before his passing: "Less substantial, however, has been the progress achieved in the all-important teaching

Page 382

field, and far inferior the acceleration in the vital process of individual conversion for which the entire machinery of the Administrative Order has been primarily and so laboriously erected."

It was the Guardian who had "so laboriously erected" this "machinery", with the help of willing and eager tools he found amongst the North American believers, who grasped his thought, obeyed his command and hastened to put into action his instructions. It was the Guardian alone who possessed the divine and indefeasible right to direct the battle of Bahá'u'lláh's forces of light against the forces of darkness. "Soon ", He had written, "will the present day Order be rolled up and a new one spread out in its stead ". In was an Order which had upset the very equilibrium of the world as men knew it. Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá had produced a scion not only capable of grasping Their vision, but of organizing both Their teachings and Their followers.

If we view aright what happened in 1937 at the beginning of the first Seven Year Plan, we see that Shoghi Effendi, now in his fortieth year, stepped out as the general leading an army - the North American Bahá'ís - and marched off to the spiritual conquest of the Western Hemisphere. While other generals famous in the eyes of the world, were leading vast armies to destruction all over the planet, fighting battles of unprecedented horror in Europe, Asia and Africa, this unknown general, unrecognized and unsung, was devising and prosecuting a campaign more vital and far-reaching than anything they could ever do. Their battles were inspired by national hates and ambitions, his by love and self-sacrifice. They fought for the preservation of dying concepts and values, for the past order of things. He fought for the future, with its radiant age of peace and unity, a world society and the Kingdom of God on earth. Their names and battles are slowly being forgotten, but Shoghi Effendi's name and fame is rising steadily, and his victories rise in greatness with him, never to be forgotten. The sun of his genius and achievements will shine for a thousand years as part of the light of the Bahá'í Dispensation.

In reviewing the overwhelming volume of material on the subject of the Guardian's Plans, we must never forget that although the first organized implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Spiritual Mandate to the American believers (and let us note that this term does not refer to the Bahá'ís of the United States alone but to the believers of North America) took place with the initiation of the first Seven Year Plan, a body of devoted American followers of

Page 383

the Faith, the majority of whom Shoghi Effendi pointed out were "women pioneers", had already arisen, in immediate response to the Tablets of the Divine Plan presented to the Eleventh Annual Bahá'í Convention in New York in 1919, and had proceeded to Australia, the northernmost capitals of Europe, most of its Central States, the Balkan Peninsula,the fringes of Africa and Latin America, some countries in Asia and the island of Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean. During thirty-six years Shoghi Effendi never forgot the services of these souls or ceased to name them. He made it clear, however, that such overseas teaching enterprises of the American Bahá'ís had been "tentative" and "intermittent". With the inauguration of the first Seven Year Plan a new epoch had begun.

When the Divine Plan will come to an end we do not know. The legend goes that where the rainbow touches earth there is a pot of gold, so the end of our glorious rainbow may well rest in the Golden Age of our Faith. The significance of the Divine Plan has been elaborated by the Guardian in innumerable passages. It was, he wrote, "the weightiest spiritual enterprise launched in recorded history"; "the most potent agency for the development of the World Administrative System"; "a primary factor in the birth and efflorescence of the World Order itself in both the East and the West." The American believers, "the privileged recipients of these epoch-making Tablets", "the vanguard of the dawn-breakers of Bahá'u'lláh's Order", were the ones in whose hands Providence had placed a key, the promulgation of the Divine Plan, with which they would unlock the door leading them to the fulfilment of their unimaginably glorious destiny. This Plan of the Master, as they faithfully prosecuted it through its unfolding phases, would, Shoghi Effendi assured them, lead, in the Golden Age of our Faith, to the fulfilment of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í own promise to them: their elevation to the "throne of an everlasting dominion ", when "the whole earth " would "resound with the praises " of their "majesty and greatness."

With Shoghi Effendi everything was clear: there was The Plan, and then there were plans and plans! There were, after the inauguration of the first Seven Year Plan, in the course of many years, and in various parts of the world, a Nineteen Month, Two Year, Three Year, Forty-five Month, Four-and-a-Half Year, Five Year, Six Year and other plans; but whether given by him, or spontaneously initiated by the Bahá'ís themselves, he knew where

Page 384

to place them in the scheme of things. There was a God-given Mission, enshrined in a God-given Mandate, entrusted to the American believers; this Mission was their birthright, but they could only fulfil it by obeying the instructions given them in the Master's Tablets of the Divine Plan and winning every crusade they undertook: the other plans, Shoghi Effendi wrote in 1949, "are but supplements to the vast enterprise whose features have been delineated in those same Tablets and are to be regarded, by their very nature, as regional in scope, in contrast with the world-embracing character of the Mission entrusted to the community of the champion builders of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, and the torch-bearers of the civilization which that Order must eventually establish."

If Shoghi Effendi was the general, undoubtedly his chief of staff was the American Assembly; it got its orders direct from him and the rapport was intimate and complete. But he never forgot that the glory of an army is its soldiers, the "rank and file", as he forthrightly called them. He never ceased to appeal to them, to inspire them, to love them and to inform them that every North American believer shared a direct responsibility for the success of the Plan. Knowing how prone human nature is to be diverted from any purpose, he constantly reiterated the tasks undertaken, the responsibility assumed, the immediate need. When the different crusades approached their end and the success of various aspects of the work seemed to hang in the balance, his appeals rose in a veritable crescendo and swept the Bahá'ís to victory. In reading over thirty-six years of his communications to the American believers it almost seems as if he had lived amongst them. Certainly they lived with him, did they but know it, in his life, his thoughts, his prayers, his plans - and his worries. But let them comforted, they brought him much joy, gave him much hope and never caused him to despair. May their record be unblemished.

Shoghi Effendi, very much like a volcano before it erupts, had a way of giving premonitory rumbles. In 1933 he cabled the American Convention that all eyes were on it, it had a great opportunity to release forces which would usher in an era whose splendour "must outshine Heroic Age our beloved Cause...Supreme Concourse waiting for them to seize it." He became more specific in his message to the Bahá'ís gathered at the Temple in 1935 to celebrate the completion of its dome: "New hour struck...calling for nation-wide systematic, sustained efforts teaching field..." Ten

Page 385

weeks later he is even more categoric, and indeed prophetic, for one seems to feel the first cold shadow of the coming war: "This new stage in the gradual unfoldment of the Formative Period of our Faith into which we have just entered - the phase of concentrated teaching activity - synchronizes with a period of deepening gloom, of universal impotence, of ever-increasing destitution and wide-spread disillusionment in the fortunes of a declining age." To the 1936 Convention he cabled that the opportunities of the present hour were unimaginably precious and urged them to ponder the "historic appeal voiced by `Abdu'l-Bahá Tablets Divine Plan", and consult on how to ensure its "complete fulfillment", at a moment when humanity was "entering outer fringes most perilous stage its existence." At the end he gives up the pearl that has been growing in his own heart: "Would to God every state within American Republic every Republic American continent might ere termination this glorious century embrace light Faith Bahá'u'lláh establish structural basis His World Order." We were off! It was the opening salute of the Divine Plan!

The first Seven Year Plan had a "triple task": one, to complete the exterior ornamentation of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in the Western World; two, to establish one local Spiritual Assembly in every state of the United States and every province in Canada; three, to create one centre in each Latin American Republic "for whose entry into the fellowship of Bahá'u'lláh" Shoghi Effendi wrote "the Plan was primarily formulated." Every nation in the Western Hemisphere was to be "woven into the fabric of Bahá'u'lláh's triumphant Order" and he pointed out to us that there were twenty independent Latin American Republics "constituting approximately one-third of the entire number of the world's sovereign states" and that the Plan was no less than an "arduous twofold campaign undertaken simultaneously in the homeland and in Latin America."

A little over two years after the initiation of this historic teaching drive Europe went to war; another two years passed and the United States - and practically the whole planet - was at war. Its seven-year activity took place in the face of the greatest suffering and darkest threat the New Word had ever experienced. The degree to which Shoghi Effendi watched over, encouraged and guided this first great Plan of the Divine Plan is unbelievable. Messages streamed from him to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada. In 1937 he

Page 386

informed them that to carry out the dual enterprises of this Plan would shed a "lustre no less brilliant" on the closing years of the first Bahá'í Century, "than the immortal deeds which have signalized its birth, in the Heroic Age of our Faith." In 1938 he told them the "deepening gloom" of the Old World invested their labours with a "significance and urgency" that could not be overestimated. The Latin American campaign was "one of the most glorious chapters in the international history of the Faith", and upon its success depended future Plans. It marked, the cabled them the "inauguration long-deferred world mission constituting `Abdu'l-Bahá'í distinctive legacy Bahá'í Community North America." It was the "opening scene of the First Act of that superb Drama whose theme is no less than the spiritual conquest of both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres." With all this it was still to be viewed as "a mere beginning, as a trial of strength, a stepping-stone to a crusade of still greater magnitude..."

After two years of the Plan had run their course, when the exterior ornamentation of the Temple was satisfactorily progressing and a series of ardent appeals from him (as well as a contribution of nine hundred pounds which he had felt "irresistibly urged" and "proud" to contribute toward the permanent pioneer settlement of the nine still unsettled states and providence in North America) had ensured that all the preliminary steps had been taken on the home front - Shoghi Effendi waved his arm and directed the march of his forces down the coasts and over the islands of Central America, following, as he cabled, in a "methodical advance along line traced pen `Abdu'l-Bahá". In spite of his own ever-growing burdens and anxieties he informed the friends he wished to keep personally in contact with pioneers in North, Central and South America. What those letters of his meant to the pioneers "holding", as he said, "their lonely posts in widely scattered areas throughout the Americas", only those who received them can truly judge, but I myself wonder if this, or later crusades would ever have been won without this communion he had with the believers. His love, encouragement and understanding kept them anchored to their posts. Not a few are still where they are because of letters signed "Your true brother, Shoghi".

A year after the outbreak of the "world-encircling conflagration", whose fires, Shoghi Effendi wrote, had first been lit in the Far East, ravaged Europe, enveloped Africa and now threatened not only the World Centre but America - the "chief remaining

Page 387

Citadel" of the Faith as he termed it - there were only two Latin American Republics still to receive pioneers. The inhabitants of the "remaining citadel" had certainly discharged their duty of "carrying the sacred Fire to all the Republics of the Western Hemisphere" in a most notable manner. The believers in Persia were being persecuted; the Faith was dissolved in Russia and its confiscated Temple was in danger; in Western, Southeastern and Central Europe the Bahá'ís were repressed, and in Germany banned; in North Africa they were the object of fanatical religious attacks; the progress of the war had placed the World Centre itself in great danger. No wonder Shoghi Effendi wrote to the American believers that "The hopes and aspirations of a multitude of believers, in both the East and the West, young and old, whether free or suppressed," hung on the "triumphant consummation" of their labours! No wonder he appealed to them to "dare greatly, toil unremittingly, sacrifice worthily, endure radiantly, unflinchingly till very end." No wonder he assured them that: "The grandeur of their task is indeed commensurate with the mortal perils by which their generation is hemmed in. As the dusk creeps over a steadily sinking society the radiant outlines of their redemptive mission become sharper every day. The present world unrest, symptom of a world-wide malady, their world religion has already affirmed must needs culminate in that world catastrophe out of which the consciousness of world citizenship will be born, a consciousness that can alone provide an adequate basis for the organization of world unity, on which a lasting world peace must necessarily depend, the peace itself inaugurating in turn that world civilization which will mark the coming of age of the entire human race." They had been, he said: "galvanized into action at the sight of a slowly disrupting civilization". Had he not pointed out to them, in words that fired their imagination, the nature of their responsibilities in relation to the state of the world, they would never have been galvanized at all.

In looking back on those glorious and terrible years of the last war the success of the first Seven Year Plan seems truly miraculous. While humanity was being decimated in Europe and Asia, while the World Centre of the Faith was being threatened with unprecedented danger on four sides, while the United States and Canada were engaged in a world conflict, with its attendant anxieties, restrictions and furor, a handful of people, lacking in resources but rich in faith, lacking in prestige but rich in

Page 388

determination, succeed in not only doubling the number of Bahá'í Assemblies in North America and ensuring the existence of at least one in every state of the Union and every province of Canada, but in completing the extremely costly exterior ornamentation of their Mother Temple sixteen months ahead of the scheduled time, and establishing not only a strong Bahá'í group in each of the twenty Latin Republics, but in addition fifteen Spiritual Assemblies throughout the entire area. In the last months of the Plan Shoghi Effendi fairly stormed the remaining unfinished tasks, with his valiant little army, too excited to feel the exhaustion of seven years' constant struggle, hard at his heels. When the sun of the second Bahá'í Century rose, it rose on triumph. To his cohorts Shoghi Effendi said that he and the entire Bahá'í world owed them a debt of gratitude no one could "measure or describe". Small wonder he wrote that such a community had "abundantly demonstrated its worthiness to shoulder the superhuman tasks with which it had been entrusted."

For twenty years, under the guidance of Shoghi Effendi, to a design he provided, the Bahá'ís wove the tapestry of the three great Crusades of his ministry. Amidst the busy, multi-coloured scenes, depicting so much work in so many places, could be discerned three sumptuous golden wheels - the three great Centenaries, historic landmarks into which he drew the threads of his plans and out of which they emerged to form still more beautiful and powerful patterns. The first of these Centenaries took place on 23 May 1944. Providentially the vast majority of Bahá'í communities throughout the world had not been cut off from communication with the Guardian at the World Centre, nor, in spite of the dangers of an encroaching theatre of war, been swallowed up in its battles. Persia, Iraq, Egypt, India, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Western Hemisphere had been miraculously spared. These communities, each to the degree possible under the circumstances prevailing in its own land, proceeded to celebrate the glorious occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of The Báb, which was at once the inception of the Bahá'í cycle as well as the birthday of `Abdu'l-Bahá.

In spite of the fact that the Persian believers were not free to hold befitting nation-wide celebrations on the occasion of the first Centenary of the Faith which had dawned in their native land, this does not mean that worthy homage was not paid to the memory of the blessed Báb. The Guardian himself, full of tenderness for a

Page 389

community so perpetually afflicted, instructed its national body in detail regarding the manner in which this glorious event was to be commemorated; his special representative, Jenabi Valiyu'llah Varqa, Trustee of the Huqúq, was to place in the room where The Báb had declared His Mission in His home in Shiraz,a precious silk carpet, the offering of Shoghi Effendi himself; at two hours and eleven minutes after sunset, one hundred years since The Báb had revealed His Station to Mulla Husayn in that very room, the members of the National Assembly and the delegates to the Annual Convention were to assemble; the National Assembly members were requested to prostrate themselves, at the threshold of that sacred spot, on Shoghi Effendi's behalf; the first surih of the Qayyumu'l-Asma' was then to chanted. Following this, passages of the Guardian's Centennial Message to the Bahá'ís of the East were read, in which he eulogized The Báb and the significance of the events which had taken place in that holy spot a century before.

For the North American Bahá'í Community a second anniversary occurred at the same time, as it was fifty years since the establishment of the Faith in the Western World. Shoghi Effendi, with his usual foresight and method, made quite clear to the American Bahá'ís in a series of messages during 1943 how he expected them to appropriately commemorate such an occasion and why he wanted them to do it on such a scale: in "its scope and magnificence" it was to "fully compensate for the disabilities which hinder so many communities in Europe and elsewhere, and even in Bahá'u'lláh's native land, from paying a befitting tribute to their beloved Faith at so glorious an hour in its history." The celebrations the Americans would hold, he said, would not only crown their own labours but those of the entire body of their fellow-workers in both the East and the West.

A nation-wide publicity campaign, aimed at the proclamation of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, was to precede the Centenary through which the public, by means of the press, radio and publications, was to be acquainted with the aims and purposes of the Faith as well as the achievements of its heroes, martyrs, teachers, pioneers and administrators, and the nature of its institutions was to be explained. Locally as well as on a national scale the believers were to celebrate and proclaim the joyous nature of this Festival, through lectures, conferences, banquets and contact with eminent leaders.

The climax of so much rejoicing would take place through the

Page 390

holding of an All-American Centennial Convention at which not only the delegates from the United States and Canada would gather, having for the first time in their history been elected at State and Provincial Conventions by votes cast by all believers rather than by communities which had local Assemblies, but also at least one representative from each of the Latin American countries. At the exact hour of The Báb's declaration a solemn thanksgiving dedication ceremony would be held in the Temple auditorium at which the only copy of the miniature portrait of The Báb ever to have left Shoghi Effendi's hands, and his special gift to this victorious and dearly-loved Community, would be viewed by that greatly blest gathering, and was to be followed by a public meeting consecrated to the memory of both The Báb and `Abdu'l-Bahá. Nothing, as he had foretold, had clouded the "triumphant termination of the first, most shining century of the Bahá'í Era". Similar, though less ostentatious, gatherings were being held in other countries. The close of these international festivities, Shoghi Effendi said, would mark the end of the first epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith which had lasted from 1921 to 1944.

The close of one century and the opening of another is a propitious moment to take stock of the Bahá'í world. Such a torrent of material presents itself to anyone trying to evaluate the labours of the Guardian that it is difficult indeed to know how to deal with his various achievements. He was not only a great creator of facts but an able and interested statistician and there was very little that he could not dramatize. But is not that the very essence of living - to derive interest from what superficially seems perfunctory, obligatory and therefore boring?

In 1944 Shoghi Effendi published, in Haifa, a small pamphlet, twenty-six pages long, which bore the title The Bahá'í Faith, 1844-1944 , and under this, modestly, "Information Statistical and Comparative"; in 1950, with much more exhaustive material provided by him, the Bahá'í Publishing Committee in the United State published a similar, larger pamphlet, thirty-five pages long, with a map; on it they put: "Compiled by Shoghi Effendi Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith". In 1952, again with material provided by him and at his instigation, both the British and American National Assemblies published the same pamphlet, with the same heading, only this time twice as long and covering the period 1844-1952. Shoghi Effendi had now added a new sub-title: "Ten Year International Teaching and Consolidation Plan".

Page 391

It is impossible to go into details on a subject as vast as this one. On the other hand to ignore it completely would be unjust to a field of work that absorbed, for over thirteen years, a great deal of Shoghi Effendi's attention and time. The fallibility and inefficiency of most people being what they are, the tale of these statistics alone represents an almost superhuman effort on Shoghi Effendi's part to obtain them. What must then have been the effort he exerted to produce the facts many of them represent? He constantly kept his statistics up to date; at the time of his passing he had the usual small notebook in his bedroom in which he kept the latest additions. I remember once his smilingly holding such a notebook up and telling me "Do you realize the whole Bahá'í world is in this?"

To understand the statistics better one must understand what was in Shoghi Effendi's mind behind the statistics. One cannot argue with facts; one can disagree with ideas, pooh-pooh claims, belittle historic happenings, but when one is shown in cold print that such and such a thing is worth five-and-a-half-million dollars, or that seven National Bahá'í Assemblies have been incorporated, or that the Bahá'í Marriage Ceremony is entirely legal in fifteen states, or one reads that names of the African tribes who are represented in the Faith, the languages in which its teachings have been translated, one is forced to accept that this Faith exists in a very concrete way. Facts were part of Shoghi Effendi's ammunition with which he could defend the Faith against its enemies and through which he could not only encourage the Bahá'ís but stimulate them to greater effort.

One of his most cherished lists, the first and foremost, was that which reflected the spread of this glorious Cause entrusted to this care by `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921. Under "Countries opened to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" he had placed for the period of The Báb's Ministry: 2; Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry: 13; `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Ministry: 20. It is interesting to note how methodical his mind was, because in the 1944 pamphlet Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry had only 10. Then why, in the 1952 pamphlet, did Shoghi Effendi put 13? Pakistan had become a nation and two of the original Russian territories had been split into 4 republics of the Soviet Union - an addition of 3, so they went up to Bahá'u'lláh's period. Where else could they go? These statistics reflect in a most fascinating way the expansion of our Faith. I will continue the statistics, in so far as the material is available, up to the time of the Guardian's passing. From 1844-1921, 35 countries (for Bahá'í purposes this includes

Page 392

Sovereign States, Mandated Territories, Dependencies and Colonies) had been opened to the Faith. From 1921-32, 5 were added in 11 years; 1932-44, 38 were added in one year; 1951-2, 22 were added in one year; 1952-3, no increase in numbers; 1953-4, 100 were added in one year, an accomplishment, Shoghi Effendi wrote, which signified that "the most vital and spectacular objective of the Ten Year Plan" had "been virtually attained ere the termination of the first year of this decade-long stupendous enterprise." At this point, for Bahá'í purposes, the world began to run out of countries! Nevertheless from 1954-7, 26 more were added. When Shoghi Effendi became Guardian there were 35 countries, but when he passed away he had raised this number to 254 - 219 added by his vision, drive and determination working through and with a dedicated, spiritually inflamed world-wide group of believers.

Although no exact statistics are available for the number of centres where Bahá'ís resided throughout the world, "foci of the warming and healing light of an all-conquering Revelation", as Shoghi Effendi called them, it seems unlikely that during the first century of the Faith they numbered a thousand. A rough calculation indicates that by 1952 there were about 2,400. Shoghi Effendi himself announced the following numbers: 1953, 2,500; 1954, almost 2,900; 1955, well over 3,200; 1956, well nigh 3,700; 1957, 4,500, in less than a five-year period an addition of over 2,000.

The over-all picture this conveys is both clear and impressive. But which parts of the Bahá'í tree were growing the fastest? That is also reflected in the published statistics of the Guardian. When `Abdu'l-Bahá made his historic visit to the United States and Canada that were probably about 40 places in the Western Hemisphere where Bahá'ís were to be found. By 1937 there were 300, an increase of 260 in 25 years. By 1944 this had swelled to 1,300 centres in North America, an increase of over 1,000 during the first Seven Year Plan. The last figure received from Shoghi Effendi in October 1957 was 1,570. In the thirty-six years of his ministry Shoghi Effendi, through his unceasing messages of inspiration and encouragement and through the operation of his successive plans, had added at least 1,500 centres in the United States and Canada alone. The list of local Spiritual Assemblies in North America was no less impressive: in 1931 there were 47; in 1944 there were 131, an increase of 84 in 13 years - most of them added during the great

Page 393

drive associated with the first Seven Year Plan. By 1952 there were 184 and in April 1957 the total had reached 204.

In 1944 Shoghi Effendi published the first statistics for Latin America, listing 57 centres and 15 Assemblies; by 1950 there were 70 centres and 35 Assemblies. At the time of his passing the centres had increased to 137 and the Assemblies to about 52. In the 1921-44 pamphlet he gave the figures for India (which included what was later Pakistan) and Burma as 66 centres and 31 Assemblies; by 1957 the figure was 140 centres and about 50 Assemblies. It had always been difficult to obtain proper statistics from Persia because of the constant recrudescence of persecution, but in 1952 Shoghi Effendi published the figures of 621 centres and 260 Assemblies. The Antipodes, particularly watched over by Shoghi Effendi, made remarkable progress throughout his ministry, in spite of its isolation from the rest of the Bahá'í world: in 1934 there were about 8 centres in Australia and New Zealand and 3 Assemblies; by 1950 there were 59 centres - an increase of about 50 in 16 years - and 10 Assemblies; by 1957 there were over 100 centres and 12 or 13 Assemblies. The British Isles had likewise shown a remarkable increase: in 1944 there were a few centres and 5 Assemblies; in 1957 over 110 centres and 20 Assemblies. The figures for Germany and Austria, listed by Shoghi Effendi for the first time in 1950, show 34 centres and 14 Assemblies (whereas before the war they were likely to have been in the neighbourhood of 15 and 5 respectively); in 1957 there were over 130 centres and 25 Assemblies.

With the second Seven Year Plan there appears a new list in the 1950 pamphlet, the Ten European Goal Countries with 34 centres and 14 Assemblies; by 1957 these had swelled to over 110 centres and 27 or 28 Assemblies. Cautiously the Guardian inserted a figure (unchanged from 1950-7) for Arabia: 10 centres - perhaps the most difficult to maintain in the entire Bahá'í world. Egypt and Sudan, long struggling against Muslim prejudice, were listed in 1952 as having 38 centres and 10 Assemblies. In 1956 Shoghi Effendi announced there were over 900 local Bahá'í Assemblies throughout the world. By 1957 he was able to inform the Bahá'ís this number had risen to over 1,000. It is very unlikely that at the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing in 1921 there were more than a handful throughout the East and the West. It was Shoghi Effendi who created them, on the pattern laid down by the Master Himself.

Page 394

The Guardian devoted particular attention, in addition to creating the structural basis of the Administrative Order and assuring the rapid spread of the Faith, to ensuring that Bahá'í literature be made available, in different languages, to the people of the world. Many of the translations and publications were paid for by him; most frequently, if the years preceding her death in 1939, Martha Root was his agent in this all-important work. In 1944 there were Bahá'í publications available in 41 languages; by 1950, 19 had been added; by 1952 there were 71, 11 added in 2 years; in 1955 ere were 167, no less than 96 added in 3 years; by 1957 there were 237, an increase of over 70 in 2 years. It is interesting to note that right after the list of published languages there invariably followed a second list of "Languages in which Bahá'í literature is being translated".

He was not only eager to welcome as many different ethnic groups into the Faith as possible but constantly urged the Bahá'ís to reach people of different races so that within the communities that cardinal principle of unity in diversity might be exemplified. This was reflected in two of his statistics, the second one significantly emphasizing the great importance he attached to this aspect of our teachings; the headings of these statistics speak for themselves: "Races Represented in the Bahá'í World Community", which were listed by name. In 1944 there were 31 races; in 1955 there were about 40 races. "Minority Groups and Races with which contact has been established by Bahá'ís", likewise listed by name: in 1944 these were 9, but in 1952 they had risen to 15 - 12 of which were American Eskimo and Indian tribes. In 1952 a new caption was added, in spite of the insignificance of the figures involved: "African Tribes Represented in the Bahá'í Faith"; the names of 12 tribes were given - proudly. Periodically he continued to announce the increase in these figures: 1955, 90; 1956, 140; 1957, 197 - an addition of 185 in 5 years. In 1954 he informed the Bahá'í world there were over 500 African believers in Uganda alone (out of perhaps 800 Negro adherents of the Faith throughout the entire continent) and in 1957 said the number of African believers was now over 3,000. His keen interest in the racial questions of our day, his strong sense of the value of the different qualities with which God has endowed different peoples, made him eager to share what he considered to be substantial triumphs. In 1956 he announced there were 170 Bahá'í centres in the Pacific area and in 1957 informed us these had increased to 210 and that

Page 395

there were more than 2,000 believers of the brown race throughout that region.

The growth of the institutions and endowments of the Faith, a strong wall to protect its maturing Administrative Order, was another of the things to which Shoghi Effendi devoted particular attention. It is not a dream Bahá'u'lláh has come to the world to help us dream, but a reality He has given us the design to build. Incorporated bodies can hold property legally. It was and is essential that a growing Faith should own its own Temples, national and local headquarters, institutions, lands, schools and so on. the figures in this regard speak eloquently of the progress made throughout the Guardian's ministry: in 1944 there were 5 incorporated National Assemblies and 63 locally incorporated ones in various countries; in 1952 the figures were 9 and 105 respectively; by 1957 there were over 200 incorportions of local Bahá'í Assemblies - 137 being added in 13 years. Whereas in 1944, at the beginning of the second Bahá'í Century, the legal right to perform a Bahá'í marriage existed in a very few places, by 1957 this right was enjoyed by Bahá'ís in over 30 places and Bahá'í Holy Days were acknowledged as grounds for the suspension of work or school attendance in 45 places, the definition of a place being either a country, a state or a district. In 1952 the Bahá'ís owned only 8 national headquarters, but by 1957 the owned 48; national endowments had likewise multiplied to an unprecedented degree and that same year there were 50 of them in various capital cities of the world.

The financial assets of a growing Faith were likewise rapidly increasing. Its now multitudinous properties in different countries were reflected in a swelling roll of figures which Shoghi Effendi kept announcing as the years went by: the United States, in 1944, had holdings estimated at $1,768,339; in 1950 $1,783,958; in 1952 $3,070,958, and by October 1957 the sum was nearing $5,000,000. Persia, in 1952, had endowments estimated at $500,000 whilst in 1957 the sum had increased to $5,000,000. In 1947 Shoghi Effendi gave the figures for the Holy Land, at the World Centre of the Faith, as 35,000 [pounds] Sterling ($140,000); in 1952 $500,000; in 1957 $5,500,000. The estimated figure for other countries he gave as, in 1952 $500,000 and in 1957 $850,000. The totals of these various figures, at best conservative, were: 1952 $4,500,000 and in 1957 over $16,350,000.

The three statistical pamphlets published by Shoghi Effendi are

Page 396

not only very informative, but provide an insight into his mind because they reflect to what he attached importance. There are lists of dates of historical significance which, aside from the cardinal dates of Bahá'í history, give dates associated with such events as the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the West and the Shrine of The Báb, the verdict of the Muhammadan court in Egypt pronouncing the Faith to be independent religion, Martha Root's first interview with Queen Maria of Rumania, the Resolution of the Council of the League of Nations upholding the claim of the Bahá'í Community to the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, the inception of various Plans, and so on. There are no dates to indicate the Bahá'í Faith had a Guardian. The man who informed us we were never to commemorate any anniversary associated with himself does not appear on his own list. The best-known Writings of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh are enumerated; the Bahá'í Calendar is reproduced; the names of the cities visited by `Abdu'l-Bahá during His three-year travels are given; a list of centres in Greenland to which Bahá'í literature had been sent is printed; the names of personages who have paid tribute to the Bahá'í Faith are listed, as well as other information; and a very strange little list indeed reappeared regularly in every new pamphlet: "Comparative Measurements of Famous Domed Structures" - St. Peter's in Rome, St Paul's in London, St Sophia in Constantinople, the Pantheon in Rome - all by themselves. A very thought-provoking list. Did he envisage the day when the Bahá'ís would build temples far surpassing these dimensions, to the glory of the Father?

With each release of statistical data the tally of National Spiritual Assemblies grew. To bring these "Pillars" of the future Universal House of Justice into existence was a task Shoghi Effendi conceived as one of his primary duties. Few of the Bahá'ís may remember the nine names enumerated in 1930: the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of the Caucasus, of Egypt, of Great Britain, of Germany, of India and Burma, of Iraq, of Persia, of Turkistan and of the United States and Canada. Although the two in Russia and the one in Persia were of a transitional nature - a central Assembly assuming the functions of a future national body as we now know it, pending the time when a properly grounded election by national delegates could take place - they were nevertheless fulfilling the functions of National Assemblies. Owing to the suppression of all Bahá'í activity in Russia, the National

Page 397

Assemblies of the Caucasus and Turkistan completely disappeared. Therefore at the end of the first Bahá'í Century there were only eight national bodies, that of Australia and New Zealand having been added 1934.

The oldest National Assembly in the Bahá'í world, that of the United States and Canada, had existed at the time of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing under the name "Bahá'í Temple Unity"; in 1909 it was incorporated and in that same year its "Executive Board" was formed. When the Guardian took the helm in 1921 he immediately set out to create uniformity in fundamental principles and from then on these future "Secondary Houses of Justice" were styled "National Spiritual Assemblies". By 1923 the National Assemblies for the British, the German, the Indian and Burmese believers were already functioning and those of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and the Sudan, Persia, Iraq and Australia and New Zealand soon followed. Much as the Guardian longed to see new "Pillars" erected he had to be sure a sufficiently strong community - and especially a sufficiently strong base of local Assemblies - existed before he could permit a national body to be elected. In 1948 he launched Canada on her independent administrative destiny, followed in 1951 by two other National Assemblies, one for Central and one for South America. there was in Shoghi Effendi's mind a very clear reason for this grouping of two or more countries under a single National Assembly, which he explained to an Indian Bahá'í pilgrim in 1929, who wrote down his words at the time: "He is against separation of Burma and India for he says we have very few workers and separation will dissipate our forces and energy while what we most need at the present time is consolidation of all our resources and forces..."

With the formation of these two giant Central and South American bodies, whose title was National Assembly but whose composition and function were regional in nature, a new phase in the administrative development of the Faith began. Shoghi Effendi was never intimidated by the magnitude or difficulty of a task, nor was he any respecter of current views or methods. For nine years he was to constitute nothing but these vast National "Regional" Assemblies - except in the case of the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Italy and Switzerland, elected in 1953 - which were truly immense in scope. The two Latin American ones comprised 20 countries and the four Africans ones, formed in 1956, represented 57 territories. This meant that nine people, often residing in

Page 398

countries over a thousand miles apart, had to consult and administer the affairs of scattered, mostly young and inexperienced Assemblies and communities, spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles. No doubt had Shoghi Effendi called in as advisers his fellow Bahá'ís the wisdom of such undertakings might have been questioned and they would have recommended either purely National or at least much smaller Regional Assemblies. Fortunately the Guardian consulted no one and with his clear and incisive mind sized up the relative advantages and disadvantages of the two policies and chose what appeared, superficially, to be the more unwieldy method. There were many factors involved in this choice: the main one was that in all these countries the need for a more centralized direction of the work was now urgent; it could no longer be efficiently administered from bases across oceans under the aegis of other National Assemblies prosecuting a later stage of the Divine Plan through their committees, however able and devoted these were. Also the primary object of teaching the Faith in new fields was to fit its newly won converts to assume responsibility for the work in their own areas. There was now a choice corps of experienced Bahá'í pioneers, administrators and teachers in Latin America and in Africa, but they were not sufficient in number for the work of 20 independent administrative bodies in Central and South America and far, far from sufficient to provide experienced Bahá'ís for 57 territories in Africa. The answer was these interim National Assemblies which were to be broken down into ever smaller units pending the day when each nation had a sufficiently strong network of local Assemblies, of more mature believers, deepened in the teachings they had so recently embraced, who could assume responsibility for the administration and advancement of the Cause in their own territories. The remarkable feats achieved by these Regional Assemblies, constantly urged on and encouraged by Shoghi Effendi in the discharge of their historic tasks, fully justified his method.

In his selection of the countries he associated under one national body the Guardian amply demonstrated the fact that the Bahá'ís are far more than international, they are supra-national - above nation - in their beliefs and policy. No consideration of national prejudices, political animosities or religious differences influenced his choice of those who were to work together under one Assembly. For him such worldly considerations were not allowed to weigh, albeit he was a keen student of current affairs and never blind to

Page 399

facts. It was those Divine forces within the Faith that he utilized - a Faith which, as he so beautifully expressed it, "feeds itself upon ...hidden springs of celestial strength" and "propagates itself by ways mysterious and utterly at variance with the standards accepted by the generality of mankind."

It was not until 1957 that he resumed the formation of purely National Assemblies; in April of that year Alaska, Pakistan and New Zealand elected their own permanent Bahá'í bodies. It was an historic occasion in the evolution of the Administrative Order for no less than eleven new National Assemblies came into existence that year at one time, the others being Regional Assemblies for North East Asia, South East Asia, the Benelux Countries, Arabia, the Iberian Peninsula, Scandinavia and Finland, the Antilles, and the northern countries of South America which formed a new body. What had hitherto been one National Assembly for South America and one for Central America now became two smaller Regional ones in South America while Central America was partially pared away and its island republics joined in electing an Assembly of their own. Ere Shoghi Effendi's last great Crusade drew to a close every republic of Latin America had its own independent national body, as he himself had planned when, in his statistical pamphlet published on the eve of the Centenary of 1953, he had included within the "Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching and Consolidation Plan" as one of its most thrilling and challenging provisions the task of more than quadrupling the existing National Assemblies through raising their number to over fifty.

It is not possible in an appraisal of the work achieved by Shoghi Effendi as brief as the present one, to describe in detail the progress made in individual countries during his ministry. That will require a full-length history and much research into sources gradually being assembled at the World Centre. As he himself always saw his work in its broadest outlines, so we must here strive to follow the comet's path across the skies. The spiritual conquest of this Planet - the avowed purpose of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings - is primarily bound up with the prosecution of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan. As the American believers pursued, in the course of successive crusades, the destiny with which this Plan had endowed them, a tremendous force was released, ever-increasingly, throughout the Bahá'í world. If the North American Community is viewed as the Himalayas - the great watershed of the forces of expansion in the Cause of God - other communities must be seen

Page 400

as streams and rills that flow into the mighty rivers they produce and swell their power to irrigate all the lands of the earth.

The example set through the achievements of the first Seven Year Plan inspired other communities to dare greatly. The increasing awareness of the glorious possibilities of service opening before the Bahá'í world in the second century of its own era was constantly fanned into flame by the Guardian's messages to various National Assemblies. He frequently quoted Bahá'u'lláh's admonition "Vie ye with each other in the service of God and of His Cause " and openly encouraged a competitive spirit in its noblest form. His used of statistics was one example of the way he did this, his own words another: "Spiritual competition", he cabled America in 1941, "galvanizing organized followers Bahá'u'lláh East West waxes keener as first Bahá'í Century speeds to its close." Still more illuminating was what followed for he acclaimed this as a sign of Bahá'í solidarity in the five continents of the globe - like the horses of a Roman chariot, each trying to get its neck forward but all pulling together. It would be lacking in respect to say he called for bids - but he never hesitated to tell his warriors there was a golden fleece to be won; who would get to it first? No doubt it was all divinely inspired, but it was also warm and human, vibrant and stimulating!

The news of the victories being won during the first Seven Year Plan, passed on by the Guardian in a steady flow of inspiring messages to the believers of Persia, was, Shoghi Effendi cabled in 1943, "thrilling Eastern communities Bahá'í world with delight admiration and wonder...Ninety-five Persian families emulating example American trail-blazers Faith" had left their homes and were on their was to hoist its banner in Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Sulaimaniya, Hejaz and Bahrein. India and Egypt were stirring and the Iraqi Bahá'ís were hastening their own plans to crown the end of the first century with local victories. The Bahá'ís of both the East and the West were writing the last glorious pages in their own chapters of the first century of their Faith.

Three months after the May 1944 celebrations were ended, the Guardian informed the North American Community: "A memorable chapter in the history of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the West has been closed. A new chapter is now opening, a chapter which, ere its termination, must eclipse the most shining victories won so heroically by those who have so fearlessly launched the first stage of the Great Plan conceived by `Abdu'l-Bahá for the American

Page 401

believers." They stood at the threshold of "yet another phase in a series of crusades which must carry...the privileged recipients of those epoch-making Tablets beyond the Western Hemisphere to the uttermost ends of the earth, to implant the banner, and lay an unassailable basis for the administrative structure of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh." There are not so many ways of doing things on this planet. Right methods are right when applied to different fields. Shoghi Effendi was a spiritual general leading a spiritual army to win spiritual prizes - but the campaign method was immemorial: organize your forces, conceive your strategy, attack your goal, occupy the position, keep your communications open to your base, bring up reinforcements, establish garrisons in the conquered territory, muster your forces and start the next campaign. As the armies of brilliant leaders get more and more experience the lull between campaigns diminishes. This was equally true of Shoghi Effendi's Plans.

Having won his first great campaign he immediately turned to consolidating his victories: he informed he American National Assembly that the laboriously won local Assemblies must be preserved, groups raised to Assembly status, centres multiplied, the Faith proclaimed to the masses and the new believers deepened in their understanding of it. In addition, more translations of Bahá'í literature should be made and published for the benefit of the Latin American work; above all, in every republic where an Assembly had not yet been established one must now be formed.

Between the opening phase of the American believers' World Mission, which ended with the first Seven Year Plan,and the second stage of that Mission, there occurred what Shoghi Effendi called, on the occasion of the launching of the second Seven Year Plan, a "two year respite". It is unlikely that the American Community had realized that their arduous labours between 1944 and 1946 - which stretched from Anchorage in the north to Magallanes in the south of the Western Hemisphere - had been a "respite" until the Guardian called it that. When a "war-ravaged, disillusioned and bankrupt society" paused in its bloody battles after six years and began, with the cessation of European hostilities in the summer of 1945, to lick its wounds, Shoghi Effendi told the American Bahá'ís that the prosecutors of the Divine Plan must "gird up their loins, muster their resources" and prepare themselves for the next step in their destiny. The appeals he made, during the months that preceded the launching of the second Seven

Page 402

Year Plan, to the minds and the feelings of the American believers were profound. He told these "ambassadors of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" that the "sorrow-stricken, war-lacerated, sorely bewildered nations and peoples" of Europe were waiting in their turn for the healing influence of the Faith to be extended to them as it had been extended to the peoples throughout the Americas. News he received of the plight of the believers in Germany and Burma - two old and tried communities - greatly touched him and was so distressing that he hastened to appeal to "their fellow workers in lands which have providentially been spared the horrors of invasion and all the evils and miseries attendant upon it" to take immediate and collective action to mitigate their plight. He appealed particularly to the American Community, which "of all its sister communities in East and West, enjoyed the greatest immunity" during the war and had in addition been privileged to successfully prosecute so great a Plan, to do all in its power to help financially and by any other means at its disposal.

The official inception of the second Seven Year Plan, the "second collective enterprise undertaken in American Bahá'í history," took place at the 1946 Convention. It would seem as if all the work so successfully undertaken since 1921, the building up of strong administrative institutions of the Faith, the expansion of the North American Community during seven years to include every state within the United States and every province in Canada - an expansion which raised the number of centres from 300 to 1,000 - the triumphant spiritual campaign in Latin American, had been designed to create in the Western Hemisphere a vast home front from which the New World could now launch a well-organized attack on the Old World - on Europe, its parent continent. Once again Shoghi Effendi mustered a small army; "Bahá'u'lláh's friends. America, the child of the Old World, now a fully-grown young giant, was ready to return, vital and fresh, destined, as Shoghi Effendi wrote "through successive decades, to achieve the spiritual conquest of the continent unconquered by Islam, rightly regarded as the mother of Christendom, the fountain head of American culture, the mainspring of Western civilization..."

Again we see the design in Shoghi Effendi's great tapestry drawn into another blazing wheel of glory - this time the second great Centenary of the Faith in 1953 which would, he informed us, commemorate the Year Nine marking the mystic birth of Bahá'u'lláh's

Page 403

prophetic mission as He lay in the Siyah-"Ch al of Tehran.

The objectives of this new Plan, of which Europe was the "preeminent" goal, and which came to be known as the European Campaign, were as follows: consolidation of work throughout the Americas; completion of the interior ornamentation of the Mother Temple of the West in time for the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary in 1953; erection of three pillars of the future Universal House of Justice through the election of the Canadian, the Central and the South American National Assemblies; a systematic teaching campaign in Europe aimed at the establishment of Spiritual Assemblies in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), the Low Countries (Holland and Belgium), and Scandinavian states (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) and Italy. He ended his message by saying that he himself was pledging ten thousand dollars as his initial contribution for the "manifold purposes glorious Crusade surpassing every enterprise undertaken by followers Faith Bahá'u'lláh course first Bahá'í Century."

Six weeks later a cable from Shoghi Effendi informed the American National Assembly that "nine competent pioneers" should be promptly dispatched to Europe to as many countries as feasible, that the Duchy of Luxembourg should be added to the Low Countries and Switzerland also included. With these two and the previous eight, the "Ten Goal Countries" came into existence in our Bahá'í vocabulary. Some time later, in view of the marked progress being made in the north of Europe, Finland was also added to the scope of the Plan. Although, in addition to Britain and Germany, there were still Bahá'ís living in France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and perhaps other places, they were for the most part too isolated or too suppressed to undertake large-scale teaching activities. The opening of this systematic well-organized Plan in "war-torn, spiritually famished" Europe meant that the American Community now found itself "launched in both hemispheres on a second, incomparably more glorious stage, of the systematic Crusade designed to culminate, in the fullness of time, in the spiritual conquest of the entire planet." It meant that the American Community was to be engaged in strenuous work in thirty countries, in addition to ensuring that proper foundations were laid for the election, in 1948, of the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, whose essential local Assemblies in various provinces were in most cases new and weak.

Page 404

As this home front of believers, at best numbering a few thousand Bahá'ís, heroically struggled with the various leviathans they new had by their tails, the Guardian's love and admiration for them steadily increased. Although he occasionally used the rhetorical form "we", in one of his most touching messages at the very beginning of this new Plan his use of "we" seems a clear indication of how profoundly he had become identified with the band of his followers in America who had followed him so faithfully from the first instant they heard he was their Guardian: "We stand too close to the noble edifice our hands are rearing...for us to be in a position to evaluate the contribution which we, as the executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Mandate, as the champion-builders of Bahá'u'lláh's Order, as the torch-bearers of a civilization of which that Order is the mainspring and precursor, are now being make to the world triumph of our Faith..." Truly they were become his sisters and brothers!

It was no use, Shoghi Effendi said, trying to envisage, at so early a stage, where this new Plan would lead; the duty of the hour was sufficient; the future depended on present efforts. No opportunity must be missed, no obligation evaded, no task half-heartedly performed, no decision procrastinated. All resources, spiritual and material, must be concentrated on the tasks that lay ahead; all must participate, however modest, restricted or inconspicuous their share might be, until every ounce of energy had been spent and, "tired but blissful", the promised harvest has brought in. The continent of Europe was "turbulent, politically convulsed, economically disrupted and spiritually depleted." But it was the arena where the American Community must now carry out the "first stage of its transatlantic missionary enterprise", "amidst a people so disillusioned, so varied in race, language, and outlook, so impoverished spiritually, so paralyzed with fear, so confused in thought, so abased in their moral standards, so rent by internal schisms..."

When these "trail-blazers" of the second Seven Year Plan began their mission there were only two European Bahá'í communities worthy of the name, those of the British Isles and Germany, both long-standing and both of which had had active National Assemblies before the war; the first had never ceased to function; the second, dissolved by the Nazi authorities in 1937 when all Bahá'í activity was officially suspended, was now reconstituted and heroically gathering its war-torn flock about it. With these the European

Page 405

Teaching Committee of the American National Assembly and the ever-swelling group of pioneers in the Ten Goal Countries closely co-operated. The progress was so rapid that by the second year of the new Plan there were already eight new local Assemblies functioning in these countries and, as the work continued to rapidly spread, the Guardian extended its objectives to include Finland.

With the same degree of burning interest with which he had guided the exploits of the first Seven Year Plan he now followed the course of the second one. In 1948 he informed the friends that the "primacy" of the American Bahá'í Community was "reasserted, fully vindicated, completely safeguarded"; that "intent on maintaining its lead among its sister communities" it had excited "feelings of admiration and envy in several communities, East and West". The victories won in Europe were all the more meritorious, Shoghi Effendi pointed out, because the environment and circumstances were more adverse and challenging than had been the case in Latin America. Though the aftermath of the war, from the standpoint of physical misery, gradually wore off, the fundamental difficulty of teaching the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh to the European people did not change. A few months before his passing, in a letter to one of the National Assemblies, Shoghi Effendi was as emphatic and clear regarding this problem as he had been in 1946: "In their constant concern to illuminate the hearts of their countrymen with the radiance of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, and in their daily contact with peoples intensely conservative by nature, steeped in tradition, bound, for the most part, by the ties of religious orthodoxy, sunk in materialism, and fully content with the standard they have achieved," the Bahá'ís must "of necessity find the work painfully slow, extremely arduous, and often highly discouraging... the seeds, however, they are now sowing...will," he assured them, "under the watchful care of Providence, and in consequence of the tribulations which a heedless generation is bound sooner or later to experience, germinate, at the appointed time, and yield a harvest of such importance as will fill them with astonishment."

In the middle of this great European undertaking, which had truly fired the imagination of the Bahá'ís all over the world, including the new communities of Latin America - who were even able to send some of their own pioneers to assist in this new Crusade - the hard-pressed American Bahá'ís found themselves faced by a

Page 406

serious crisis. Owing to a sudden increase in costs the expense of completing their beloved Temple, through clothing its interior with designs little less elaborate than its exterior and of the same material, had risen heavily. Shoghi Effendi's army was in difficulties. He investigated the situation carefully and then immediately decided on the action necessary to save it. It is illuminating to see what he considered could be safely jettisoned and what was essential: the budgets allocated to the all-important European work, to the spread and maintenance of the precious Assemblies and centres created in Latin and North America, must not be curtailed; the holding of the American National Convention and the publication of Bahá'í News he considered imperative; but all other activities, such as proclamation, publications and summer schools, should either be "drastically curtailed or suspended during two years" (1949 and 1950). Like any great general conducting a campaign he safeguarded three things: his front lines of battle, his "essential base" (as he called it) of operations and his lines of communication. Other considerations, however, were to persuade the Guardian, in 1951, to not only prolong this period of intense economy in America but to enlarge it to embrace the whole Bahá'í world. The construction of the Shrine of The Báb - for the entire stonework of which he had recently signed a contract - as well as the formation of the International Bahá'í Council and the general expansion of the work in the Holy Land, led him to appeal to all National Spiritual Assemblies, local Assemblies and individual believers to curtail their budgets and through a great effort and sacrifice rally to the support of the World Centre. "Austerity period", he cabled, "previously affecting fortunes American Bahá'í Community unavoidable prolonged now extended entire Bahá'í world in recognition pressing needs paramount importance glorious international task." The American Bahá'ís had already, by 1950, raised half-a-million dollars for the interior ornamentation of their Temple, thus breaking the back of particularly heavy commitment.

During these difficult years the numerically much smaller Canadian Community - co-partner with the American Community in the execution of the Divine Plan - was so preoccupied with the Five Year Plan the Guardian had instructed it to initiate when the independent stage of its development was reached in 1948, that it was in no position to offer much assistance to the main body of believers in the United States, and the formation in 1951

Page 407

of two more National Assemblies, one in Central and one in South America, made further demands on their tenacity, resources and courage. Yet with all their burdens their triumphs during the last years of the second Seven Year Plan continued to multiply. so pleased was Shoghi Effendi with the spirit of this truly heroic Community, every year justifying more clearly the great hopes for and trust in it `Abdu'l-Bahá had had, that in the summer of 1950 the Guardian suggested that, at a time when the Centenary of the Martyrdom of The Báb "with all its poignant memories is upon us" it would be suitable for such a community to resolve that on the occasion of the Centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission - coinciding with the end of its second Seven Year Plan - it would place a "worthy, befitting, five-fold offering...on the alter of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" through reinforcing the foundations of the institutions established in North America; rearing the two Pillars of the future Universal House of Justice in Latin America; maintaining the strength achieved in the Ten Goal Countries of Europe; completing the interior ornamentation of the Temple; and assisting in the erection of the superstructure of a still holier edifice at the World Centre of the Faith. Although it was only a "hard-pressed, adolescent community" Shoghi Effendi reminded it that the "untapped sources of celestial strength from which it can draw are measureless in their potencies, and will unhesitatingly pour forth their energizing influences if the necessary daily effort be made and the required sacrifices be willingly accepted."

The winning of so many victories by the Bahá'ís of the United States as well as Canada - to which had been added in the closing years of this Crusade services in the African Continent never contemplated in the original Plan - far exceeding in substance the misty prizes which had loomed, beckoning but vague, in the fog surrounding the world at the end of the war, now encouraged the Guardian to add a sixth offering of the alter of Bahá'u'lláh, one he termed the "fairest fruit" of the mighty European project. In 1952 he cabled that "ere termination American Community's second Seven Year Plan" the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Italy and Switzerland should be formed, and added: "Advise European Teaching Committee upon consummation glorious enterprise issue formal invitation their spiritual offspring newly emerged National Assembly participate together with sister National Assemblies United States, British Isles, Germany

Page 408

Intercontinental Conference August same year capital city Sweden". He explained he was planning to entrust this youngest Assembly of the Bahá'í world with a specific plan of its own as part of the Global Crusade to be embarked upon between the second and third Century celebrations. It had become an established procedure of the Guardian for these new National Bahá'í Bábies to be born with a plan in their mouths!

It may well be imagined how excited, how heartened, all the followers of Bahá'u'lláh were by news so thrilling as this. They saw what seemed to them little short of miracles taking place, and their loving "true brother", in his humility, his praises and kindness, led them to believe such miracles were all theirs. That Italy should have, from a vacuum, succeeded in one decade in building up a foundation of local Assemblies strong enough, with its Swiss companion, to bear the weight of an independent National Assembly was a feat far beyond anyone's fairest dreams.

In order to grasp, in however dim a way, why the third Seven Year Plan - which the Guardian had repeatedly referred to since the end of the first Bahá'í Century - became a Ten Year Plan instead, we must understand a fundamental teaching of our Faith. A just and loving God does not require of any soul what He will not give it the strength to accomplish. Privileges involve responsibilities, for peoples, nations, individuals. To the degree to which they arise to meet their responsibilities they are blessed and sustained; to the degree they fail they are automatically deprived and punished. Shoghi Effendi had written at the beginning of the first Seven Year Plan that "failure to exploit these golden opportunities would... signify the loss of the rarest privilege conferred by Providence upon the American Bahá'í Community." "The Kingdom of God ", `Abdu'l-Bahá had said, "is possessed of limitless potency. Audacious must be the army of life if the confirming aid of that Kingdom is to be repeatedly vouchsafed to it... " It was in pursuance of the operation of this great law that the followers of Bahá'u'lláh who had been entrusted with the Divine Plan, rising to meet their challenge, pulling down from on high through their services an ever-greater measure of celestial aid, discharging their sacred responsibility in so noble a fashion, found destiny hastening to meet them, a step in advance. A victorious army, having swept all barriers before it, is often so exhilarated by its exploits it needs no respite. It is ready to march on, fired by its victories. This was the mood of the Bahá'í world as 1953 approached and it was about to enter the Holy Year. Their

Page 409

Commander-in-Chief was a general who needed very little encouragement to induce him to go on and who never rested. So it was inevitable that given hour, the mood and the man the Bahá'ís should find themselves with no "three year respite" but rather twelve completely evolved plans - one for each National Assembly - ready to be put into operation the moment the trumpet sounded the reveille in Ridvan 1953.

Wonderful as had been the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the inception of the Bahá'í Faith, in 1944, by Bahá'í communities living in the shadow of the worst war the world had ever known, it was dwarfed by the events associated with the hundredth anniversary of the revelation Bahá'u'lláh received in the Siyah-Chal of Tehran. Poignantly, in the months preceding the commemoration of that event, the Guardian recalled to the Bahá'í world the tidal wave of persecution and martyrdom which had swept so many disciples of The Báb, so many heroes, so many innocent women and even children, from the scene a century before and had culminated in casting the Supreme Manifestation of God into a loathsome subterranean dungeon immediately following the abortive attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah on 15 August 1852. The Guardian chose as the commencement of the Holy Year - the celebration of the Anniversary of the "Year Nine" - the middle of October 1952. A veritable fever of anticipation swept over the believers East and West, now free in every part of the globe to give their hearts to unreserved rejoicing. Perhaps for the first time in their history the Bahá'ís had a throbbing sense of their true oneness as a world community. What had always been a matter of doctrine, taught and firmly believed in, was now sensed be every individual as a great and glorious reality. The plans for the future, set in motion by a series of dynamic messages from Shoghi Effendi, served to inflame this new awareness.

At the end of November 1951, in a cable addressing all National Assemblies of the Bahá'í world, Shoghi Effendi informed us that the long anticipated intercontinental stage in the administrative evolution of our Faith was now at hand. We had, he pointed out, passed through the phases of local, regional, national and international activity and were emerging, at such an auspicious moment, into a new kind of Bahá'í world, one in which we began to think in terms of the entire planet with its continents in relation to our teaching strategy. Shoghi Effendi took the Centenary - this great golden wheel in his tapestry - and fashioned it in such in a way

Page 410

that two entirely different things were made to react to each other and at the same time blend into each other in one great creative centre of force. One was the past, the commemoration of such soul-shaking events as the martyrdoms, the imprisonment of Bahá'u'lláh, His mystic experience of His own station in the Siyah-"Ch al, His exile and all that these events signified for the progress of man in his journey towards his Creator; the other was the marshalling, this time of all the organized Bahá'í communities of the planet, in a vast Plan, the next step in the unfoldment of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan.

Moved by the spirits of those two Exalted Beings Who, `Abdu'l-Bahá had promised in His Will and Testament , would infallibly guide him, his whole heart and attention focused on the propagation of that Faith of which he had been made Guardian - and Guardian is a very weak English equivalent for what the original Arabic "Valiyy-i-Amru'llah" means, Defender of the Faith, Leader, Commander-in-Chief - Shoghi Effendi set about devising the next stage of the Master's Plan. It was beginning to take shape in his mind long before its detailed provisions were released through the publication in 1952 of his pamphlet The Bahá'í Faith 1844 - 1952 , with its supplement "Ten Year International Teaching and Consolidation Plan", which was made public at the inception of the Holy Year. Previously he had requested different National Assemblies to provide him with the names of territories and major islands of the five continents where Bahá'í activity was in progress, thus supplementing his own exhaustive list, which included the countries mentioned by `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself in the Tablets of the Divine Plan , and which he had carefully compiled with the aid of atlases and works of reference. I remember so vividly how he worked on his own map of the goals of the Ten Year Plan. He was tired out and run down after his long winter's work in Haifa, with the Shrine, the gardens, the pilgrims, the interminable and ever-increasing correspondence. With difficulty I had extracted a quasi-promise that when he took a cure, at a well-known watering place, he would really rest and devote himself for that period at least to his health. The pleasant summer sun was shining outside, the long leafy alleys of tress, through which one went to drink from the various waters at specific times, were shady in the heat, it all beckoned to drowsy relaxation - but Shoghi Effendi spent the hours of daylight leaning over his map, filling in its details with infinite care. All my remonstrances and those of his doctor, my

Page 411

indignant reminder of his promise, had no effect. He was wholly absorbed in his task, forgetful of tired muscles, strained eyes, overworked brain.

The highlights of the Holy Year were four great Inter continental Teaching Conferences which were announced in that same November 1951 cable and were to be held in four continents: the first in Africa, in Kampala, Uganda, in the spring of 1953; the second in Chicago, in the United States, during Ridvan; the third in Stockholm, Sweden, during the summer and the fourth in New Delhi, India, in the autumn. The pattern of these great Conferences - which were announced a year before the new Plan itself was disclosed - became clear as the hour approached for them to take place. All Hands of the Cause were invited to attend as many of them as possible; to each one the Guardian would send as his own special representative one of the Hands "honoured direct association newly-initiated enterprises World Centre". In chronological order, these were Leroy Ioas, Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, Ugo Giachery and Mason Remey; these emissaries would fulfil a four-fold mission: they would bear a reproduction of a miniature portrait of The Báb to show the friends gathered on such an historic occasion; they would deliver the Guardian's own message to the assembled attendants; they would elucidate the character and purposes of the Spiritual World Crusade; they would rally the participants to an energetic, sustained, enthusiastic prosecution of the colossal tasks that lay ahead.

Before going into more detail it would be well to recall that although, in his November 1951 message announcing these Conferences to be held during the Holy Year, Shoghi Effendi had given a faint hint of things to come when he stated they would initiate a new stage of intercontinental activity and would reflect a degree of Bahá'í solidarity of unprecedented scope and intensity, still as far as the Bahá'í world knew, they were designed as great jubilee gatherings to commemorate the Year Nine, to celebrate the end of the victorious second Seven Year Plan, and many regional ones as well. Indeed, only a week before the cable announcing those Conferences reached the Bahá'í world the Guardian had, in another message, still been referring to a "third Seven Year Plan" so that there was in 1951 no association in the minds of the Bahá'ís of the commencement of a new crusade with these festival gatherings. The extraordinary success the Bahá'ís were meeting with all over the world, the enthusiasm of National Assemblies such as America

Page 412

and Britain, who had been winning remarkable victories in Europe and in Africa respectively, swung the compass on a new course, a course that in reality started three years before the inauguration of the Ten Year Plan. So vast is the range covered by the provisions of this Plan, so numerous the communications from Shoghi Effendi on this subject - his lists, his announcements and his statistics, beginning in 1952 and carried on until his death in November 1957 - that to give more than a brief outline of them here is impossible. On the other hand this Crusade crowned his ministry and his life's work, was a source of deep happiness to him, and its unfolding victories a comfort to his often sad and overburdened heart. Therefore it must be dealt with, however inadequately.

No words can better sum up the very essence of this supreme Plan conceived of and organized by him than his own definition of it: "Let there be no mistake. The avowed, the primary aim of this Spiritual Crusade is none other than the conquest of the citadels of men's hearts. The theatre of its operations is the entire planet. Its duration a whole decade. Its commencement synchronizes with the Centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission. Its culmination will coincide with the Centenary of the Declaration of that same mission."

Although all believers were welcome to be present at the four great Conferences of the Holy Year, a special category was singled out and invited to attend by Shoghi Effendi, namely, representatives of those National Assemblies and communities who were intimately concerned with the work which was to go forward in each of the four continents. If we begin with the first Conference held in February, in Africa, and analyse what the most crucial phase of the entire Crusade involved there - the opening of new territories and the consolidation of the work in those already opened - we will get an idea of the shattering impact these historic gatherings had on Bahá'í history: 57 territories were to be the subject of concentrated teaching activities for which six national bodies would be responsible, namely, the National Spiritual Assemblies of the British, the American, the Persian, the Egyptian and Sudanese, the Iraqi and the Indian, Pakistani and Burmese believers, who were to open 33 new territories and consolidate the work already begun in 24. The tasks allotted the whole Western Hemisphere community, through its four National Assemblies, those of the United States, Canada, Central America and South America, were equally staggering:

Page 413

56 territories, 27 to be opened and 29 to be consolidated, involving such widely separated and difficult goals as the Yukon and Keewatin in the north and the Falkland Islands in the south. The Asian goals were even more formidable: 84 territories in all, 41 to be opened and 43 to be consolidated, ranging from countries in the Himalayas to dots in the Pacific Ocean; these were divided among the nine National Assemblies of Persia; India Pakistan and Burma; Iraq; Australia and New Zealand; the United States; Canada; Central America; south America and the British Isles. At the European Conference five National Assemblies received 52 territories as their share of the Plan, 30 to be opened and 22 to be consolidated. Seated amongst its elders, the National Assemblies of the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Germany and Austria, was The Báby national body of the Bahá'í world - that of Italy and Switzerland, scarcely three months old - which was given be the Guardian territories all its own, 7 in number.

At these historic gatherings, held at such vast distances not only from each other but in most cases from widely dispersed local Bahá'í communities, more than 3,400 believers were present, representing, Shoghi Effendi announced, not only all the principal races of mankind, but more than 80 countries. Each of the Conferences had some special distinction of its own. The first, the African one, attended by no less than ten Hands of the Cause, friends from 19 countries and representatives of over 30 tribes and races, being particularly blessed by having over 100 of the new African believers present as the personal guests of the Guardian himself, a mark of consideration on his part that clearly showed his deep attachment to the new African Bahá'ís. Indeed, in his highly significant message to that first Conference of the Holy Year he was at pains to quote the words of Bahá'u'lláh Who had compared the coloured people to the "black pupil of the eye " through which "the light of the spirit shineth forth ". Shoghi Effendi not only praised the African race, he praised the African Continent, a continent that had "remained uncontaminated by the evils of a gross, a rampant and cancerous materialism undermining the fabric of human society alike in the East and the West, eating into the vitals of the conflicting peoples and races inhabiting the American, the European, and the Asiatic continents, and, alas, threatening to engulf in one common catastrophic convulsion the generality of mankind." should such a warning, given at such an historic juncture in the fortunes of Africa, not be remembered more insistently by the

Page 414

band of Bahá'u'lláh's followers labouring there to establish a spiritually based World Order?

The second, "without doubt," Shoghi Effendi wrote, "the most distinguished of the four Intercontinental Teaching Conferences commemorating the Centenary of the inception of the Mission of Bahá'u'lláh" and marking the launching of that "epochal, global, spiritual decade-long Crusade", took place in the middle of the Holy Year and constituted the central feature of that year's celebrations and the highest point of its festivities. This great all-America Conference was held in the heart of North America, in Chicago, the very city where sixty years before Bahá'u'lláh's name had first been publicly mentioned in the Western World during a session of the World Parliament of Religions held in connection with the World's Columbian Exposition which opened on 1 May 1893. Its sessions were preceded by the consummation of a fifty-year-old enterprise - the dedication to public worship, on 2 May, of the Mother Temple of the West, which was, Shoghi Effendi assured us, not only "the holiest House of Worship ever to be reared to the glory of the Most Great Name" but that no House of Worship would "ever possess the immeasurable potentialities with which it has been endowed" and that the "role it is destined to play in hastening the emergence of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh" could not as yet be fathomed.

The unveiling of the model of the future Bahá'í Temple to be erected on Mt Carmel at the World Centre of the Faith was another event which Shoghi Effendi himself had planned to take place in conjunction with that Conference - a Conference which he said will "go down in history as the most momentous gathering held since the close of the Heroic Age of the Faith, and will be regarded as the most potent agency in paving the way for the launching of one of the most brilliant phases of the grandest crusade ever undertaken by the followers of Bahá'u'lláh since the inception of His Faith..."

The lion's share of this new crusade in prosecution of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan had been given by Shoghi Effendi to those he so lovingly said were not only "ever ready to bear the brunt of responsibility" but were, indeed, that Plan's "appointed" and "chief trustees". They had performed in the past "unflagging and herculean labours", now, through their two national bodies, that of the United States and of Canada, in competition with ten other National Assemblies, each of which had received a goodly portion

Page 415

of goals, this Community would indeed have to struggle hard to maintain its lead and win the new victories expected of it. There were 131 virgin territories throughout the world to be opened to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in ten years and 118 territories already opened but still requiring a great deal of consolidation. Of these 249 places, most of them large, independent nations, the United States and Canada received 69, or 28 per cent of the total; 48 new National Assemblies were to be formed before 1963, 36 of them by the United States alone. The first dependency ever to be erected in the vicinity of a Bahá'í Temple was likewise to be undertaken by this Community; in addition, it was to purchase two sites for future Houses of Worship, one in Toronto, Canada, and one in Panama City, Panama; translate and publish Bahá'í literature in 10 Western Hemisphere Indian languages, and achieve many other goals besides.

In the presence of the twelve Hands of the Cause attending this Conference - to which Bahá'ís from 33 countries had come - well over 100 believers arose and offered themselves as pioneers to set in motion the accomplishment of the great tasks the Guardian had just made so dazzlingly clear in his message, in which he called upon the United States believers, the "chief executors", the Canadian believers, their "allies", and the Latin American believers, their "associates", to "brace themselves and other continents of the globe, an intercontinental campaign designed to carry a stage further the glorious work already inaugurated throughout the Western Hemisphere." Pioneering demanded, Shoghi Effendi had written long ago, "first and foremost those qualities of renunciation, tenacity, dauntless and passionate fervour." One saw in the faces of these new volunteers, old and young, single and families, black and white, those qualities reflected like a heavenly glow, and it was this first vanguard of shock troops, followed by an ever-swelling, determined little army, from all over the world, who stormed the citadels of those "unopened" territories and won in one year one hundred of them. These pioneers received from Shoghi Effendi the title "Knight of Bahá'u'lláh", reserved for any believer, of an age to take part in such a decision, who first pioneered to a virgin territory or either arrived there or was on his way there before the close of the first year of the Crusade. In future years those who first reached as yet unopened territories would receive this same title. It is interesting to note a term used by `Abdu'l-Bahá, which seems to foreshadow this beautiful

Page 416

title, where He speaks of the "Knights of the Lord". All the fires the Guardian lit were from the sparks gathered so painstakingly from the writings of his forefathers.

The opening of the doors of the of the Mother Temple to public worship, the public meetings addressed by prominent Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike during the jubilee celebrations attracted thousands of people and received enthusiastic nation-wide publicity in the press, on television and over the radio. During the Holy Year the light of the Faith truly shone most brightly in the Great Republic of the West, the chosen Cradle of its Administrative Order. One of the most moving, never-to-be-forgotten moments of these glorious celebrations was when the Bahá'ís, over 2,500 in number, filed past the Guardian's representative, Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, to be anointed with attar of rose Shoghi Effendi had entrusted to her for this purpose, on the occasion of the purely Bahá'í dedication ceremony in the Temple, followed by selections from sacred scriptures read in English and chanted in Persian and Arabic - a programme arranged by the Guardian himself - and crowned by a solemn act of visitation when they filed past the portraits of both The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh and were permitted to gaze for a fleeting and sacred moment at the faces of the twin Manifestations of God for this New Day in which mankind is living. Silently, deeply satisfied, deeply overwhelmed, they then left the House of Worship.

The third Intercontinental Bahá'í Teaching Conference, which convened in Stockholm during July, was honoured by having the largest attendance of Hands of the Cause of any of the others, fourteen being present, the five Persian Hands and one African Hand having just come from extensive travels in the Western Hemisphere, undertaken at the instruction of the Guardian, immediately following the launching of the Crusade in Chicago. It would not be inaccurate to characterize this third gathering as the "executive conference". Though numerically much smaller than the American one, circumstances permitted a hard core of the most dedicated and active National Assembly members, teachers, administrators and pioneers to be present from all over Europe, including 110 believers from the Ten Goal Countries. The attendants, from thirty countries, devoted themselves during six days not only to the solemn yet joyous recapitulation of those events which had transpired a century before and which the Holy Year commemorated, but to a studios analysis of the work their beloved Guardian had

Page 417

entrusted to the three European National Assemblies and that of the United States, the only other National body involved in the European work being that of Canada, which had been given Iceland as a consolidation goal.

In his message on this historic occasion Shoghi Effendi recalled not only the history of the Bahá'í Faith in relation to Europe - "a continent which, in the course of the last two thousand years, has exercised on the destiny of the human race a pervasive influence unequalled by that of any other continent of the globe" - but the effect both Christianity and Islam had had upon the unfoldment of its fortunes. In recapitulating the advances made and victories won since the end of the last World War the Guardian pointed out that these had been largely due to "the dynamic impact of a series of national Plans preparatory to the launching of a World Spiritual Crusade". Those Plans had been the second Seven Year Plan and a Two Year Plan launched by the British Bahá'ís, and a Five Year Plan prosecuted by the German and Austrian Bahá'í Communities. the result of these well-organized labours had been the establishment of local Assemblies in Eire, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales and in each of the capitals of the Ten Goal Countries, a large increase in the number of Assemblies, centres and believers throughout Europe, the election of yet another independent national body, and the acquisition of a national Bahá'í headquarters in Frankfurt. The hour was now ripe, Shoghi Effendi wrote, for them "to initiate befittingly and prosecute energetically the European campaign of a Global Crusade" which would not only broaden the foundations of the Faith in Europe but would "diffuse its light over the neighbouring islands" and would "God willing, carry its radiance to the Eastern territories of that continent, and beyond them as far as the heart of Asia". Europe, he stated, was entering upon "what may well be regarded as the opening phase of a great spiritual revival that bids fair to eclipse any period in its spiritual history." He went on to express the hope that "the elected representatives of the National Bahá'í Communities entrusted with the conduct of this momentous undertaking launched on the soil of this Continent" might "lending a tremendous impetus to the conversion, the reconciliation and the ultimate unification of the diverse and conflicting peoples, races and classes dwelling within the borders of a travailing, a sorely-agitated, and spiritually famished continent.

Page 418

Words such as these fired the attendants to take immediate action and there were not only 63 offers from among those present to pioneer to European goals, but, what was much more unusual, various national bodies and committees, whose members were present in numbers immediately took up these offers and before the Conference ended pioneers had been allocated to every goal given the European believers with the exception of those territories within the Soviet orbit. The thrilling objective of the erection of one of the two Bahá'í Temples called for in the original outline of the "Ten Year Teaching and Consolidation Plan" - the Mother Temple of Europe to be built in German - received substantial financial pledges, as did three other European projects involving large sums of money, namely the purchase of the National Haziratu'l-Quds of the British Bahá'ís and the sites for two future Bahá'í Temples, one in Stockholm and one in Rome. Many of the new pioneers were deputized by zealous but less free individuals attending the Conference and touching sacrifices of personal belongings were made by those unable to contribute money. the convocation of such a Conference met with wide and favourable publicity and the public meeting held in conjunction with it attracted one of the largest audiences gathered under Bahá'í auspices that had yet been seen on the Continent.

Twelve months after the beginning of the Holy Year, ushered in during mid-October 1952, the great Asian Intercontinental Teaching Conference took place in New Delhi, India. Though the logical place for such a gathering would have been Persia, or failing this, Iraq, the temperature of the fanatical populations of these countries and the constant and unchanging animosity of the Muslim clergy made the choice of either place impossible. It was therefore highly befitting that the great sister country to the east - opened in the earliest days of Bahá'u'lláh's Ministry - should receive this honour. To it flocked hundreds of His followers from all over the world from places as far apart as Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, many countries in the Western Hemisphere, and particularly Persia, as well as all five Asiatic Hands, who had already attended, at the request of the Guardian, the African, American and European Conferences. There were also present six other Hands of the Cause from the Holy Land, Europe, America, Africa and Australia. In his message to this last of the great Teaching Conferences Shoghi Effendi, after greeting its attendants "with high hopes and a joyful heart", pointed out the unique

Page 419

circumstances and significance of the work in Asia: in this "world girdling crusade" the "triple Campaign, embracing the Asiatic mainland, the Australian Continent and the islands of the Pacific Ocean" might "well be regarded as the most extensive, the most arduous and the most momentous of all the Campaigns". Its scope was "unparalleled in the history of the Faith in the Eastern Hemisphere"; it was to take place in a continent on whose soil "more than a century ago, so much sacred blood was shed", a continent enjoying an unrivalled position in the Bahá'í world, a continent where the overwhelming majority of Bahá'u'lláh's followers resided, a continent that was "the cradle of the principal religions of mankind; the home of so many of the oldest and mightiest civilizations which have flourished on this planet; the crossways of so many kindreds and races; the battleground of so many peoples and nations", above whose horizon in modern times the suns of two independent Revelations had successively risen, and within whose boundaries such holy places as the Qiblih of our Faith (Bahji), the "Mother of the World" (Tehran) and the "Cynosure of an adoring world" (Baghdad) are embosomed. The Guardian ended his message with an expression of assurance as well as a sad foreboding of what might lie ahead: "May this Crusade, launched simultaneously on the Asiatic mainland, its neighbouring islands and the Antipodes...provide, as it unfolds, an effective antidote to the baneful forces of atheism, nationalism, secularism and materialism that are tearing at the vitals of this turbulent continent, and may it re-enact those scenes of spiritual heroism which, more than any of the secular revolutions which have agitated its face, have left their everlasting imprint on the fortunes of the peoples and nations dwelling within its borders."

No less enthusiasm for the tasks ahead - the most staggering of which was work in 84 territories, half of them virgin areas - filled the hearts of the Bahá'ís gathered in New Delhi than had characterized the reaction of their brothers and sisters attending the three previous Conferences. This enthusiasm was further heightened when a cable was received from the Guardian giving the glad-tidings that his own personal hope - expressed before the festivities of the Holy Year began - had been attained through the completion of the superstructure of The Báb's Holy Sepulchre. The Bahá'ís rallied strongly to meet their given goals: offers to pioneer were received from over 70 people, 25 of whom proceeded to their posts shortly after the Conference ended; funds were lavishly

Page 420

contributed towards the purchase of the three sites for future Bahá'í Temples - Baghdad, Sydney and Delhi, 9 acres of land for the latter being acquired before the Conference rose; substantial donations were received for that most precious and longed-for Temple to be erected in Bahá'u'lláh's native city, the capital of Persia, which was one of the two Temples originally scheduled to be built during the World Crusade; public meetings and a reception for over a thousand guests were held at which many important figures were present; India's President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, as well as her famous Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, received delegations from the Conference and the publicity was wide and friendly. At the end of the Conference Shoghi Effendi instructed the Hands attending it to disperse on trips lasting some months, himself providing both assistance and directions as to their itineraries.

In addition to what might be called his routine work, already consuming daily an alarming amount of his time, for two years Shoghi Effendi had not only worked on and fully elaborated the details of a global crusade, as well as on the exhaustive plans for these great jubilee celebrations, but had also written God Passes By and a similar, but shorter, version of the same theme, in Persian. One might have thought that a lull in his creative output would ensue, but such was not the case. Cables and letters streamed from him at the end of each of the Conferences like missiles towards targets. For four years he never let the white hot heat he had engendered wane. A typical example of this is the tone in which, immediately after the American Conference ended, when the bemused Bahá'í world had scarcely begun to recover from the first glorious revelation of the new Plan, he cabled the Persian National Assembly: "Announce friends no less 128 believers offered pioneer services during celebrations Wilmette including offer pioneer leper colony. Appeal friends not allow themselves surpassed western brethren. Hundreds must arise. Enumerated goals at home abroad must promptly be fulfilled. Upon response progress protection victory entire community depends. Eagerly awaiting evidence action." Such oft-repeated appeals had such an effect on a community which had lived its entire existence in a wretched cage of prejudice and persecution that the Persian believers, seeing, unbelievably, a door open before them, began to poor forth to the four corners of the world in ever-swelling numbers; without their assistance, their strong financial support and their constant

Page 421

readiness to sacrifice, the Crusade could never have been won on the scale that marked its triumphal conclusion in 1963.

Well aware of the fact that the believers in the West were few in number, Shoghi Effendi himself frequently assisted them in their projects. Immediately after the official inauguration of the Crusade at the Chicago Conference, he sent a contribution of 500 [pounds] to the Central American National Assembly to help purchase its Temple site in Panama and 1,000 [pounds] to the Italo-Swiss National Assembly for its Temple site in Rome; at the same time he put pressure on the United States, the British and the Indian National Assemblies to speed up their publication of Bahá'í literature in the languages allotted to them in the Ten Year Plan, sending a 1,000 [pounds] donation himself to England, as he knew the financial burden their share of this extremely important work imposed was more than they could shoulder alone. Included in the provisions of the World Crusade were 91 new languages into which Bahá'í literature was to be translated, 40 in Asia, 31 in Africa, 10 in Europe and 10 in America, for which the Indian, Australian, British and American Communities were responsible. Throughout the years of the Crusade he frequently supported this work himself, indeed,throughout his entire ministry the question of languages had been one of his chief concerns. He chose them, urged their publication, kept inquiring when the finished product would be ready, paid very often, for them to be printed, and sometimes for their publication, kept inquiring when the finished product would be ready, paid, very often, for them to be printed, and sometimes for their translation as well, and not infrequently purchased a supply for himself in Haifa.

The combination of Shoghi Effendi's vision, his constant insistence on getting the work of the Cause done, and his not infrequent financial assistance, made possible by the Huqúq (Right of God) which was payable to him as Head of the Faith in accordance with the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, provided the motive power behind many undertakings. He gave his contributions wisely and graciously, sometimes as an example to others, sometimes as a personal form of participation in some enterprise particularly close to his heart, sometimes because there was no other source to be drawn upon. A significant example of this was 50 [pounds] he gave the Tasmanian Bahá'ís to carry out their first State Teaching Campaign. On innumerable occasions he paid for the travels of Bahá'í teachers, particularly following the passing of the Master when the believers in the West were faced with many tests and required the deepening in faith which he felt a visit from one of the old and tried Persian Bahá'ís could provide; later he provided

Page 422

the expenses of those Hands of the Cause who were not in a position to finance themselves on the trips he instructed them to take. When he removed the remains of the mother and brother of `Abdu'l-Bahá from their lowly cemeteries in Akka and entombed them in state on Mt Carmel he contributed 1,000 [pounds] to the Mother Temple of the West in their memory. On a number of occasions, throughout all the great Plans, he gave a sum of money and called for a specific number of believers to arise and with this sum fulfil a certain objective. To such pledges he would sometimes link touching and revealing statements, saying he was "deprived of personal participation", or that this was his "initial donation". He never failed to contribute lavishly to the victims of many disasters. In Persia, when Bahá'í villagers were persecuted and martyred, when the settlers in Russia were expelled and returned penniless to their land of origin, when earthquake or flood had left the friends homeless and destitute, Shoghi Effendi went to their assistance. He allocated a yearly contribution to the Persian National Assembly to assist in purchasing the historic sites associated with the Faith in that country, which constituted one of its specific tasks. He assisted in the purchase of various national Bahá'í headquarters and Temple sites, and frequently himself paid for the erection of the tombstones of prominent and much-loved believers as a mark of his personal esteem and affection.

The greatest single contribution of the Guardian's ministry, however, was his pledge of one-third of a million dollars towards the erection of the three Temples which became part of the World Crusades goals. How he reached this figure was typical of the way he did everything. I remember it all very clearly: he first provided the designs for the Temples, then got estimates from the National Assemblies entrusted with the task of building them - and tied them down, incidentally, to a ceiling price; he then, having ascertained the Temples would cost in the neighbourhood of a million dollars, and that almost $150,000 was already available for them, estimated how much the Bahá'ís might be able to raise by the time, towards the end of the Crusade, their completion could be anticipated, and, having figured out about one-third was assured by this calculation, he proceeded to figure out what he felt he himself could give, knowing from past experience what the World Centre income might be and to what other plans he was committed; having allowed for contingencies he arrived at his figure of a third-of-a-million dollars. The third third he left to God, so to speak,

Page 423

knowing full well that if His followers exerted their utmost, by mysterious means forces would be released which would enable the believers to attain their goal.

But let us return to the newly inaugurated "fate-laden, soul-stirring, decade-long, world-embracing Spiritual Crusade" with its four objectives: development of the institutions at the World Centre of the Faith; consolidation of the home fronts of the twelve territories serving as the administrative bases of the twelve Plans which were component parts of The Plan; consolidation of all the territories already opened to the Faith; opening of the remaining chief virgin territories of the planet. Although the administration of the Crusade had been entrusted to the twelve National Assemblies, nevertheless every single believer, irrespective of his race, nation, class, colour, age or sex, was to lend his particular assistance to the accomplishment of this "gigantic enterprise". In a colourful passage of scintillating prose Shoghi Effendi lifted the curtain on the arena of the new Plan: Where? Why, everywhere - in the Arctic Circle, in the deserts, the jungles, the isles of the cold North Sea and the torrid climes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. To whom? Why, to all peoples - to the tribes of Africa, the Eskimos of Canada and Greenland, the Lapps of the far north, the Polynesians, the Australian aborigines, the red Indians of the Americas. Under what circumstances? Not only in the wilderness, but in the cities, "immersed in crass materialism", where people breathed the fetid air of "aggressive racialism", bound by the chains of "haughty intellectualism", surrounded by "blind and militant nationalism", immersed in "narrow and intolerant ecclesiasticism". What strongholds must Bahá'u'lláh's soldiers storm? The strongholds of Hinduism, the monasteries of Buddhism, the jungles of the Amazon, the mountains of Tibet, the steppes of Russia, the wastes of Siberia, the interior of China, Mongolia, Japan, with their teeming multitudes - nor should they forget to sit with the leper and consort with the outcast in their penal colonies. "I direct my impassioned appeal," he wrote, "to obey, as befits His warriors, the summons of the Lord of Hosts and prepare for that Day of Days, when His victorious battalions will, to the accompaniment of hosannas from the invisible angels in the Abhá Kingdom, celebrate the hour of final victory."

It is clear that the Guardian envisaged this Ten Year undertaking as no more and no less than a battle of the "worldwide, loyal, unbreachable army" of "Bahá'u'lláh's warriors", His

Page 424

"army of light", against the entrenched battalions of darkness holding the globe. Its "Supreme Commander" was `Abdu'l-Bahá; behind Him stood His Father, the "King of Kings", His aid pledged "to every crusader battling for His Cause". "Invisible battalions" were mustered "rank upon rank, ready to pour forth reinforcements from on high". And so the little band of God's heroes assembled, ready to go forth and "emblazon on their shields the emblems of new victories", ready to implant the "earthly symbols of Bahá'u'lláh's unearthly sovereignty" in every country of the world, ready to lay the unassailable administrative foundation of His Christ-promised Kingdom of God upon earth.

In retrospect we see that Shoghi Effendi divided his great World Crusade into four phases. The first was from Ridvan 1953 to Ridvan 1954, the second from 1954-6 and the third from 1956-8. the end of the fourth phase he linked with the completion of the Temples schedule to be constructed during the Ten Year Plan, all three of which were practically entirely completed by 1963. The Guardian did not have the period of these phases fixed in his mind at the inception of the Plan; they were a result of the natural growth of the forces released by the Crusade and the nature of the victories won, though there can be no doubt that it was his mind that directed these forces, first towards one set of goals, then towards another, throughout all the campaigns waged by his one army with its twelve battalions.

Three weeks after the opening of the Crusade Shoghi Effendi cabled the Bahá'í world that the "paramount issue challenging" the prosecutors of the Plan was the need for "immediate, determined, sustained, universal" dispersal throughout the unopened territories. Shoghi Effendi, never lacking a fitting sense of protocol, including what one might call divine protocol, said the Chief Executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan, by virtue of the primacy conferred on them in His Tablets, enjoyed the prerogative of sending their pioneers to goals allotted to their sister communities in the East or the West. He then appealed for 130 "Bahá'í warriors" to arise and fill the gaps of the unconquered territories of the globe during the first year of the Crusade. Four months later, before the Asian Intercontinental Teaching Conference had even been held, he was able to inform the Bahá'í world that over 300 believers had volunteered to pioneer, 150 from North America, over 50 from Europe, over 40 from Africa and over 40 from Asia. In less than five months 28 territories and islands had been opened.

Page 425

Always emboldened by success Shoghi Effendi told the friends that as the total countries in the world opened to the Faith had now surpassed 150 they should endeavour to make it 200 by the end of the Holy Year. The Bahá'ís almost succeeded in meeting this date, the 200 mark being reaching three weeks after the close of the Holy Year. It was in September 1953 that Shoghi Effendi announced the first names of those whom he inscribed on the "Roll of Honour" which he planned, when completed, to place under the floor at the entrance of Bahá'u'lláh's Holy Tomb in Bahji, a befitting place for His heroic "Knights"; both the names and the territories opened were listed on it and until the end of his life the Guardian continued to make these periodic announcements of pioneers. By 1963 the Roll included representatives of all races, from all continents, of both sexes and many countries. Nine months after the opening of the Crusade the Guardian could announce that almost ninety territories had been opened, three-quarters of the total number, exclusive of those within the Soviet Orbit, and in his Ridvan Message of 19545 he was able to give the glad-tidings that the "Knights of the Lord of Hosts in pursuance of their sublime mission for the spiritual conquest of the planet" had opened 100 virgin territories. In so doing the opening phase of the Crusade had been "triumphantly concluded...exceeding our fondest expectations."

It was during this same Ridvan period that the Hands of the Cause in different continents, pursuant to detailed instructions which the Guardian had given in previous communications, appointed for each continent an Auxiliary Board of nine members who would act as their "deputies, assistants and advisers", and that five Continental Funds were also initiated at his instigation to facilitate the work of this unfolding institution.

Having seized 100 new prizes the army of Bahá'u'lláh was now engaged in depth. Shoghi Effendi, his mind more or less at rest about the progress on the front lines, immediately set about digging in. The second phase of the Plan, now opening, was primarily concerned with consolidation. In his 1954 Ridvan Message the Guardian listed 13 points which were to be concentrated upon during the coming two years: prosecution of the all-important teaching work; preservation of all prizes won; maintenance of all local Assemblies; multiplication of groups and centres - all to hasten the emergence of the 48 National Assemblies scheduled to be formed during the Crusade; purchase of Temple sites; initiation

Page 426

of special funds for purchase of the specified National Haziratu'l-Quds; speedy fulfilment of various language tasks; acquisition of historic Bahá'í sites in Persia; measures for the erection of the Tehran and Frankfurt Temples; establishment of the Wilmette Temple dependency; inauguration of national endowments; incorporation of local Assemblies; establishment of the New Publishing Trusts. He directed his "fervent plea" to accomplish such monumental labours as these to the 108 people constituting the 12 National Assemblies of the Bahá'í world, out of the teeming millions of human beings on the planet!

The miracle was that such an appeal, to what in the eyes of the sophisticated could not but appear to be pitifully weak instruments, should have had such an effect. All over the Bahá'í world the leaders and rank and file redoubled their efforts and sweeping victories were won. In 1955 Shoghi Effendi informed the believers in his annual Ridvan Message, which was his main instrument for conveying news of the progress of the Faith, that the Plan was "forging ahead, gaining momentum with every passing day, tearing down barriers in all climes and amidst divers peoples and races, widening irresistibly the scope of its beneficent operations, and revealing ever more compelling signs of its inherent strength as it marches towards the spiritual conquest of the entire planet."

In spite of his constant encouragement, however, there were times when Shoghi Effendi felt compelled to address the commanders of his battalions - the twelve National Assemblies - in sombre terms. One very significant example of this is the message he cabled them in May 1955 in which he says he is "impelled" at "this grave hour" to ask them to ponder anew the "full implications" and "essential requirements" of their "stewardship" of the Cause and says he entreats them not to "allow any vicissitudes present or future dampen their ardour" or "weaken their resolution". He appealed to them all, but particularly those who were "untrammelled by disabilities shackles imposed their less privileged brethren" to accelerate the tempo of their work and multiply their exploits, thus offsetting the "transient setbacks" a steadily advancing but not yet "fully emancipated" Faith might suffer.

During August of that same year the Bahá'í world was subjected to one of its periodic crises - a crises which took a heavy toll of the strength and forces of the Guardian and was one more factor hastening his premature death at a relatively young age. In a cabled

Page 427

message which he said should be transmitted to all Hands and National Assemblies, Shoghi Effendi stated that what was still the largest community of believers was experiencing a "violent recrudescence of persecutions afflicting intermittently for over century members residing Bahá'u'lláh's native land": the National Headquarters in Tehran had been seized and its dome publicly demolished by one of Persia's leading divines - in the presence and with the cheerful assistance of a general of the Iranian Army - followed by the occupation of similar local institutions throughout the provinces; the Parliament of the country made a declaration outlawing the Faith; the press and radio viciously attacked and calumniated its aims and purposes, and the Bahá'ís were subjected to a series of atrocities throughout the whole land; the Holy House of The Báb was twice desecrated and severely damaged; other Holy Places were occupied or destroyed; the shops and homes of Bahá'ís were looted and razed; bodies were dug up in Bahá'í cemeteries and mutilated; Bahá'í adults and children were beaten and women abducted and force to marry Muslims; a family of seven, the oldest 80, the youngest 19, were hacked to pieces with spades by a mob 2,000 strong, to the accompaniment of music from drums and trumpets. Such horrors aroused the violent indignation of the entire Bahá'í world and, at the instigation of the Guardian, over a thousand messages poured into Persia to the authorities from places members of its Parliament had never even heard of. The United Nations was appealed to, as well as Presidents and prominent figures throughout the civilized part of the world. The Director of the Division of Human Rights assured the American National Assembly (the official representative of other Bahá'í bodies now accredited to the United Nations as a non-governmental body under the name "International Bahá'í Community") that a summary of the situation was being furnished to both the Commission of Human Rights and the Persian Government, whilst the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a commission of United Nations officers, headed by the High Commissioner for Refugees, which had instructions to make representations to the Persian Government and seek assurances from it that the rights of the Bahá'í minority in Persia would be protected. What was not yet a fully emancipated Faith had nevertheless, after over a century of struggle, developed some powerful teeth and it bit back most effectively on this occasion, aided by a $40,000 publicity campaign in the United States. Shoghi Effendi, in

Page 428

addition to directing such vigorous counteraction to such barbarous attacks on a peaceable and defenceless community, initiated an "Aid the Persecuted" Fund, to which he himself immediately contributed about $18,000 and which was widely and warmly supported by indignant Bahá'í communities already struggling in the middle of a period of heavy financial commitments.

It was during this second phase of the World Crusade that the Bahá'ís accomplished such feats as purchasing 10 of the 11 Temple sites enumerated as goals of their Ten Year Plan, at a cost of over $100,000, of acquiring 30 out of the 51 national endowments at a estimated $100,000, and of buying 43 of the 49 national Bahá'í headquarters, for over half-a-million dollars, in various continents of the globe - the latter being a feat which Shoghi Effendi cryptically and significantly stated was "amply compensating for the seizure and occupation of the National Administrative Headquarters of the Faith and the demolition of its dome by the military authorities in the Persian capital."

There were many brilliant victories during these early years of the Crusade: the Siyah-"Ch al, scene of the first intimation of Bahá'u'lláh's Prophetic Mission, was purchased; His banner was planted in Islam's very heart through the establishment of a Spiritual Assembly in Mecca; the particularly welcome news reached the Guardian that there were Bahá'ís - remnants of the former communities in the Caucasus and Turkistan - in some of the Soviet states listed at the inception of the Crusade as unopened, but which might now be regarded as open, however faint and feeble the solitary candles burning there; 98 islands throughout the world now had Bahá'ís; work on the erection of the International Archives building at the World Centre was begun.

It was in a period of victories such as these that Shoghi Effendi took the momentous decision to erect not two but three Houses of Worship during the Ten Year Plan. The significance given in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá to these Mashriqu'l-Adhkars (dawning places of the mention of God) is very great: they are erected, Shoghi Effendi said, for "the worship of the one true God, and to the glory of His Manifestation for this Day." They are strongly linked to both the spiritual life of the individual and the communal life of the believers. The Guardian called the American Temple the "symbolic Edifice" of the Administration, "its mighty bulwark, the symbol of its strength and the sign of its

Page 429

future glory", the "harbinger of an as yet unborn civilization", the "symbol and harbinger of the World Order". Such "Mother" Temples, he said, were the great silent teachers of the Faith and occupied such a key position in its progress that he stated the American House of Worship incarnated the soul of the American Bahá'í Community in the Western Hemisphere. Although the first Temple was built according to `Abdu'l-Bahá'í own instructions in Ishqabad during his lifetime, the Guardian assured us that the first Temple erected in the New World was the holiest for all time because the Master Himself had laid its foundation stone during His visit to North America and it had been one of the undertakings dearest to His heart. By 1921, when Shoghi Effendi became Guardian, its foundations had been laid but the building `Abdu'l-Bahá had so longed to see erected before His passing was only a hideous black waterproofed cylinder, resembling a gas tank, sticking up above the ground.

The Guardian conceived it as one of his major duties to complete this sacred edifice as soon as possible. It took him thirty-two years to accomplish this task which he called the greatest enterprise ever launched by the western followers of the Faith and the most signal victory won during the Formative Period of the Bahá'í Dispensation. One of his first acts was to send 19 [pounds] to its Temple Fund in 1922, and in 1926 he says he is "joyously pledging 95 dollars per month as my humble share"; throughout the years he frequently contributed towards its erection. Shoghi Effendi encouraged the Bahá'ís to transform the great circular space, which in future would be surrounded by the steps of the Temple into a usable hall for Conventions and other gatherings, pending the construction, at a later period, of an auditorium for such purposes outside an edifice solely to be used for devotional services; by 1923 the Convention was held in what became known from then on as Foundation Hall; to embellish its walls he sent as he gift beautiful Persian rugs from the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh; until 1928, however, no progress was made in the erection of the Temple. To the Convention held that year he sent a strongly worded message pleading with the American believers to resume the construction of their great Temple and this influenced them to initiate what became known as the "Plan of Unified Action", designed to raise money for the extremely costly work of the superstructure. In spite of this by 1929 the required sum had not been obtained and Shoghi Effendi, not himself at that time in a position to send a large

Page 430

amount, decided to sell the most precious thing the Faith possessed in the Holy Land. He cabled the Convention: "Am sacrificing the most valuable ornament Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine in order consecrate and reinforce collective endeavours American believers speedily to consummate plan unified action appeal for unprecedented self-sacrifice." It was typical of him that he first cabled the Persian donor of this priceless object: "Temple work America progressing three quarters sum required first storey actually subscribed. Strongly feel desirability sale silk carpet you donated. Wire views promptly regarding market and price. Appreciate your consent." Only when he received a warm answer and advice to sell in New York did he inform America of his decision. So deeply touched were the Bahá'ís by this offering of their Guardian that they raised almost $300,000 before the Convention rose. Fearing that heavy debts might be incurred if the sum for the entire future work was not pledged in advance, Shoghi Effendi would not permit contracts to be signed. However, by the 1930 Convention the sum was pledged, the Guardian consented - and the Bahá'ís wanted to buy the precious carpet themselves, which in the meantime had reached the United States. His cabled replies were typical in every way: "Approve proceed construction entire Temple without external decorations provided believers are determined to consummate their sacrifice by adding decorations eventually. Feel we all should uphold design in its entirety as approved `Abdu'l-Bahá." "Consecrated carpet need neither be sold nor returned. Dedicated as permanent ornament first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of West." The Convention, overwhelmed, cabled its "deep gratitude for matchless gift". The enthusiasm Shoghi Effendi engendered by such messages and acts as these was not produced by policy on his part, but rather by the deep unselfconscious instinct of a born leader with a singularly pure motive and heart.

By the time of the 1931 Convention Shoghi Effendi was able to cable: "Greatest Holy Leaf joins me...expression our heartfelt congratulations boundless joy profound gratitude practical completion superstructure glorious edifice..." In 1933 he, again associating the sister of `Abdu'l-Bahá with this work, cabled: "beseech entire body American believers by love they bear departed Greatest Holy Leaf not allow slightest interruption progress Temple work so near her heart dim splendours their past achievements. Beg them ponder extreme urgency my entreaty." This

Page 431

message, sent in January, was followed in October by another cable: "Appeal hard pressed American believers heed this my last passionate entreaty not suffer slightest interruption Temple contributions dim magnificence their epoch-making enterprise... promise one years respite upon successful conclusion first stage ornamentation our glorious Temple." No wonder he put "out". He had struggled with the American Bahá'ís to erect this building "during" what he himself described as "one of the severest depressions experienced by the people of the United States in this century"; he had insisted, in the midst of this struggle, that only "unreserved" supporters of the Faith could contribute towards its construction, only those who were "fully conscious" of and "unreservedly submissive" to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh; he had rallied his fellow-Bahá'ís, few in number, for the most part poor, living from day to day in the shadow of economic disaster, by assuring them that such a significant enterprise should be supported "not be the munificence of a few but by the joint contributions of the entire mass of the convinced followers of the Faith", pointing out that the spiritual power destined to radiate from the Temple would depend to a large extent on the "range and variety of the contributing believers, as well as upon the nature and degree of self-abnegation which their unsolicited offerings" would entail. He encouraged, comforted and drove them to victory. Proudly he reminded them that no one else had what they had - the dual blessing of an efficiently functioning Administrative Order and a Temple!

Year after year the messages went out and the fabulous Temple went up, until, at the second and last great Centenary to be celebrated during Shoghi Effendi's lifetime, I was able to read those words: "On behalf of the Guardian of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, I have the great honour of dedicating this first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Western World to public worship...I greet and welcome you on behalf of the Guardian of our Faith within these walls..."

Such a brief history of a work so dear to `Abdu'l-Bahá'í and Shoghi Effendi's hearts conveys an idea of the importance of these Temples in the life of Bahá'í communities. It is small wonder then that at the inception of the Crusade the Guardian turned his attention to the problem of erecting the first Bahá'í Temple in Bahá'u'lláh's native land. In 1942 Shoghi Effendi announced that the Persian Bahá'ís had purchased a three-and-a-half-million square metre area near Tehran as the site of their future Mashriqu'l-Adhkar.

Page 432

They had been stimulated to do this by the consistent efforts of the American Bahá'ís in erecting their own Temple - must as the American Bahá'ís had been stimulated in 1903 to undertake a Temple of their own because the oriental Bahá'ís were building one in Asia, in Ishqabad. The Guardian attached great importance to this historic and sacred Temple. It is significant for us to remember that he rejected all of the many designs submitted to him, in response to his own invitation, because he found them far too extreme, too much the reflection of the current glass of fashion, undignified and unsuitable for the purposes of a Faith which will give birth to a World Order and civilization during a thousand-year Dispensation. He decided on a conservative concept, worked out with his personal approval in Haifa, which he stated, "incorporates a dome reminiscent of that of The Báb's Holy Sepulchre". Already the enthusiastic Persian believers had started a five year plan to raise twelve million tumans for its construction and the Guardian himself had had its design unveiled at the meeting in Bahji on the first day of Ridvan, 1953. It was a project to which Shoghi Effendi attached the greatest importance and the outlawing of all Bahá'í activity in Persia came as a severe blow to him for he realized that the situation there, far from having improved in the quarter of a century of his ministry, had again deteriorated to such a point that there was little hope of such a building being erected before the end of the Ten Year Plan. In spite of the fact that the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Europe - the second Temple of the Plan - could still be built, he immediately struck back at the enemies of the Faith through a cable sent in November 1955: "Historic decision arrived at raise Mother Temple Africa in City Kampala situated its heart and constituting supreme consolation masses oppressed valiant brethren cradle Faith. Every continent globe except Australasia will thereby pride itself on derive direct spiritual benefit its own Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. Befitting recognition will moreover have been accorded marvelous expansion Faith amazing multiplication its administrative institutions throughout continent..." Thus the African believers received what he characterized as "the stupendous, the momentous and unique project of the construction of Africa's Mother Temple."

Whereas Tehran was to have the third great Temple of the Bahá'í world and Germany the fourth, in reality the European one became third in priority and Africa the fourth. The design for the Africa Temple was made under Shoghi Effendi's supervision in

Page 433

Haifa and met with his full approval. The situation as regards the German one was different: he himself had chosen a design and sent it to the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria, but there was already so much strong church-aroused opposition to the erection of a Bahá'í House of Worship that the National Assembly had informed him they felt the conservative nature of the design he had chosen would, in a land favouring at the moment extremely modern-style buildings, complicate its erection, as a building permit might be refused on this pretext. Shoghi Effendi therefore permitted them to hold a competition and of the designs sent him he favoured the one which was later built.

There is no doubt in my mind that if Shoghi Effendi had asked the opinion of the Bahá'ís they would certainly have advised avoiding Germany; when he announced in 1953 that the European Temple would be built there it was only eight years since the terrible war had ended and with the exception of a few countries, where there were practically no believers at all, the Bahá'ís all over the world lived in lands which had suffered through or fought against Germany during the war. Unafraid, unhampered by worldly considerations, the Guardian pursued the spiritual destiny of the world-wide communion of the Greatest Name entrusted to his care. The standards of the world were never his index, only the standards enshrined in the teachings. Ever mindful of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í visit to that country and the love He had for that community, Shoghi Effendi had fostered its unfoldment from the very first years of his own ministry; it was one of the communities he included in the first, heart-broken, hesitant letters he sent out to the miniature Bahá'í world of those days in 1922. Writing of it in 1926 he had referred to, "The growing number of German Bahá'í Centres and adherents, the glorious words spoken by our Beloved regarding their destiny and dominant part in the future awakening of Europe..." and in 1927, in letters to Martha Root, he told her "Germany should become the pivotal centre of your activities as I attach great importance to the varied and rich opportunities offered by that awakening country..." "I feel you should devote more attention to Germany for I fully share with you the hopes you entertain for its future contribution to the spiritual regeneration of Europe." In 1947 he had referred to the "astounding resurgence" of the "war-devastated Community of Central Europe" and stated that within Germany's frontiers was to be found "the largest

Page 434

community of the adherents of the Faith on that continent - a community destined, as prophesied by `Abdu'l-Bahá, to play a major role in the spiritual awakening and ultimate conversion of the European peoples and races to His Father's Faith." Frankfurt was in the heart of Germany, Germany was in the heart of Europe. It was the logical place for the European Temple.

Still thoroughly aroused by the persecution of the main body of the faithful who resided in Bahá'u'lláh's native land, Shoghi Effendi quietly set a new plan in motion. He had chosen a third Temple design and instructed the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia and New Zealand to make inquiries, confidentially, as to how much such a building would cost if erected in Sydney. When he received as estimate which he felt would not add too heavily to the financial burden the Crusade was already carrying, he made his thrilling announcement, in his Ridvan Message of 1957, of the launching of an "ambitious three-fold enterprise, designed to compensate for the disabilities suffered by the sorely-tried Community of the followers of His Faith in the land of His birth, aiming at the erection, in localities as far apart as Frankfurt, sydney and Kampala, of the Mother Temples of the European, the Australian and African continents, as a cost of approximately one million dollars, completing the Temples already constructed in the Asiatic and American continents." This announcement meant that the loss to the Persian believers of their first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar would be compensated for by the erection in the Pacific of what the Guardian called "The Mother Temple of the Antipodes, and indeed the whole Pacific area" and the construction in the heart of the African Continent of another House of Worship which he said was "destined to enormously influence the onward march of the Cause of God the world over, to consolidate to a marked degree the rising institutions of a divinely appointed Order and noise abroad its fame in every continent of the globe." The Guardian also announced in this Ridvan Message that the designs for all three of these "monumental edifices, each designed to serve as a house for the indwelling Spirit of God and a tabernacle for the glorification of His appointed Messenger in this day" would be shown to "the assembled delegates at the thirteen historic Bahá'í National Conventions being held for the first time during this year's Ridvan Festival."

It was during this second phase of the World Crusade that the American National Assembly purchased the land for its first

Page 435

Temple dependency. The Guardian had advised that Assembly that he did not consider a library - the first proposal - sufficiently demonstrative of the purpose and significance of the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Bahá'í society and it was therefore decided to build a Home for the Aged. One of his last letters was to urge that Assembly to commence work on the Home, as it would impress on the public that one of the chief functions of our Faith is to serve humanity, regardless of creed, race or denomination, and be sure to attract attention and publicity.

Page 436

Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind.


The Guardian had fused in the alembic of his creative mind all the elements of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh into one great indivisible whole; he had created an organized community of His followers which was the receptacle of His teachings, His laws and His Administrative Order; the teachings of the twin Manifestations of God and the Perfect Exemplar had been woven into a shining cloak that would clothe and protect man for a thousand years, a cloak on which the fingers of Shoghi Effendi had picked out the patterns, knitted the seams, fashioned the brilliant protective clasps of his interpretations of the Sacred Texts, never to be sundered, never to be torn away until that day when a new Law-giver comes to the world and once again wraps His creature man in yet another divine garment.

The Master's grandson had been sublimed by the forces released in His Testament into the Guardian of the Faith; belonging to the sovereign caste of his divine Forefathers he was himself a sovereign. To the primacy conferred by ties of consanguinity had been added the powers of infallible guidance with which the operation of God's Covenant had invested him. Shoghi Effendi's divine and indefeasible right to assume the helm of the Cause of God had been fully vindicated through thirty-six years of unremitting, heart-breaking toil. It would be hard indeed to find a comparable figure in history who, in a little over a third of a century, set so many different operations in motion, who found the time to devote his attention to minute details on one hand and on the other to cover the range of an entire planet with his plans, his instructions, his guidance and his leadership. He had laid the foundations of that

Page 437

future society Bahá'u'lláh had fathered upon the mind of the Master, and which He in turn had gestated to a point of perfection, passing it upon His death into the safe hands of His successor.

Patiently, as a master jeweller works at his designs, picking out from his stock of gems some kingly stone, setting it amidst smaller but equally precious ones, so would Shoghi Effendi choose a theme from the Teachings, pluck it out, study it, polish its facets and set it amidst his brilliant commentaries, where it would flash and catch our eye as never before when it had lain buried beneath a heap of other jewels. It would be no exaggeration to say that we Bahá'ís now live in a room entirely surrounded by these glorious, blazing motifs Shoghi Effendi created. It is as if he had caught the sunlight of this Revelation in a prism and enabled us to appreciate the number of colours and rays that make up the blinding light of Bahá'u'lláh's words.

Things we knew all our lives suddenly, startlingly, took on a new and added significance. We were challenged, rebuked, stimulated. We found ourselves arising to serve, to pioneer, to sacrifice. We grew under his aegis and the Faith grew with us into something vastly different from what had existed before. Let us take a few of these master jewels, these themes Shoghi Effendi set before us in such a brilliant manner. One day Bahá'u'lláh rested on Mt Carmel. He pointed out a spot to `Abdu'l-Bahá and said buy this land and bring the body of The Báb and inter Him here. The Master brought the Precious Trust and placed it in the heart of the mountain and covered it with the building he erected with so many tears. The Guardian completed the sacred Edifice, and now the glorious Shrine of the Forerunner of the Faith rests in queenly splendour on Mt Carmel, the cynosure of all eyes.

The Master sent a handful of precious Tablets, written during dark and dangerous days, to America after the war and a pleasant ceremony was held called the "unveiling of the Divine Plan" at which pairs of children and young people (myself included) pulled strings and one of the Tablets duly appeared on the draped background of the platform. `Abdu'l-Bahá had sent a king's ransom to the North American believers, who rejoiced but did not understand. Shoghi Effendi, never losing sight of this gleaming hoard that had been deposited on the other side of the world, set about working his way to it. It took him almost two decades, but at last, having painfully and feverishly erected the machinery of the Administrative Order, he was in a position to take up those jewels and

Page 438

set them. The North was conquered, the South was conquered, the East and the West alike began to glow and blaze in all their parts with the light of new Bahá'í centres and Assemblies, more than 4,200 throughout the world. Into the various territories of the globe - 251 in number - which Shoghi Effendi had ensured should either be awakened or reanimated by the breezes of the Divine Plan, he had spilled the river of the translations of the literature of the Faith in 230 languages. For twenty years, since he first set in motion the power `Abdu'l-Bahá had concealed in those Tablets, Shoghi Effendi never ceased to wave forward an army of pioneers, battalion after battalion marching forth to conquer at his bidding the whole planet and implant, wherever it conquered, the Banner of Bahá'u'lláh.

Grasping the hidden import of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Carmel the Guardian entombed the Greatest Holy Leaf near the Shrine of The Báb, brought her mother and brother to rest beside her, designated this spot as the heart of a world-wide administration, drew an arc above it on the mountain side which he associated with Bahá'u'lláh's words "the seat of God's Throne ", built the first of the great edifices that will rise about that arc, and in innumerable passages pointed out the nature of the progress that must pour out from this great spiritual hub to all the peoples and nations of the world, a progress based on the teachings of a Faith that is "essentially supernatural, supranational, entirely non-political, non-partisan, and diametrically opposed to any policy or school of thought that seeks to exalt any particular race, class or nation"; a Faith whose "followers view mankind as one entity, and profoundly attached to its vital interests, will not hesitate to subordinate every particular interest, be it personal, regional or national, to the over-riding interests of the generality of mankind, knowing full well that in a world of interdependent peoples and nations the advantage of the part is best to be reached by the advantage of the whole"; a Faith the embryo of which, Shoghi Effendi explained, had developed during the Heroic Age, whose child, the social Order contained in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, would grow during the Formative Age, whose adolescence would witness the establishment of the World Order, and whose maturity in the distant reaches of the Golden Age would flower in a world civilization, a global civilization without precedent, which would mark "the furthermost limits in the organization of human society", which would never decline, in which mankind would continue to progress

Page 439

indefinitely and ascend to ever greater heights of spiritual power.

He divided the events that had taken place, and were taking place in the Cause of God, into sections, relating each to the whole evolution of the Faith, creating a map in relief that enabled us to see at a glance where our present labours fitted in, how much the achievement of an immediate objective would pave the way for the next inevitable step we must take in our service to Bahá'u'lláh's Cause. The definitions and divisions he employed were not arbitrary, but implicit in the teachings and in the course of events transpiring within the Faith. The Prophetic Cycle - which began with Adam and culminated with Muhammad - in the school of whose Prophets man had been educated and prepared for the age of his maturity, had given way to the Cycle of Fulfilment, inaugurated by Bahá'u'lláh. The unity of the planet, which science had made possible, would enable, nay, oblige man to create a new society in which a world at peace could devote itself exclusively to the material and spiritual unfoldment of man. Because of the very greatness of this transformation Bahá'u'lláh's shadow would be cast over the planet for five thousand centuries, the first ten of which would be governed by the laws, ordinances, teachings and principles He had laid-down.

This thousand-year-long Dispensation Shoghi Effendi divided into great Ages. The first, commencing with the declaration of The Báb and ending with the ascension of the Master, lasted seventy-seven years and was styled by the Guardian the Apostolic or Heroic Age of the Faith because of the nature of the events that transpired within it and the blood-bath that had characterized its inception and swept away 20,000 souls, including The Báb Himself. this Age was divided into three epochs by the Guardian, associated with the Ministry of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, respectively. The second Age, which Shoghi Effendi called the Formative Age, the Age of Transition, the Iron Age of the Faith, was the period during which its Administrative Order - the very hallmark of this Age - must evolve, reach perfection and effloresce into the establishment of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. The first epoch of the Age spanned the period from the inception of the Faith in 1944 and the events immediately following upon it, and the second epoch was consummated by the termination of the World Crusade in 1963, coinciding with the hundredth anniversary

Page 440

of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh. Although the Guardian never stated exactly how many epochs would characterize this Formative Age, he implied that others, equally vital, equally thrilling, would take place as the Faith steadily advance towards what he called its Golden Age, which, on more than one occasion, he intimated would probably arise in the later centuries of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh.

Shoghi Effendi said the Cause of God would pass from obscurity and persecution into the light of recognition as a world religion; it would achieve full emancipation from the shackles of the past, become a state religion and eventually the Bahá'í state itself would emerge, a new and unique creation in the world's religious history. When the Formative Age passed and man entered the Golden Age, he would have entered that Age foretold in The Bible in Habakkuk, 2: 14: "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."

The historic implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan by Shoghi Effendi was likewise divided into epochs by him and these in turn subdivided into specific phases, a device that enabled the Bahá'ís to follow closely the course of their own activities and to concentrate on specific goals. The first epoch of the Divine Plan passed through three phases, the first Seven Year pLan, the second Seven Year Plan and the Ten Year Teaching and Consolidation Plan which we came to term the World Crusade. This Crusade itself Shoghi Effendi divided into a series of phases: the first of these lasted one year, 1953-4; during it, Shoghi Effendi said, the vital objective of the Plan had been virtually attained through the addition of no less than 100 new countries enlisted under the Banner of Bahá'u'lláh; the second phase, from 1954 to 1956, was marked by a unique measure of consolidation as well as expansion, which not only paved the way for the election of the forty-eight new national bodies which was scheduled to take place before the Plan was consummated, but was characterized by unprecedented expenditures through the purchase of National Haziratu'l-Quds and Temple sites as well as the formation of Bahá'í Publishing Trusts; "the third and what promises to be the most brilliant phase of world spiritual Crusade" he wrote, would take place between 1956 and 1958, and was to be distinguished by an unparalleled multiplication of Bahá'í centres throughout the entire world as well as the formation of sixteen new National Assemblies. Before he passed away the Guardian indicated that the fourth phase of his mighty

Page 441

Plan, which would stretch from 1958 to 1963, must be distinguished not only by an unprecedented increase in the number of believers and centres all over the world but by progress in the erection of the three Temples which now formed part of the goals of the Ten Year Plan.

But for us, the end of this great leadership, that had given us such concepts as these, that had fulfilled in so brilliant a manner the work begun by `Abdu'l-Bahá, that had so worthily implemented not only His own instructions but the supreme guidance of the Manifestation of God Himself, was at hand. No one could know, no one could bear to know, that when the Bahá'í world received the message dated October 1957, it would be the last message of Shoghi Effendi. It was a happy and victorious message, full of hope, full of new plans, a last priceless gift from the man who as he wrote it was in reality laying down his pen and turning away his face from the world and its sorrows for all time. Soon, Shoghi Effendi informed us, the Global Spiritual Crusade would reach its midway point. that point was to be marked by the convocation of a series of five Intercontinental Conferences to be held in January, March, May, July and September of 1958, in Africa, the Antipodes, America, Europe and Asia, respectively. Following a pattern similar to the one he employed at the time of the convocation of the first four Intercontinental Conferences held during the Holy Year at the inception of the Crusade, Shoghi Effendi specified the five bodies under whose auspices these great gatherings would be held and whose chairmen were to act as their convenors. The Central and East African Regional Assembly was made responsible for the First Conference (surely it is not by chance that Africa, twice in period of five years, led the way in the series by holding the first Conference?); the National Assembly of Australia for the second; the National Assembly of the United States for the third; the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria for the fourth; and the Regional Assembly of South East Asia the final one. "They are to be convened", Shoghi Effendi wrote, "...for the five-fold purpose of offering humble thanksgiving to the Divine Author of our Faith, Who has graciously enabled His followers, during a period of deepening anxiety and amidst the confusion and uncertainties of a critical phase in the fortunes of mankind to prosecute uninterruptedly the Ten Year Plan formulated for the execution of the Grand Design conceived by `Abdu'l-Bahá; of reviewing and celebrating the series of signal victories won so

Page 442

rapidly in the course of each of the campaigns of this world-encircling Crusade; of deliberating on ways and means that will ensure its triumphant consummation; and of lending simultaneously a powerful impetus, the world over, to the vital process of individual conversion - the pre-eminent purpose underlying the Plan in all its ramifications - and to the construction and completion of the three Mother Temples to be built in the European, the African, and Australian continents."

Shoghi Effendi informed us that, "The phenomenal advances made since the inception of this globe-girdling Crusade, in the brief space of less than five years, both the number and quality of the feats achieved by its prosecutors, any previous collective enterprise undertaken...since the close of...the Heroic Age..." With evident joy, he recapitulated these feats and enumerated the victories won, characterizing them as "so marvellous a progress, embracing so vast a field, achieved in so short a time, by so small a band of heroic souls".

In was in this message that the Guardian appointed his last contingent of Hands of the Cause of God - eight more individuals to join this "august institution" - thus raising the total number of "high-ranking officers of a fast evolving World Administrative Order" to twenty-seven, an act which, in view of their recent assumption "of their sacred responsibility as protectors of the Faith", called for the formation of another Auxiliary Board, equal to the previous one in number, which would be "charged with the specific duty of watching over the security of the Faith". The five Hands who had been chosen by Shoghi Effendi to work at the World Centre were to attend these five Intercontinental Conferences as his special representatives. Two of them would place in the foundations of the Mother Temples being built in Kampala and Sydney "a portion of the blessed earth from the inmost Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh"; another portion of that sacred soil would be delivered in Frankfurt to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, pending the time when it could be placed in the foundations of the first European Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. A reproduction of the portrait of Bahá'u'lláh and a lock of His precious hair would not only be shown to the attendants at the European, Australian and African Conferences, but deposited with the national bodies in whose areas these great Houses of Worship were being erected, as a permanent and loving gift of their Guardian. The Guardian would send with the Hand who was to attend the Conference

Page 443

in Asia another reproduction of the portrait of Bahá'u'lláh for the assembled believers to view, but this was to be brought back far safe keeping to the Holy Land. At the Conference to be convened in Chicago Shoghi Effendi's representative would exhibit to the believers the portraits of Bahá'u'lláh and The Báb which he had previously entrusted to the care of the American National Assembly. These were the final gestures of love Shoghi Effendi was able to shower on the believers, that host of the faithful over whom he had watched, who had followed him so unfailingly, for so many history-making years.

When thousands of Bahá'ís from innumerable lands gathered during 1958, in fulfilment of Shoghi Effendi's plan and wish, at these five great Intercontinental Conferences, it was not only with awe that they gazed on the sacred portrait of the Founder of their Faith, but with grief-filled hearts and tear-filled eyes. Why had He, before Whose glory they bowed themselves, Whose teachings, they had espoused, into the depths of Whose deep and all-knowing eyes they were now gazing, seen fit to remove His scion from their midst? They not only cried out for their Guardian, they asked where was the Guardianship itself? It was the supreme test of faith; God had given, and God had taken back, and "He doth what He pleaseth. He chooseth; and none may question His choice. " When The Báb was martyred Bahá'u'lláh had remained; when Bahá'u'lláh ascended `Abdu'l-Bahá had remained; when `Abdu'l-Bahá passed away Shoghi Effendi had remained. But now it was as if a procession of Kings - albeit each different, vastly different in station from the other - had gone into a room of their own and closed the door. We Bahá'ís looked at the door and kept asking, like children whose parents have been killed in a earthquake and disappeared, why had it been closed?

Perhaps at no point in its history will the deepness of the root of belief that binds the Bahá'ís to their religion be again laid as bare as it was in the year after the passing of Shoghi Effendi. They bowed their head in agony of the grief that swept them, but they held. Had not the Guardian provided these five great rallying points at which the believers could come together in such large numbers, console each other and receive guidance from the Hands of the Cause who had risen to complete the Guardian's Plan and ensure the election of the divinely guided Universal House of Justice, it is hard to image how greatly affected the body of the Faith might have been by the sudden and totally unexpected death of its

Page 444

beloved Head. The fact that the friends were actively engaged in a Plan, the fact that the attention of the Bahá'í world was now focused on its midway point, the fact that at these Conferences five specific themes were to be given special attention, and the fact that they repeatedly received messages of love, faith and encouragement from the Hands of the Cause - all exerted a binding and unifying influence upon the Bahá'ís of the world. The very calamity itself brought to their hearts, cleansed by the rushing freshets of their grief, a new fortitude and called forth a deeper love. They were not going to fail Shoghi Effendi. He had told them to consider ways and means of ensuring the triumphal conclusion of the Plan - very well, they would do so, they would see it crowned befittingly in 1963 with a success that would have thrilled his heart and brought from his pen one of those rushes of praise and gratitude so dearly prized by them.

No testimony to the truth and the strength of the Cause could have been greater than the triumphal conclusion of the Guardian's World Crusade which the believers achieved. It had been a hard, an overwhelming task to begin with. That the Bahá'ís achieved it, that for over five years they worked and sacrificed to a greater degree than ever before in their history without his leadership, without those appeals, those reports, those marvellous word-pictures he painted for them in his messages, without the knowledge that he was there at the helm, their so dearly-loved captain steering them to victory and safety, is little short of a miracle and testifies not only to how well he builded, but to those words of the Master: "there is a mysterious power in the Cause, far, far above the ken of men and angels."

Life and death are so closely allied that they are the two halves of one heartbeat and yet death never seems very real to us in the normal course of events - who therefore awaited Shoghi Effendi's death! He had been in very good health that last summer, better than for a long time, a fact that he not only mentioned himself but which his doctor commented upon at the time he examined him some weeks prior to his passing. No one dreamed that the time clock inside that heart was reaching the end of its allotted span. Many times people have asked me if I did not notice indications that the end was near. My answer is a hesitant no. If a terrible storm comes suddenly into the midst of a perfect day one can later imagine one saw straws floating by on the wind and pretend they had been portents. I do remember a very few things that might

Page 445

have been significant, but certainly they meant nothing to me at the time. I could never have survived the slightest foreknowledge of the Guardian's death, and only survived it in the end because I could not abandon him and his precious work, which had killed him long before any one believed his life would end.

One of the goals of the Ten Year Plan associated with the World Centre, a goal the Guardian had allotted to himself, was what he termed the "codification of the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas , the Mother Book of the Bahá'í Revelation." Any work involving a book of this magnitude, which Shoghi Effendi had stated was, together with the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, "the chief depository wherein are enshrined those priceless elements of that Divine Civilization, the establishment of which is the primary mission of the Bahá'í Faith", would certainly be unsuitable for any one but the Head of the Faith to undertake. Shoghi Effendi worked on this for about three weeks or so in the spring of 1957 prior to his departure from Haifa. As I often sat in the room with him while he worked, reading out loud and making notes, I realized from what he told me that he was planning at that time a legal codification of the provisions in the Aqdas but rather a compilation, placing subject with subject, which would enable the Bahá'ís to comprehend the nature of the laws and ordinances given by Bahá'u'lláh to His followers. It was at this time that Shoghi Effendi remarked more than once that he did not feel he could ever finish this task he had undertaken. I attached no particular importance to this, as he sometimes fretted under the terrible load of his ever-increasing work, and attributed it to his great fatigue at the end of the long, exhausting, unbroken stretch of labour he had passed through during his months at home. After his death I remembered and wondered.

That last summer he went back to visit many of his favorite scenes in the mountains and I wondered about this too, when the blow fell, but at the time I was only happy to see him happy, forgetting, for a few fleeting moments, the burdens and sorrows of his life.

Before the time came to return to Haifa in November Shoghi Effendi went to London to purchase a few more things for the furnishing of the now completed Archives building and in anticipation of transferring after his arrival all the precious historical materials he had exhibited and stored in the six rooms in which they had previously been housed. While we were there the great

Page 446

epidemic of Asiatic influenza was sweeping Europe and we both fell ill with it. We had an excellent physician, whom the Guardian liked and trusted, and the attack was not particularly sever one, though he did have quite high fever for a few days. The doctor insisted that Shoghi Effendi should not arrange to leave London until he had been without any abnormal temperature for a week and to this he consented. In spite of his fever he read a great deal in bed and attended to his mail and cables. His illness at no time incapacitated him in any way, though it left him weak and with almost no appetite. When one week had passed from the time he first felt the effects of his influenza he was busy working on his last beautiful map, the one he called "the half-way point of the Ten Year Crusade". He had requested me to have a large table put in his room on which he could spread his map and for hours he worked at it, checking with me various figures and data against the many notes he kept showing the status of the Crusade all over the world. When I remonstrated with him about standing for so many hours to do this work when he was still so exhausted and begged him to wait a few days until he was feeling stronger, he said "No, I must finish it, it is worrying me. There is nothing left to do but check it. I have one or two names to add that I have found in this mail, and I will finish it today." While he was working he repeated once again the words I had so often heard him say during the last years of his life: "This work is killing me! How can I go on with this? I shall have to stop it. It is too much. Look at the number of places I have to write down. Look how exact I have to be!" He was tired when it was finally done and went back to his bed where he sat and read reports. So vast was the amount of material reaching him all the time from various parts of the Bahá'í world that if he did not keep abreast of it through reading many hours every day he risked never being able to catch up with it again.

But the strains and pressures of his life had been too many and early in the morning of 4 November he suffered a coronary thrombosis. Death must have come to him so gently and so suddenly that he died without even knowing he was ascending to another realm. When I went to his room in the morning to ask him how he was I did not recognize that he was dead. His eyes were half-open with no look of pain, alarm or surprise in them. He lay as if he had wakened up and was quietly thinking about something in a relaxed and comfortable position. How terribly he had suffered when he suddenly learned of the death of his grandfather! Now he had been

Page 447

called softly and quickly away to join Him. The suffering and shock were this time to be the portion of someone else.

It seemed to me, in the depths of my agony that black and terrible day, that I could not do to any Bahá'í what had been done to me. How could I cable the believers their Guardian had ascended? What of the old and the ill and the weak to whom this news would come as an insupportable blow, having the same effect on them which the news of the beloved Master's death had produced on Shoghi Effendi and on my own mother? It was because of this that I immediately cabled the members of the International Bahá'í Council in Haifa: "Beloved Guardian desperately ill Asiatic flu tell Leroy inform all National Assemblies inform believers supplicate prayers divine protection Faith." I knew that a few hours later I would have to follow this by a second cable telling them the full truth but I felt impelled to send this one first, in the hope of cushioning the terrible blow. Later in the day I again cabled Haifa giving the details of his death to be relayed from there to all National Assemblies throughout the world. Such news, I felt, should first come from the World Centre of the Faith:

Shoghi Effendi beloved of all hearts sacred trust given believers by Master passed away sudden heart attack in sleep following Asiatic flu. Urge believers remain steadfast cling institution Hands lovingly reared recently reinforced emphasized by beloved Guardian. Only oneness heart oneness purpose can befittingly testify loyalty all National Assemblies believers departed Guardian who sacrificed self utterly for service Faith.


The following day, on 5 November, another cable was sent to all National Assemblies, this time direct from London:

Beloved all hearts precious Guardian Cause God passed peacefully away yesterday after Asiatic flu. Appeal Hands National Assemblies Auxiliary Boards shelter believers assist meet heart-rending supreme test. Funeral our beloved Guardian Saturday London Hands Assembly Board members invited attend any press release should state meeting Hands shortly Haifa will make announcement to Bahá'í world regarding future plans. Urge hold memorial meetings Saturday.


The sea of grief this news released upon the believers in all parts of the world was similar tot hat which had flooded the hearts of the

Page 448

Bahá'ís thirty-six years earlier when they lost their Master in circumstances equally sudden and devastating. The problems attending this event were equally serious. In accordance with the laws of the Aqdas - of which Shoghi Effendi had himself been the appointed defender - burial must take place not more than one hour's journey from the place of death. I knew there could be no question of breaking this law and taking his remains back to the Holy Land. With infinite pains arrangements were made to inter the beloved of our hearts in a cemetery near London, a peaceful and beautiful spot, surrounded by trees and filled with the songs of many birds. The funeral was set for 10.30 A.M. on Saturday, 9 November. London became the lodestone of the entire Bahá'í world. Messages, telephone calls and believers began to pour into the National Haziratu'l-Quds, each bringing a fresh wave of grief and love to add to the surging sea of feeling that focused itself on that peaceful figure, still, and at last removed from all responsibility.

The first to rally round me in response to the shattering news I had conveyed to them were my compeers, the Hands of the Faith. I had turned to Hasan Balyuzi, who lived in London, immediately after the first terrible events following my entry into Shoghi Effendi's room were over. He joined me shortly and John Ferraby, who also lived there, came a little later. That night Ugo Giachery arrived from Rome and the next day Milly Collins flew from Haifa to be at my side, as she had so often been, in my hours of deepest need. Adelbert Muhlschlegel, a Hand who was fortunately also a physician, following a telephone conversation in which I had asked him if he would come and wash the sacred remains of the Guardian, had arrived from Germany with Hermann Grossmann. These fellow-Hands then shared the load with me and assured that everything that could possibly be done to show the respect, the gratitude and the love that so overwhelmed every sincere believer at the moment would be befittingly accomplished. As the days passed more and more Hands arrived from all the continents, an infinite comfort to me, to each other and to the believers. On the eve of the funeral of Shoghi Effendi we Hands met to choose selections for the service, the first of many readings that were to follow as the years of Shoghi Effendi's Crusade rolled by in triumph after triumph, to be finally crowned with the victory that he had hoped for and planned.

At last the day of final farewell arrived and hundreds of believers

Page 449

followed the coffin of the Guardian in a funeral cortege of over sixty automobiles that wended its way towards the Great Northern London Cemetery. On their arrival they found a great crown of believers already waiting there, practically the entire British Community having gathered in London to pay homage to the sacred Guardian whose remains, for some mysterious reason, God had chosen to entrust to the soil of their native land. As first the floral hearse piled high with glowing flowers and then the hearse containing the coffin of Shoghi Effendi drew up, the multitude stood in a stricken silence, heads bowed and many faces streaming with tears. The funeral service took place in the simple and dignified non-denominational chapel of the cemetery which was too small to hold all the believers within its walls. The description I wrote, which was published in The Passing of Shoghi Effendi some months later, best describes what then took place: "The Great Guardian was carried in and laid on the soft green covering of the catafalque. The Chapel was crowded to the doors, any many had to remain outside. All stood while the wonderful prayer, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh for the dead, was chanted in Arabic. Six other prayers and excerpts from the Teachings were then read by friends with beautiful voices, some in English, some in Persian, and representative of Bahá'ís from Europe, Africa, America, Asia - Negro, Jew and Aryan.

"In solemn file the friends followed the casket as it was borne out, placed in the hearse again, and slowly driven the few hundred years to the graveside.

"As all stood waiting for the coffin to be lowered into the grave, Ruhiyyih Khanum felt the agony of the hearts around her penetrate into her own great grief. He was their Guardian. He was going forever from their eyes, suddenly snatched from them by the immutable decree of God, Whose Will no man dare question. They had not seem him, had not been able to draw near him. She decided to ask for it to be announced that before the coffin was placed in the grave, the friends who wished might pass by it and pay their respects. For over two hours the believers, eastern and western, filed by. For the most part they knelt and kissed the edge or the handle of the casket. Rarely indeed in history can such a demonstration of love and grief have been seen. Children bowed their little heads beside their mothers, old men wept, the iron reserve of the Anglo-Saxon - the tradition never to show feeling in public - melted before the white-hot sorrow in the heart. The morning had

Page 450

been sunny and fair; now a gentle shower started and sprinkled a few drops on the coffin, as if nature herself were suddenly moved to tears. Some placed little flasks of Persian attar-of-rose at the head; one hesitatingly laid a red rose on the casket, symbol no doubt of the owner's heart; one could not bear the few drops of rain above that blessed, hidden face, and timidly wiped them off as he knelt; others with convulsed fingers carried away a little of the earth near the casket. Tears, tears and kisses, and solemn inner vows were poured out at the head of the one who had always called himself their 'true brother'. When the last believers in this grief-stricken procession had filed by, Ruhiyyih Khanum approached the casket, kissed it and knelt in prayer for a moment. She then had the green pall spread over it, laid the blue-and-gold brocade from the inner-most Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh on top of it and arranged the still-fragrant jasmin flowers over all its length. Then the mortal remains of him whom `Abdu'l-Bahá designated 'the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin Surging Seas ' were slowing lowered into the vault, amid walls covered with evergreen boughs and studded with flowers, to rest upon the rug from the Holy Tomb at Bahji."

With such homage, in such a spirit, did the Bahá'ís lay to rest the remains of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í blessed grandson.

All during the funeral upon his casket rested a great sheaf of red and white flowers which I had especially ordered and on which I placed a card that seemed to me to express the feelings of those who along had a right to share in this fragrant shield reposing over his body: "From Ruhiyyih and all your loved ones and lovers all over the world whose hearts are broken." When the vault had been sealed this sheaf rested upon it and like the waves of a multicoloured sea the thousands upon thousands of flowers the Bahá'ís had brought or ordered from all parts of the world lapped about it, completely covering the whole area around the grave with a thick mass of fragrant blossoms.

When the funeral was over the Bahá'í world was informed and the believers were requested to hold suitable memorial meetings:

Beloved Guardian laid rest London according laws Aqdas in beautiful spot after impressive ceremony held presence multitude believers representing over twentyfive countries east and west. Doctors assure sudden passing involved no suffering blessed countenance bore expression infinite beauty peace majesty. Eighteen Hands assembled funeral urge National Bodies request all believers

Page 451

hold memorial meetings eighteenth November commemorating dayspring divine guidance who was left us after thirtysix years utter selfsacrifice ceaseless labours constant vigilance.


In 1958 his grave was built of the same dazzling white Carrara marble he had himself chosen for the monuments of his illustrious relatives in Haifa, a simple grave as he would have wished it to be. A single marble column, crowned by a corinthian capital is surmounted by a globe, the map of Africa facing forward - for had not the victories won in Africa brought him the greatest joy during that last year of his life? - and on this globe is a large gilded bronze eagle, a reproduction of a beautiful Japanese sculpture of an eagle which he greatly admired and which he had placed in his own room. No better emblem than this symbol of victory could have been found for the resting-place of him who had won so many victories as he led the hosts of Bahá'u'lláh's followers on their ceaseless conquests throughout the five continents of the world.

Having, with adamantine fortitude in the face of every trial, accomplished "the toilsome task of fixing the pattern, of laying the foundations, of erecting the machinery, and of setting in operation the Administrative Order" to use the Guardian's own words; having effected the world-wide spread and establishment of the Cause of God through the implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan; having, through that rare spirit of his so admirably compounded of audacity and sobriety, guided the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh to heights it had never before reached; having carried the work his Lord had entrusted to him as far forward as his failing strength would permit; bearing the scars of innumerable personal attacks made upon him during the course of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi departed from the scene of his labours. The man had been "called by sorrow and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness". The Guardian, he who was named in the Master's Will the "primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree ", and who, through the provisions of that Will, had been so firmly planted in the soil of the believers' hearts after `Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing, remained forever, and well indeed will it be with "him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind. "

Table of Contents: Albanian :Arabic :Belarusian :Bulgarian :Chinese_Simplified :Chinese_Traditional :Danish :Dutch :English :French :German :Hungarian :Íslenska :Italian :Japanese :Korean :Latvian :Norwegian :Persian :Polish :Portuguese :Romanian :Russian :Spanish :Swedish :Turkish :Ukrainian :