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
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Ruhiyyih Khanum : The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith
By Ruhiyyih Rabbani

Foreword xiii

I Childhood and Youth

II 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í Ascension and its Consequences 13

III Early Years of the Guardianship 29

IV Martha Root and Queen Marie 39

V A Many Splendoured Personality 53

VI The Deepest Ties 65

VII The War Years 71

VIII The Writings of Shoghi Effendi 83

IX Creation of a World Headquarters 99

X The Heart and Nerve Centre 121

XI The Rise of the Administrative Order 145

XII Fundamental Truths and Guidelines 169

XIII The Spiritual Conquest of the Globe 197

XIV A Unique Ministry 229

Index 241


'Abdu'l-Bahá'í eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi Frontispiece

Birthplace of the Guardian Between pages 10-11

The Priceless Pearl
Shoghi Effendi and his sister
That child is born
The young scholar at his ease
The map maker's work
Study years in Beirut
'Abdu'l-Bahá on the steps of His home

The Master's secretary 34-35

Shoghi Effendi in oriental robes
Shoghi Effendi in his early twenties
Shoghi Effendi before he became Guardian
Shoghi Effendi with Harry Randall
The samovar

'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi 50-51

Some distinguished Bahá'ís with 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Shoghi Effendi in Alexandria, Egypt
Shoghi Effendi, 1920-1921

Balliol College, Oxford University 66-67

Balliol College, Junior Common Room
A gathering in Manchester, England
The first flight?

Shoghi Effendi with Dr. J.E. Esslemont 82-83

The Guardian after his return to Haifa
'Abdu'l-Bahá'í home
The Tomb of the Báb

The Tomb of the Báb on Mt. Carmel 90-91

The Guardian and Bahiyyih Khanum
The Guardian's handwriting
Shoghi Effendi in the early 1920's

The young Guardian in Switzerland 122-123

Interlaken, Switzerland
Shoghi Effendi in the Alps
Rivers, mountains and glaciers
The Guardian became a mountaineer
The indomitable enthusiast
The top of the mountain
Shoghi Effendi and his guide

Mountain hazards 154-155

Shoghi Effendi walking in the Swiss Alps
On top of the world
Bicycling over snowy passes

The mountaineer 162-163

A photograph by Shoghi Effendi
Victoria Falls, Rhodesia, 1929
A ferry on the Nile

African views 178-179

A photograph by the Guardian
The Guardian studies his gardens

Two views of Mt. Carmel 194-195

The Shrine on Mt. Carmel
The Shrine of the Báb on Mt. Carmel
The development of Mt. Carmel by Shoghi Effendi

The transformation of Mt. Carmel 210-211

Buildings erected by Shoghi Effendi
That Sacred Spot
The Resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf
The handwriting of Shoghi Effendi
Aerial view of Bahji

Baha'ullah's Tomb in Bahji 234-235

The Most Holy Tomb
Facsimile of Shoghi Effendi's handwriting
Facsimiles of Queen Marie's handwriting
The Guardian
The Funeral of Shoghi Effendi in London
The Grave of the Guardian

Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, and appointed Expounder of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, its Founder, is the one human being in all history, past, present or future, to exercise the greatest influence on the ultimate shape and modus operandi of the social order of the world. He is the one who understood the vision of his great-grandfather Bahá'u'lláh and his grandfather 'Abdu'lBaha -- respectively the Revealer and the Interpreter of teachings destined to reshape the divisive society of the present world and usher in an era of universal peace -- and applied Their doctrines in practical terms to the organization of such a future state of society. There cannot be, on this planet, a greater social or political unit than World Order. It is Shoghi Effendi who, while not the architect of that consummation, is certainly its chief builder and engineer. He laid the foundations of the Administrative Order of a Faith which, as it develops, will come -- as he stated -- "to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind."

Only his widow, Ruhiyyih Rabbani, could have written this book. For twenty years she was his wife, and for sixteen of those years his personal secretary; she was his close companion and his representative on many occasions. In a cable to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, her homeland, he designated her as "my helpmate, my shield in warding off the darts of Covenantbreakers and my tireless collaborator in the arduous tasks I shoulder." She shared in all the circumstances of his life and knew the pressures and restrictions both within and without the Bahá'í community which imposed themselves on his total dedication to his divinely-appointed task. She observed his deep love for his fellow Bahá'ís and his constant concern for their spiritual and material welfare.

It is apparent that countless eulogies, evaluations, acclamations, biographies and panegyrics of the God-given genius of Shoghi Effendi will be added in future to the already proliferating number. The prime depository of source material for such works will forever be The Priceless Pearl, Ruhiyyih Rabbani's own version of her illustrious husband's life and mission, of which this sister volume constitutes a more compact presentation. We can offer the gratitude of posterity to Ruhiyyih Rabbani for this clear and authentic account of his life and endeavours. But for the present generations, and particularly those of us who served under the beloved Guardian, no expressions of thanks can be adequate for the personal glimpses of our "true brother" -- as he was wont to sign his letters -- in action and in his daily life. This book, dealing so intimately with the life of a man who in 36 years of ministry left an indelible imprint on the fortunes of mankind, will outwear the ravages of time as it continues to bear authentic witness to the life and personality of Shoghi Effendi.

David Hofman
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Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon that primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree, grown out, blest, tender, verdant and flourishing from the Twin Holy Trees; the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin Surging Seas.

Like a cloud-break in a stormy sky these words, even as a mighty shaft of sunlight, broke through the gloom and tempest of dangerous years and shone from on high upon a small boy, the grandson of a prisoner of the Sultan of Turkey, living in the prison-city of 'Akka in the Turkish province of Syria. The words were written by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the first part of His Will and Testament and referred to His eldest grandchild, Shoghi Effendi.

Although already appointed the hereditary successor of his grandfather, neither the child, nor the ever-swelling host of followers of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the world, were made aware of this fact. In the Orient, where the principle of lineal descent is well understood and accepted as the normal course of events, there was hope, no doubt, that even as Bahá'u'lláh Himself had demonstrated the validity of this mysterious and great principle of primogeniture, so would 'Abdu'l-Bahá, His son and successor, do likewise. Many years before His passing, in answer to a question from some Persian believers as to whether there would be one person to whom all should turn after His death, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had written:

... Know verily that this is a well-guarded secret. It is even

as a gem concealed within its shell. That it will be revealed is

predestined. The time will come when its light will appear, when its

evidences will be made manifest, and its secrets unravelled.

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Until the Master passed away in November 1921, and His Will and Testament was found in His safe and opened and read, no one in the Bahá'í world knew that Shoghi Effendi was that "unique pearl", and just how unique and glorious a pearl it was that 'Abdu'lBaha left behind Him no one really understood until in November 1957 it was recalled to the Seas from which it had been born.

On the 27th day of Ramadan, 1314 of the Muslim calendar, Shoghi Effendi was born. This was Sunday, March 1, 1897 of the Gregorian calendar. These dates have been found in one of Shoghi Effendi's notebooks which he kept during his boyhood, written in his own hand. He was the eldest grandchild and first grandson of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, born of His oldest daughter, Diya'iyyih Khanum, and her husband, Mirza Hadi Shirazi, one of the Afnans and a relative of the Báb. He was invariably addressed by his grandfather as "Shoghi Effendi"; indeed, He gave instructions that he should at all times have the "Effendi" added and even told Shoghi Effendi's own father he must address him thus and not merely as "Shoghi". The word "Effendi" signifies "sir" or "mister" and is added as a term of respect; for the same reason "Khanum", which means "lady" or "madame", is added to a woman's name.

At the time of Shoghi Effendi's birth 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His family were still prisoners of the Sultan of Turkey, 'Abdu'l Hamid; it was not until the revolution of the Young Turks, in 1908, and the consequent release of political prisoners, that they were freed from an exile and bondage that, for Him and His sister at least, had lasted for over fifty years. In 1897 they were all living in a house known as that of 'Abdu'llah Pasha, a stone's throw from the great Turkish military barracks where Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and the company of believers who were with Them, had been incarcerated when they first landed in 'Akka in 1868. It was in this home that the first group of pilgrims from the Western World visited the Master in the winter of 1898-99, and many more of the early believers of the West; travelling along the beach in an omnibus drawn by three horses, they would proceed from Haifa to 'Akka, enter the fortified walls of the prison-city, and be welcomed as His guests for a few days in that house. It was from this home that 'Abdu'l-Bahá left to reside in freedom in Haifa, twelve miles away on the other side of the Bay of 'Akka. Entering through a passage across which the upper story of the building ran, one came upon a small enclosed garden where grew flowers, fruit trees, and a few tall palms, and in one corner of which a long stairway ran up to the upper floor and

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opened on an inner, unroofed court from which doors led to various rooms and to a long corridor giving access to other chambers.

To catch even a glimpse of what must have transpired in 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í heart when this first grandson was born to Him at the age of fifty-three, one must remember that He had already lost more than one son, the dearest and most perfect of them, Husayn, a beautiful and very dignified little boy, having passed away when only a few years old. Of the four surviving daughters of 'Abdu'l-Bahá three were to bear Him thirteen grandchildren, but it was this oldest one who bore witness to the saying "the child is the secret essence of its sire", not to be taken to mean in this case the heritage of his own father, but rather that he was sired by the Prophets of God and inherited the nobility of his grandfather 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The depths of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í feelings at this time are reflected in His own words in which He clearly states that the name Shoghi -- literally "the one who longs" -- was conferred by God upon this grandson:

. . O God! This is a branch sprung from the tree of Thy mercy.

Through Thy grace and bounty enable him to grow and through the showers

of Thy generosity cause him to become a verdant, flourishing,

blossoming and fruitful branch. Gladden the eyes of his parents, Thou Who

giveth to whomsoever Thou willest, and bestow upon him the name Shoghi

so that he may yearn for Thy Kingdom and soar into the realms of

the unseen!

By the signs Shoghi Effendi showed from earliest childhood and by his unique nature, he twined himself ever more deeply into the roots of the Master's heart. How great must have been the struggle of the grandfather to keep within bounds His love for this child lest the very blaze of that love endanger his life through the hatred and envy of His many enemies, ever seeking an Achilles heel to bring about His downfall. Many times when Shoghi Effendi spoke of the past and of 'Abdu'l-Bahá I felt not only how boundless and consuming had been his own love for the Master, but that he had been aware of the fact that 'Abdu'l-Bahá leashed and veiled the passion of His love for him in order to protect him and to safeguard the Cause of God from its enemies.

Shoghi Effendi was a small, sensitive, intensely active and mischievous child. He was not very strong in his early years and his mother often had cause to worry over his health. However, he grew up to have an iron constitution, which, coupled with the

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phenomenal force of his nature and will-power, enabled him in later years to overcome every obstacle in his path. The first photographs we have of him show a peaky little face, immense eyes and a firm, beautifully shaped chin which in his childhood gave a slightly elongated and heart-shaped appearance to his face. His eyes were of that deceptive hazel colour that sometimes led people who did not have the opportunity to look into them as often as I did to think they were brown or blue. The truth is they were a clear hazel which sometimes changed to a warm and luminous grey. I have never seen such an expressive face and eyes as those of the Guardian; every shade of feeling and thought was mirrored in his visage as light and shadow are reflected on water.

In the days of Shoghi Effendi's childhood it was the custom to rise about dawn and spend the first hour of the day in the Master's room, where prayers were said and the family all had breakfast with Him. The children sat on the floor, their legs folded under them, their arms folded across their breasts, in great respect; when asked, they would chant for 'Abdu'l-Bahá; there was no shouting or unseemly conduct. Breakfast consisted of tea, brewed on the bubbling Russian brass samovar and served in little crystal glasses, very hot and very sweet, pure wheat bread and goats' milk cheese. Dr. Zia Bagdadi, an intimate of the family, in his recollections of these days records that Shoghi Effendi was always the first to get up and be on time -- after receiving one good chastisement from no other hand than that of his grandfather!

He also tells us the story of Shoghi Effendi's first Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Dr. Bagdadi states that when Shoghi Effendi was only five years old he was pestering the Master to write something for him, whereupon 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote this touching and revealing letter in His own hand:

He is God! O My Shoghi, I have no time to talk, leave me alone!

You said "write" -- I have written. What else should be done? Now is

not the time for you to read and write, it is the time for jumping

about and chanting "O my God!", therefore memorize the prayers of the

Blessed Beauty and chant them that I may hear them, because there is no

time for anything else.

It seems that when this wonderful gift reached the child he set himself to memorize a number of Bahá'u'lláh's prayers and would

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chant them so loudly that the entire neighbourhood could hear his voice; when his parents and other members of the Master's family remonstrated with him, Shoghi Effendi replied, according to Dr. Bagdadi, "The Master wrote to me to chant that He may hear me! I am doing my best!" and he kept on chanting at the top of his voice for many hours every day. Finally his parents begged the Master to stop him, but He told them to let Shoghi Effendi alone. This was one aspect of the small boy's chanting. We are told there was another: he had memorized some touching passages written by 'Abdu'l-Bahá after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and when he chanted these the tears would roll down the earnest little face. From another source we are told that when the Master was requested by a western friend, at that time living in His home, to reveal a prayer for children He did so, and the first to memorize it and chant it was Shoghi Effendi who would also chant it in the meetings of the friends.

In his recollections of those early years one of the Bahá'ís has written that one day Shoghi Effendi entered the Master's room, took up His pen and tried to write. 'Abdu'l-Bahá drew him to His side, tapped him gently on the shoulder and said, "Now is not the time to write, now is the time to play, you will write a lot in the future." Nevertheless the desire of the child to learn led to the formation of classes in the Master's household for the children, taught by an old Persian believer. I know that at one time in his childhood, most likely while he was still living in 'Akka, Shoghi Effendi and other grandchildren were taught by an Italian, who acted as governess or teacher; a grey-haired elderly lady, she came to call shortly after I was married.

Although these early years of Shoghi Effendi's life were spent in the prison-city of 'Akka, enclosed within its moats and walls, its two gates guarded by sentries, this does not mean he had no occasion to move about. He must have often gone to the homes of the Bahá'ís living inside the city, to the Khan where the pilgrims stayed, to the Garden of Rid. van and to Bahji. Many times he was the delighted companion of his grandfather on these excursions. We are told that sometimes he spent the night in Bahji in the house now used as a pilgrim house; 'Abdu'l-Bahá would Himself come and tuck him in bed, remarking, "I need him."

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá first moved into the new home in Haifa (which was in use by members of His family in February 1907, if not earlier) the rooms were occupied by all the members of His family;

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eventually the families of two of His daughters moved to homes of their own near His, but the house was always crowded with relatives, children, servants, pilgrims and guests.

Shoghi Effendi entered the best school in Haifa, the College des Freres, conducted by the Jesuits. He told me he had been very unhappy there. Indeed, I gathered from him that he never was really happy in either school or university. In spite of his innately joyous nature, his sensitivity and his background -- so different from that of others in every way -- could not but set him apart and give rise to many a heart-ache; indeed, he was one of those people whose open and innocent hearts, keen minds and affectionate natures seem to combine to bring upon them more shocks and suffering in life than is the lot of most men. Because of his unhappiness in this school 'Abdu'l-Bahá decided to send him to Beirut where he attended another Catholic school as a boarder, and where he was equally unhappy. Learning of this in Haifa the family sent a trusted Bahá'í woman to rent a home for Shoghi Effendi in Beirut and take care of and wait on him. It was not long before she wrote to his father that he was very unhappy at school, would refuse to go to it sometimes for days, and was getting thin and run down. His father showed this letter to 'Abdu'l-Bahá Who then had arrangements made for Shoghi Effendi to enter the Syrian Protestant College, which had a school as well as a university, later known as the American College in Beirut, and which the Guardian entered when he finished what was then equivalent to the high school. Shoghi Effendi spent his vacations at home in Haifa, in the presence as often as possible of the grandfather he idolized and Whom it was the object of his life to serve. The entire course of Shoghi Effendi's studies was aimed by him at fitting himself to serve the Master, interpret for Him, and translate His letters into English.

It is very difficult to trace the exact course of events in these years. All eyes were fixed on the grandfather and much as people loved and respected the eldest grandson, when the sun shines the lamp is ignored! Some pilgrims' accounts, like that of Thornton Chase, the first American believer, who visited the Master in 1907, mentioned meeting "Shogi Afnan". Indeed Chase published a photograph showing Shoghi Effendi in what must have been his usual costume in those days, short pants, long dark stockings, a fez on his head, a jacket and a huge sailor's collar covering his shoulders. But there is not enough material available at present to fill in all the gaps. Even those who accompanied 'Abdu'l-Bahá on His

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journeys to the West, and kept careful diaries, did not think to record very much about the comings and goings of a child who was only thirteen when 'Abdu'l-Bahá set forth on His historic visits to Europe and America.

No sooner had 'Abdu'l-Bahá been freed from His long imprisonment and taken up His permanent residence in Haifa, than He began to contemplate this journey. A report published in America in "Bahá'í News", 1910, states: "You have asked for an account of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í departure for the land of Egypt. 'Abdu'l-Bahá did not inform anyone that He was going to leave Haifa ... within two days He summoned to His presence M.N., Shoghi Effendi and K. and this servant." One of the Bahá'ís recalls that a little before sunset, on that September afternoon when 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í ship set sail for Port Said in Egypt, Shoghi Effendiwas seated on the stepsof the Master's house, disconsolate and forlorn, and remarked: "The Master is now on board the ship. He has left me behind, but surely there is a wisdom in this!" or words to this effect. Well knowing what was passing in the heart of His grandson the loving Master no doubt sent for the child to soften the blow of this first, serious separation from Him; but more reference than this to that event has not been found. We know the Master stayed about a month in Port Said, later proceeding to Alexandria rather than to Europe, which was His original intention, and that Shoghi Effendi was with Him. As school opened in early October one presumes he returned to Syria. In April 1911, Shoghi Effendi was again with the Master, in Ramleh, a suburb of Alexandria, for a visiting Bahá'í from America, Louis Gregory, the first negro Hand of the Cause, mentions meeting, on April 16th, "Shogi", a beautiful boy, a grandson of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and says he showed great affection for the pilgrims.

'Abdu'l-Bahá'í thoughts, in spite of the arduous nature of His daily preoccupations during those exhausting months in America and later in Europe, must have often gone to His beloved grandson. We find mention of Shoghi Effendi in three of the letters the Master wrote to His sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahiyyih Khanum, during His travels, showing His anxiety over Shoghi Effendi and revealing His great love for him: "Write to me at once about Shoghi Effendi's condition, informing me fully and hiding nothing; this is the best way."; "Kiss the light of the eyes of the company of spiritual souls, Shoghi Effendi"; "Kiss the fresh flower of the garden of sweetness, Shoghi Effendi" . Such references clearly indicate

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His anxiety over a child who had not always been well and who, He well knew, missed Him terribly and suffered . We also have a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá addressed to Shoghi Effendi, expressing His concern about his health, but at what period it was written I do not know:

He is God! Shoghi Effendi, upon him be the glory of the

All-Glorious! Oh thou who art young in years and radiant of countenance, I

understand you have been ill and obliged to rest; never mind, from time to

time rest is essential, otherwise, like unto 'Abdu'l-Bahá from

excessive toil you will become weak and powerless and unable to work.

Therefore rest a few days, it does not matter. I hope that you will be

under the care and protection of the Blessed Beauty.

Shoghi Effendi was always active in corresponding with Bahá'í friends through personal letters. We learn from one of these, addressed to "Seyyed Mustafa Roumie" in Burma, and dated "Caiffa, Syria, July 28,1914", in which he says he is much pleased with the "glad tidings of the rapid progress of the Cause in the Far East", that he shared this letter with the Master and "a Holy tender smile ran over his radiant Face and his heart overflowed with joy. I then came to know that the Master is in good health for I recollected his sayings which I quote now. 'Whenever and wherever I hear the glad tidings of the Cause my physical health is bettered and ameliorated.' I therefore tell you that the Master is feeling very well and is happy. Convey this happy news to the Indian believers. I do hope that this will double their courage, their firmness, and their zeal in spreading the Cause."

Shoghi Effendi also played a dominant role in the activities of the Bahá'í students studying in Beirut, through which passed so many of the pilgrims from Persia and the Far East on their way to and from Haifa. He writes, in a letter from Beirut dated May 3,1914: "Going back to our college activities our Bahá'í meetings, which I have spoken to you about, are reorganized and only today we are sending letters, enclosing glad tidings of the Holy Land, to the Bahá'í Assemblies in various countries."

The war years, during most of which Shoghi Effendi was studying to obtain his Bachelor of Arts degree at the American University, must have often cast a deep shadow of anxiety on him, in spite of his naturally buoyant and joyous nature. They were years of ever-increasing

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danger for his beloved grandfather, years of dire starvation for much of the population, of privations shared by all, including his own family.

It was in 1918 that Shoghi Effendi received his Bachelor of Arts degree. In a letter to a friend in England dated November l9th of that year, he wrote: "I am so glad and privileged to be able to attend to my Beloved's services after completing my course of Arts and Sciences in the American University at Beirut. I am so anxious and expectant to hear from you and of your services to the Cause for by transmitting them to the Beloved I shall make him happy, glad and strong. The past four years have been years of untold calamity, of unprecedented oppression, of indescribable misery, of severe famine and distress, of unparalleled bloodshed and strife, but now that the dove of peace has returned to its nest and abode a golden opportunity has arisen for the promulgation of the Word of God. This will be now promoted and the Message delivered in this liberated region without the least amount of restriction. This is indeed the Era of Service. " Nothing could be more revealing of the character of the future Guardian than these lines, in which his devotion to the work of the Master, his consuming longing to make Him happy and well, his concise summary of where his own life now stands in relation to this service, his analysis of what the war's end signifies for the immediate future of Bahá'í work are all clearly shown. His nascent rhetorical style, still hampered by an imperfect command of the English language, but already showing the bare bones of its future greatness is reflected in passages such as this: "the friends ... are all ... Iarge and small, old and young, healthy and sick, at home and abroad, glad of the events that have recently transpired; they are all one soul in different bodies, united, agreed, serving and aiming to serve the oneness of humanity."

Shoghi Effendi was now twenty-one years old. His personal relationship to 'Abdu'l-Bahá was made clear in some of these early letters, for the most part written in 1919, in which he refers to "my grandfather, 'Abdu'l-Bahá" and signs himself "Shoghi Rabbani (grandson of 'Abdu'l-Bahá)". One must remember that in the immediate months after the war ended, when contact was being reestablished between the Master and the believers in so many countries which had been cut off from Him during the long years of hostilities, it was highly desirable that Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike should know who this "Shoghi Rabbani" was who was now acting as the Master's secretary and right-hand man. The Star of the

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West, in its issue of September 27, 1919, published a full length photograph of Shoghi Effendi, entitled, "Shoghi Rabbani, Grandson of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" and states he is the translator of recent Tablets and his Diary Letters begin in this issue. Personally I believe, knowing from experience how completely Shoghi Effendi directed even minutiae at the World Centre, that it is probable the Master Himself directed him to make clear their family relationship.

The work of 'Abdu'l-Bahá increased from day to day as floods of letters, reports, and eventually pilgrims poured into Haifa. This is reflected in Shoghi Effendi's personal letters to various Bahá'í friends: "... this interruption of correspondence with you on my part has been solely due to a great pressure of work in connection with the dictation and translation of Tablets ... The whole afternoon has been spent in translating for him only the contents of a part of the supplications from London." He ends up by saying, "I enclose, out of my Bahá'í and particular affection for you, two photographs..."; "My head is in a whirl, so busy and so eventful was the day. No less than a score of callers from prince and pasha to a simple private soldier have sought interview with 'Abdu'l-Bahá."; "The Beloved from morn till eve, even at midnight is engaged in revealing Tablets, in sending forth his constructive, dynamic thoughts of love and principles to a sad and disillusioned world. "; "As I am writing these lines, I am again moved to present myself in his presence and take down his words in response to the recently arrived supplications. " Every word reflects the boundless energy, devotion and enthusiasm of this princeling standing at the side of the old king, serving and supporting Him with all the vitality of his youth and the singular eagerness of his nature.

Shoghi Effendi frequently accompanied the Master to the steadily increasing number of of ficial functions to which He was invited. This included visits to the British Military Governor of Haifa and interviews with the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Edmund Allenby, the General who had led the Allied forces in Palestine and who later became Lord Allenby and was largely responsible for 'Abdu'lBahá'í receiving a knighthood from the British Government. Shoghi Effendi wrote: "This was the second time 'Abdu'l-Bahá had called on the General and this time the conversation centred around the Cause and its progress ... He is a very gentle, modesr and striking figure, warm in affection, yet imposing in his manner." In these circles the grandson of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was now becoming known. An official letter, from the Military Governor to 'Abdu'l-Bahá

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says: "Your Eminence: I have today received from your grandson the sum of..." This was in response to Shoghi Effendi's having called upon him with a further contribution from the Master to the "Haifa Relief Fund". Shoghi Effendi also spent much time with the pilgrims, not only in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, during which he eagerly obtained detailed information from them about the progress of Bahá'í activities in various countries.

Wherever 'Abdu'l-Bahá went, as often as possible the beloved grandson went with Him. This constant companionship, which lasted for about two years, must have been a deep satisfaction to them both and have exerted a profound and decisive influence on Shoghi Effendi. During these years, when the star of 'Abdu'lBahá'í fame was rising locally, as well as internationally, Shoghi Effendi had the opportunity of observing how the Master dealt with high officials and the numerous men of distinction drawn to one Whom many regarded as little less than an oriental prophet and the greatest religious figure in Asia, as well as how the Master conducted Himself in the face of the ever-present envy and intrigue of His enemies and ill-wishers. The lessons learned were to be reflected in the thirty-six years of Shoghi Effendi's own ministry to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.

The decision of Shoghi Effendi to leave 'Abdu'l-Bahá, after less than two years spent constantly in His service, and at a time when the Master's vast post-war correspondence was steadily increasing, was based on a number of factors: if he intended to pursue his studies the sooner he did so the better; 'Abdu'l-Bahá now had a number of people acting as His secretaries; Shoghi Effendi's eldest cousin had finished his studies in Beirut and was now at home; the Master's own condition and plans were propitious.

Very few of us, least of all when we are twenty-three years old, imagine our loved ones dying. So it is not surprising that Shoghi Effendi should have left 'Abdu'l-Bahá, some time in the spring of 1920, with a tranquil conscience, fully believing he would return to His side better equipped to serve Him.

Oxford and Cambridge are still words to conjure with; in 1920 they shone in even more splendid academic isolation than they do in these days when universities and university education have become more prevalent. Balliol, to which Shoghi Effendi was admitted, had a very high standing, being one of Oxford's oldest colleges. I was conducted, years later, by the Guardian, to see the streets he had passed through, the Bodleian Library, the placid river in its

Page 12

greensward surroundings beyond the wrought iron gates, to thousand-year-old Christ Church with its vast kitchen and fairy web of Gothic arches, to Magdalen and its beauties and to the peaceful quad inside the walls of Balliol, which Shoghi Effendi crossed to his studies, to the dining hall where he ate, and to gaze on the narrow entrance that led to the room he had once lived in as a student.

The Guardian's own idea of why he was at Oxford was quite clear; fortunately we have an expression of this in a letter he wrote to an oriental believer on October 18, 1920: "My dear spiritual friend ... God be praised, I am in good health and full of hope and trying to the best of my ability to equip myself for those things I shall require in my future service to the Cause. My hope is that I may speedily acquire the best that this country and this society have to offer and then return to my home and recast the truths of the Faith in a new form, and thus serve the Holy Threshold." There is no doubt he was referring to his future translation of the teachings into the perfect English for which he laid the foundation during his sojourn in England.

From his Beirut days until practically the end of his life Shoghi Effendi had the habit of writing vocabularies and typical English phrases in notebooks. Hundreds of words and sentences have been recorded and these clearly indicate the years of careful study he put into mastering a language he loved and revelled in. For him there was no second to English. He was a great reader of the King James version of the Bible, and of the historians Carlyle and Gibbon, whose styles he greatly admired, particularly that of Gibbon whose Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Shoghi Effendi was so fond of that I never remember his not having a volume of it near him in his room and usually with him when he travelled.

Page 13

The address of Major Tudor Pole, in London, was often used as the distributing point for cables and letters to the Baha'is. Shoghi Effendi himself, whenever he went up to London, usually called there. On November 29, 1921, at 9:30 in the morning the following cable reached that office:

Cyclometry London His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Bahá ascended Abha

Kingdom. Inform friends.
Greatest Holy Leaf

In notes he made of this terrible event and its immediate repercussions Tudor Pole records that he immediately notified thc friends by wire, telephone and letter. I believe he must have telephoned Shoghi Effendi, asking him to come at once to his office, but not conveying to him at that distance a piece of news which he well knew might prove too much of a shock. However this may be, at about noon Shoghi Effendi reached London, went to 61 St. James' Street (off Piccadilly and not far from Buckingham Palace) and was shown into the private office. Tudor Pole was not in the room at the moment but as Shoghi Effendi stood there his eye was caught by the name of 'Abdu'l-Bahá on the open cablegram Iying on the desk and he read it. When Tudor Pole entered the room a moment later he found Shoghi Effendi in a state of collapse, dazed and bewildered by this catastrophic news. He was taken to the home of Miss Grand, one of the London believers, and put to bed there for a few days. Owing to passport difficulties Shoghi Effendi cabled Haifa he could not arrive until the end of the month. He sailed from England on December 16th, accompanied by Lady Blomfield and

Page 14

Rouhangeze, and arrived in Haifa by train at 5:20 p.m. on December 29th, from Egypt where his boat from England had docked. Many friends went to the station to bring him home; it is reported he was so overcome on his arrival that he had to be assisted up the steps. Awaiting him in the house was the only person who could in any measure assuage his suffering -- his beloved great-aunt, the sister of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. She had already -- so frail, so quiet, so modest at all times -- shown herself in these past weeks to be a strong rock to which the believers clung in the midst of the tempest that had so suddenly burst upon them. The calibre of her soul, her breeding, her station, fitted her for the role she played in the Cause and in Shoghi Effendi's life during this extremely difficult and dangerous period.

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá so unexpectedly and quietly passed away, after no serious illness, the distracted members of His family searched His papers to see if by chance He had left any instructions as to where He should be buried. Finding none they entombed Him in the centre of the three rooms adjacent to the inner Shrine of the Báb. They discovered His Will -- which consists of three Wills written at different times and forming one document -- addressed to Shoghi Effendi. It now became the painful duty of Shoghi Effendi to hear what was in it; a few days after his arrival they read it to him.

There is no doubt that the Greatest Holy Leaf, and probably a selected few of the Master's family knew, before Shoghi Effendi reached Haifa, the gist at least of what was in the Will because it had been examined to see if He had made any provisions for His own burial. That this is so is borne out by cables sent to the Persian and to the American believers, by the Greatest Holy Leaf, on December 21,1921. The one to America read as follows: "Memorial meeting world over January seven. Procure prayers for unity and steadfastness. Master left full instructions in His Will and Testament. Translation will be sent. Inform friends. " But the provisions of the Will were not made known until it was first read to Shoghi Effendi and, indeed, until it was officially read on January 3,1922.

It was befitting that the Greatest Holy Leaf, and not Shoghi Effendi himself, should announce to the Bahá'í world the provisions of the Master's Will. On January 7th she sent two cables to Persia as follows: "Memorial meetings all over the world have been held. The Lord of all the worlds in His Will and Testament has revealed His instructions. Copy will be sent. Inform believers." and "Will and Testament forwarded Shoghi Effendi Centre Cause." On

Page 15

January 16th she cabled: "In Will Shoghi Effendi appointed Guardian of Cause and Head of House of Justice. Inform American friends. " In spite of the fact that from the very beginning Shoghi Effendi exhibited both a tactful and masterful hand in dealing with the problems that continually faced him, he leaned very heavily on the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose character, station and love for him made her at once his support and his refuge.

Immediately after these events Shoghi Effendi selected eight passages from the Will and circulated them among the Baha'is; only one of these referred to himself, was very brief and was quoted as follows: "O ye the faithful loved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá! It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi ... For he is, after 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the guardian of the Cause of God, the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him." Of all the thundering and tremendous passages in the Will referring to himself, Shoghi Effendi chose the least astounding and provocative to first circulate among the Baha'is. Guided and guiding he was from the very beginning.

These early years of his Guardianship must be seen as a continual process of being floored and rising to his feet again, often staggering from the terrible blows he had received, but game to the core. It was his love for 'Abdu'l-Bahá that always carried him through: "yet I believe," he cries out, "and firmly believe in His power, His guidance, His ever-living presence..." In a letter written in February 1922, to Nayyir Afnan, a nephew of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the agony of his soul is clearly reflected: "Your ... Letter reached me in the very midst of my sorrows, my cares and afflictions ... the pain, nay the anguish of His bereavement is so overwhelming, the burden of responsibility He has placed on my feeble and my youthful shoulders is so overwhelming..." He goes on to say: "I am enclosing for you personally the copy of the dear Master's Testament, you will read it and see what He had undergone at the hands of His kindred ... you will also see what a great responsibility He has placed on me which nothing short of the creative power of His word can help me to face..." This letter is not only indicative of his feelings but in view of the fact that the one he wrote it to belonged to those who had been the enemies of the Master in the days after Bahá'u'lláh's ascension and were of that breed of kindred He had so strongly denounced in His Will, shows how courageously Shoghi Effendi holds up the mirror of the past and at the same time

Page 16

appeals for his support and loyalty in the new situation which exists.

His earliest letters reveal Shoghi Effendi's characteristic strength, wisdom and dignity. To one of the professors of the American University in Beirut he wrote, on March 19,1922, clearly and unequivocally stating his own position: "Replying to your question as to whether I have been officially designated to represent the Bahá'í Community: 'Abdu'l-Bahá in his testament has appointed me to be the head of the universal council which is to be duly elected by national councils representative of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in different countries..."

It must not be thought, however, that the act of promulgating the Master's Will solved all problems and ushered in a new era in the Cause with the greatest of ease. Far from it. Before Shoghi Effendi reached Haifa the Greatest Holy Leaf had been obliged to cable America on December 14th: "Now is period of great tests. The friends should be firm and united in defending the Cause. Nakeseens [Covenant-breakers] starting activities through press other channels all over world. Select committee of wise cool heads to handle press propaganda in America."

One of the oldest and most staunch of the American believers wrote

to Shoghi Effendi on January 18,1922, less than two weeks after the

public announcement of the provisions of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í Will: "As

you know we are having great troubles and sorrows with violators

in the Cause in America. This poison has penetrated deeply among

the friends..." In many reports, in great detail, accusations

and facts poured in upon the newly-made Guardian. There was, of

course, another aspect. With touching pure-heartedness and trust

the Bahá'ís of East and West rallied round their young leader and

poured out avowals of their love and loyalty: "We long to assist

the Guardian in every way and our hearts are responsive to the

burdens upon his young shoulders..."; "Word has reached us here

in Washington that our beloved Master has placed the guidance and

protection of the Holy Cause in your hands and that He named you

as the head of the House of Justice. I write you these few lines

responding with all my heart to the sacred instructions of our

Beloved Lord and assuring all the support and fidelity of which I

am capable..."; "Beloved of our beloved," he was addressed by

two pillars of the Faith in America, "how our hearts sang with joy

at the news that the Master had not left us comfortless but had

made you, His beloved, the centre of the unity of His Cause, so

that the hearts of all the friends may find peace and

Page 17

"Our lives have been in utter darkness until the blessed cablegram

of the Greatest Holy Leaf arrived with the first ray o r light, and

that is your appointment by the Merciful Lord as our Guardian and

our Head as well as the Guardian of the Cause of God and the Head

of the House of Justice."; "Whatever the Guardian of the Cause

wishes or advises these servants to do, that is likewise our desire

and intention."

On January 16th the Guardian wrote his first letter to the

Persian Baha'is, encouraging them to remain steadfast and protect

the Faith and sharing with them in moving terms his grief at the

passing of the beloved Master. On January 22nd Shoghi Effendi

cabled the American Baha'is: "Holy Leaves comforted by Americans'

unswerving loyalty and noble resolve. Day of steadfastness. Accept

my loving cooperation." The day before he had written his first

letter to them, beginning: "At this early hour when the morning

light is just breaking upon the Holy Land, whilst the gloom of the

dear Master's bereavement is still hanging thick upon the hearts,

I feel as if my soul turns in yearning love and full of hope to

that great company of His loved ones across the seas..." Already

he has placed his hand on the tiller and sees the channels he must

navigate clearly before him: "the broad and straight path of

teaching", as he phrased it, unity, selflessness, detachment,

prudence, caution, earnest endeavour to carry out the Master's

wishes, awareness of His presence, shunning of the enemies of the

Cause -- these must be the goal and animation of the believers. Four

days later he is writing his first letter to the Japanese Baha'is:

"Despondent and sorrowful though I be in these darksome days, yet

whenever I call to mind the hopes our departed Master so

confidently reposed in the friends in that Far-Eastern land, hope

revives within me and drives away the gloom of His bereavement. As

His attendant and secretary for well nigh two years after the

termination of the Great War, I recall so vividly the radiant joy

that transfigured His face whenever I opened before Him your


While Shoghi Effendi was thus occupied and was gathering his powers

and beginning to write letters such as these to the Bahá'ís in

different countries, he received the following letter from the High

Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, dated January 24,

Dear Mr. Rabbani,

I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of Jan. 16, and

Page 18
thank you for the kind expression it contains.

It would be unfortunate if the ever to be lamented death of Sir

'Abdu'l-Bahá were to interfere with the completion of your Oxford

career, and I hope that may not be the case.

I am much interested to learn of the measures that have been taken

to provide for the stable organization of the Bahá'í Movement.

Should you be at any time in Jerusalem it would be a pleasure to

me to see you here.
Yours sincerely,
Herbert Samuel

However friendly its tone, it demanded on the part of His

Majesty's Government to be informed of what was going on. And this

is not the least surprising in view of the activities of Muhammad

'Ali. Shortly after 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í ascension, this disgruntled and

perfidious half-brother had filed a claim, based on Islamic law (he

who pretended he had still a right to be the successor of

Bahá'u'lláh!) for a portion of the estate of 'Abdu'l-Bahá which he

now claimed a right to as His brother. He had sent for his son, who

had been living in America and agitating his father's claims there,

to join him in this new and direct attack on the Master and His

family. Not content with this exhibition of his true nature he

applied to the civil authorities to turn over the custodianship of

Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine to him on the grounds that he was 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í lawful successor. The British authorities refused on the

grounds that it appeared to be a religious issue; he then appealed

to the Muslim religious head and asked the Mufti of 'Akka to take

formal charge of Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine; this dignitary, however,

said he did not see how he could do this as the Bahá'í teachings

were not in conformity with Shari'ah law. All other avenues having

failed he sent his younger brother, Badi'u'llah, with some of their

supporters, to visit the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh where, on Tuesday,

January 30th, they forcibly seized the keys of the Holy Tomb from

the Bahá'í caretaker, thus asserting Muhammad 'Ali's right to be

the lawful custodian of his father's resting-place. This

unprincipled act created such a commotion in the Bahá'í Community

that the Governor of 'Akka ordered the keys to be handed over to

the authorities, posted guards at the Shrine, but went no further,

refusing to return the keys to either party.
Page 19

It does not require much imagination to conceive this was another

terrible shock to Shoghi Effendi, the news arriving after dark, by

a panting and excited messenger, all the believers aroused and

distressed beyond words at the thought that for the first time in

decades the Most Sacred Remains had fallen into the hands of the

inveterate enemy of the Centre of His Covenant.

The situation in which Shoghi Effendi now found himself was truly

crushing. Although the body of the believers was loyal, the Cause

was being attacked from all sides by enemies emboldened by and

rejoicing over the death of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

The strain of this was more than he could bear. He appointed a body

of nine people to act tentatively as an Assembly and we find that

on April 7,1922, this body enters in its records that a letter has

been received from the Greatest Holy Leaf in which she states that

"the Guardian of the Cause of God, the Chosen Branch, the Leader

of the people of Baha, Shoghi Effendi, under the weight of sorrows

and boundless grief, has been forced to leave here for a while in

order to rest and recuperate, and then return to the Holy Land to

render his services and discharge his responsibilities." She goes

on to say that in accordance with his letter, which she encloses,

he has appointed her to administer, in consultation with the family

of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and a chosen Assembly, all Bahá'í affairs during

his absence. Shoghi Effendi had already left Haifa for Europe, on

April 5th, accompanied by his eldest cousin.

On April 8th the Greatest Holy Leaf wrote a general letter to the

friends. She first acknowledges the letters of allegiance they have

sent and says Shoghi Effendi is counting upon their co-operation

in spreading the Message; the Bahá'í world must from now on be

linked through the Spiritual Assemblies and local questions must

be referred to them. She then goes on to say: "Since the ascension

of our Beloved 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi has been moved so

deeply ... that he has sought the necessary quiet in which to

meditate upon the vast task ahead of him, and it is to accomplish

this that

he has temporarily left these regions. During his absence he has


me as his representative, and while he is occupied in


great endeavour, the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá is assured that you

will all strive to advance triumphantly the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh..." The typewritten letter in English is signed in Persian

"Baha'iyyih" and sealed with her seal.

It all looked very calm on paper but behind it was a raging storm

in the heart and mind of Shoghi Effendi. "He has gone", the

Greatest Holy Leaf wrote, "on a trip to various countries". He left

with his cousin and went to Germany to consult doctors. I remember

he told me they found he had almost no reflexes, which they

considered very serious . In the wilderness, however, he found for

himself a partial healing, as so many others had found before him.

Some years later, in 1926, to Hippolyte Dreyfus, who had known him

from childhood and whom he evidently felt he could be open with as

an intimate friend, he wrote that his letter had reached him "on

my way to the Bernese Oberland which has become my second home. In

the fastnesses and recesses of its alluring mountains I shall try

to forget the atrocious vexations which have afflicted me for so

long ... It is a matter which I greatly deplore, that in my

present state of health, I feel the least inclined to, and even

incapable of, any serious discussion on these vital problems with

which I am confronted and with which you are already familiar. The

atmosphere in Haifa is intolerable and a radical change is

impracticable. The transference of my work to any other centre is

unthinkable, undesirable and in the opinion of many justly scandalous

... I cannot express myself more adequately than I have for

my memory has greatly suffered."

In the early years after 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing, although Shoghi

Effendi often travelled about Europe with the restless interest of

not only a young man but a man haunted by the ever-present, towering

giants of his work and his responsibility, he returned again

and again to those wild, high mountains and their lofty solitude.

In spite of his withdrawal -- for that is really what this first

absence from the Holy Land amounted to -- the forces Shoghi Effendi

had set in motion were bearing fruit. One of the returning pilgrims

informed the American Bahá'í Convention, held in April 1922, that:

"our visit was at the summons of Shoghi Effendi. At Haifa we met

Bahá'ís from Persia, India, Burma, Egypt, Italy, England and France

... On arrival the impression that came strongly over me was that

God is in His Heaven and all is well with the world ... We met

Shoghi Effendi, dressed entirely in black, a touching figure. Think

of what he stands for today! All the complex problems of the great

statesmen of the world are as child's play in comparison with the

great problems of this youth, before whom are the problems of the

entire world ... No one can form any conception of his

difficulties, which are overwhelming ... the Master is not gone.

His Spirit is present with greater intensity and power ... In the

center of this radiation stands this youth, Shoghi Effendi.

Page 21

The Spirit streams forth from this young man. He is indeed young

in face, form and manner, yet his heart is the center of the world

today. The character and spirit divine scintillate from him today.

He alone can ... save the world and make true civilization. So

humble, meek, selfless is he that it is touching to see him. His

letters are a marvel. It is the great wisdom of God in granting us

the countenance of this great central point of guidance to meet

difficult problems. These problems, much like ours, come to him

from all parts of the world. They are met and solved by him in the

most informal way ... The great principles laid down by

Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá now have their foundation in the

external world of God's Kingdom on earth. This foundation is being

laid, sure and certain, by Shoghi Effendi in Haifa today."

Being by nature very methodical Shoghi Effendi in these early

years kept fairly complete records and copies of letters sent; he

lists 67 centres that he wrote to, East and West, during the months

he was in the Holy Land in 1922. From December 16,1922, to February

23,1923 he records 132 places he wrote to, some more than once. In

a letter dated December 16,1922 he wrote: "... I shall now

eagerly await the joyful tidings of the progress of the Cause and

the extension of your activities and will spare no effort in

sharing with the faithful, here and in other lands, the welcome

news of the progressive march of the Cause." The correspondence of

this period covers 21 countries and 67 cities, but he does not seem

to have written to more than a score of individuals, many of whom

were not Baha'is. The countries he corresponded with at the very

outset of his ministry included Persia, Britain, France, Germany,

Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Canada, Australia,

Pacific Islands, Japan, India, Burma, Caucasus, Turkistan, Turkey,

Syria, Mesopotamia, Palestine and Egypt.

In his first letter to the newly-elected National Assembly of

America he writes, on December 23rd, that: "To have been unable,

owing to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, to correspond

with you ever since you entered upon your manifold and arduous

duties is to me a cause of deep regret and sad surprise." These are

the words of a man coming up from the depths of nightmare and

reflect how deep had been the abyss of affliction into which he had

fallen during the past year of his life. "I am however", he goes

on to say, "assured and sustained by the conviction, never dimmed

in my mind, that whatever comes to pass in the Cause of God,

however disquieting in its immediate effects, is fraught with

Page 22

infinite Wisdom and tends ultimately to promote its interests in

the world."

In these early letters he invites the Assemblies to write to him,

and he asks them to inform him of their "needs, wants and desires,

their plans and their activities", so that he may "through my

prayers and brotherly assistance contribute, however meagrely, to

the success of their glorious mission in this world." He is deeply

grateful for the manner in which "my humble suggestions" have been

carried out, and assures the friends of his "never-failing

brotherly assistance."

"I am now", Shoghi Effendi wrote to Tudor Pole in 1923, "fully

restored to health and am intensely occupied with my work at present."

Correspondence, however, was far from being his only activity;

he was also "engaged in the service of the various pilgrims

that visit in these days this sacred Spot." It was customary for

him, in these early days of his ministry, to hold regular meetings

in the home of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In December 1922, five days after his

return, he writes: "I have shared fully your news with those loving

pilgrims and resident friends in the Holy Land whom I meet

regularly in what was the audience chamber of the Master."

These might be described as the more pleasant phases of his work

in the discharge of his high office, though they exacted from him

a great deal of time and energy. But what really burdened him

beyond all endurance were the activities of the Covenant-breakers.

It was, in Shoghi Effendi's own words, "amidst the heat and dust

which the attacks launched by a sleepless enemy precipitated" that

he had to carry on his work.

The position of the Faith necessitated the cultivation of careful

relations with the Mandatory authorities. 'Abdu'l-Bahá had been

well known and highly esteemed, though it is unlikely that anyone

in Palestine had the faintest inkling of the vast implications of

the "Movement", as it was so often referred to in the early days,

of which they accepted Him as Head. On December 19,1922 Shoghi

Effendi had wired to the High Commissioner for Palestine in

Jerusalem: "Pray accept my best wishes and kind regards on my return

to Holy Land and resumption of my official duties." As there

must have been a considerable buzz of gossip, ardently fed no doubt

by the Covenant-breakers, about his eight months' withdrawal, this

was a carefully calculated move on Shoghi Effendi's part as well

as an act of courtesy.

The matter which concerned Shoghi Effendi most, however, was

Page 23

the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji. The keys of the inner Tomb were

still held by the authorities; the right of access to other parts

of the Shrine was accorded Bahá'ís and Covenant-breakers alike; the

Bahá'í custodian looked after it as before, and any decision seemed

in a state of abeyance. Shoghi Effendi never rested until, through

representations he made to the authorities, backed by insistent

pressure from Bahá'ís all over the world, he succeeded in getting

the custody of the Holy Tomb back into his own hands. On February

7, 1923, he wrote to Tudor Pole: "I have had a long talk with Col.

Symes and have fully explained to him the exact state of affairs,

the unmistakable and overwhelming voice of all the Bahá'í Community

and their unshakeable determination to stand by the Will and

Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Recently he sent a message to Muhammad

'Ali requiring from him the sum of �108 for the expenses of the

policeman, contending that he being the aggressor is liable to this

expense. So far he has not complied with this request and I await

future developments with great anxiety."

The following day Shoghi Effendi received this telegram from his

cousin, who was in Jerusalem:
His Eminence Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, Haifa.

Letter received immediate steps taken the final decision by


High Commissioner is in our favour the key is yours.

The letter referred to was one written by Sir Gilbert Clayton,

Chief Secretary of the Palestine Administration, to the High Commissioner.

Shoghi Effendi, in another letter to Tudor Pole, informed

him that he was on very warm terms with the Governor of

Haifa, Col. G. Stewart Symes and had met Sir Gilbert; it was no

doubt due to these contacts that the authorities decided in favour

of the Guardian and the key was officially returned to the

legitimate Bahá'í keeper of the Shrine, from whom it had been

wrested by force over a year before.

Though the safety of the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world was now assured

once and for all time, the house Bahá'u'lláh had occupied in Bagdad

was still in the hands of the Shi'ah enemies of the Faith, and

continues to be so until the present day; the battle to get it back

into Bahá'í custody was to worry and to exercise Shoghi Effendi for

many years.

Every time one goes into the details of any particular period in

the Guardian's life one is tempted to say, "this was the worst

Page 24

period", so fraught with strain, problems, unbearable pressures was

his entire ministry. But there is a pattern, there are themes,

higher and lower points were reached. The pattern of 1922,1923 and

1924 reveals itself, insofar as his personal life is concerned, as

an heroic attempt to come to grips with this leviathan -- the Cause

of God -- he had been commanded to bestride.

With the passing of 1923 one could almost say that the winged

Guardian emerged from the chrysalis of youth, a new being; the

wings may not yet be fully stretched, but their beat gains steadily

in sweep and assurance as the years go by until, in the end, they

truly cast a shadow over all mankind. In his early writings one

sees this mastery unfolding, in style, in thought, in power. Let

us pick certain facts and quotations at random and see how clearly

they substantiate this evolution that was taking place. From the

very beginning he turned to the believers, with that inimitable

trusting and confiding touch that won all hearts, and asked them

to pray for him, that he might, in collaboration with them, achieve

the "speedy triumph of the Cause of God" in every land. His

questions are challenging, his thoughts incisive: "Are we to be

carried away by the flood of hollow and conflicting ideas, or are

we to stand, unsubdued and unblemished, upon the everlasting rock

of God's Divine Instructions?"; "... are we to believe that

whatever befalls us is divinely ordained, and in no wise the result

of our faint-heartedness and negligence?" Already in 1923 he sees

the world and the Cause as two distinct things, not to be mixed up

in our minds into one sentimental and haphazard lump. The Will of

God he asserts is "at variance with the shadowy views, the impotent

doctrines, the crude theories, the idle imaginings, the fashionable

conceptions of a transient and troublous age."

Shoghi Effendi's interest in the Pacific and his awareness of the

future development of the Cause in that area is manifested in the

first years of his Guardianship. He wrote to the Pacific Islands,

in delightfully romantic terms, in January 1923, that "their very

names evoke within us so high a sense of hope and admiration that

the passing of time and the vicissitudes of life can never weaken

or remove", and addressed a letter in January 1924 "To the dearly-

beloved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá throughout Australia, New Zealand,

Tasmania, and the adjoining islands of the Pacific. Friends and

heralds of the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh! A fresh breeze laden with

the perfume of your love and devotion to our beloved Cause was

wafted again from your distant Southern shores to the Holy

Page 25

Land and has served to remind us one and all of that unquenchable

spirit of service and self-sacrifice which the passing of our

Beloved has in these days kindled in almost every corner of the


The words he wrote to one of the American Assemblies in December

1923 sound almost like a soliloquy: "The inscrutable wisdom of God

has so decreed that we, who are the chosen bearers of the world's

greatest Message to suffering humanity, should toil and promote our

work under the most trying conditions of life, amidst unhelpful

surroundings, and in the face of unprecedented trials, and without

means, influence or support, achieve, steadily and surely, the

conquest and regeneration of human hearts." Many of these early

letters to various Spiritual Assemblies have this quality, not of

disquisition, but of voicing his own innermost considerations. That

same month he wrote: "... True, the progress of our work, when

compared to the sensational rise and development of an earthly

cause, has been painful and slow, yet we firmly believe and shall

never doubt that the great spiritual Revolution which the Almighty

is causing to be accomplished, through us, in the hearts of men is

destined to achieve, steadily and surely, the complete regeneration

of all mankind. "; "However great our tribulation may be, however

unexpected the miseries of life, let us bear in mind the life He

[the Master] has led before us, and, inspired and grateful, let us

bear our burden with steadfastness and fortitude, that in the world

to come, in the divine Presence of our loving Comforter, we may receive

His true consolation and reward of our labours . "; "Whatever

may befall us, and however dark the Prospect of the future may appear,

if we but play our part we may rest confident that the Hand

of the Unseen is at work, shaping and moulding the events and circumstances

of the world and paving the way for the ultimate realization

of our aims and hopes for mankind. "; "Our primary duty is

to create by our words and deeds, our conduct and example, the atmosphere

in which the seeds of the words of Bahá'u'lláh and

'Abdu'l-Bahá cast so profusely during well-nigh eighty years, may

germinate and give forth those fruits that alone can assure peace

and prosperity to this distracted world. "; "... Let us arise

to teach His Cause with righteousness, conviction, understanding

and vigour ... Let us make it the dominating passion of our life.

Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth, sacrifice

our personal interests, comforts, tastes and pleasures, mingle with

the divers kindreds and peoples of the world; familiarize ourselves

with their manners, traditions, thoughts and customs". The tone of

some of
Page 26

these sounds like his great messages during the prosecution of the

Divine Plan, but they were written in the winter of 1923-1924. He

had set himself the task of seeing that the Faith emerged into "the

broad daylight of universal recognition", a term he used that same


Steeped in the Teachings from his infancy, privileged to hear,

read and write so many of the Master's words during his youth,

Shoghi Effendi firmly guided the friends in East and West along

their destined course. Already in March 1922, in one of his first

letters to the American believers, he had stated: "the friends of

God the world over are strictly forbidden to meddle with political

affairs". He is using the term "pioneer", in his earliest letters,

and in 1925 is keeping a list of Bahá'í centres throughout the


In spite of what he described as the "thorny path of my arduous

duties", in spite of the "oppressive burden of responsibility and

care which it is my lot and privilege to shoulder", he was clear

in expressing and brilliant in understanding the needs of the Cause

and the tasks facing the believers. He was equally clear in

defining what relationship he wished the Bahá'ís to have with him

and in what manner they should regard him. On February 6,1922 he

wrote to one of the Persian Baha'is: "I wish to be known, to

realize myself however far I may proceed in future, as one and only

one of the many workers in His Vineyards ... whatever may betide

I trust in His ['Abdu'l-Bahá's] wondrous love for me. May I in no

wise by my deeds, thoughts or words, impede the stream of His

sustaining Spirit which I sorely need in facing the

responsibilities He has placed on my youthful shoulders..." and

on March 5th he added the following postscript to a letter to the

American friends: "May I also express my heartfelt desire that the

friends of God in every land regard me in no other light but that

of a true brother, united with them in our common servitude to the

Master's Sacred Threshold, and refer to me in their letters and

verbal addresses always as Shoghi Effendi, for I desire to be known

by no other name save the one our Beloved Master was wont to utter,

a name which of all other designations is the most conducive to my

spiritual growth and advancement." In 1924 he cabled India clearly

and succinctly: "My birthday should not be commemorated". In 1930

his secretary wrote on his behalf: "Concerning Shoghi Effendi's

station: he surely has none except what the Master confers upon him

in His Will and that Will also states what Shoghi Effendi's station

is. If anyone misinterprets one part of the Will he misinterprets

all the
Page 27

Will." When Shoghi Effendi wrote the general letter known as The

Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh he made clear, once-for-all, his own

position, disassociating himself categorically from the

prerogatives and station Bahá'u'lláh had conferred upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

"In the light of this truth to pray to the Guardian of the

Faith, to address him as lord and master, to designate him as his

holiness, to seek his benediction, to celebrate his birthday, or

to commemorate any event associated with his life would be

tantamount to a departure from those established truths that are

enshrined within our beloved Faith." In 1945 his secretary wrote

on his behalf: "... he has never gone so far as to forbid the

friends to have pictures of himself in their possession; he merely

would rather they placed the emphasis on the beloved Master."

Page 29

It is time to ask ourselves what manner of man this was who wrote

such things about himself, what impression did he create, how did

he appear to others?

From the diary of one of the American believers whom Shoghi

Effendi called to Haifa, in March 1922, we have the following

description: "... Shoghi Effendi appeared and greeted me most

kindly and affectionately. I had not seen him for eight years, and

of course I was surprised at the change and development in him, for

instead of the boy I had known there was now a man very young in

years but premature in poise and depth of spirit and thought . .

." He goes on to describe his impressions of Shoghi Effendi: "As

I used to sit at table looking at Shoghi Effendi, I was struck by

his resemblance to the Master. In the shape and poise of his head,

his shoulders, his walk and his general bearing. Then I felt the

terrible weight and responsibility which had been placed upon that

young boy. It seemed overwhelming that he, whose life was just

starting, so to speak from the human worldly standpoint, should

have had this great responsibility thrust upon him, a weight which

would so consume him and place him aside by himself as to eliminate

from his life the freedom and joy of the human side of life, which

though not eternal, has a certain call for each of us human


In 1929 an Indian Bahá'í pilgrim wrote of Shoghi Effendi: "We must

understand Shoghi Effendi in order to be able to help him

accomplish the stupendous task he has entrusted to us. He is so

calm and yet so vibrant, so static and yet so dynamic." This is

little short of a brilliant characterization of one aspect of the

Guardian. The impression he created on the first American Baha'i

to be called to Haifa after the second World War, in 1947, reveals

other aspects of his nature: "My first impression is of his warm,

Ioving smile and handclasp, making me feel instantly at ease . .

. In the course of
Page 30

these interviews, I was to become increasingly conscious of his

many great qualities -- his nobility, dignity, fire and enthusiasm --

his ability to run the scale from sparkling humour to deep outrage,

but always, always, putting the Bahá'í Faith ahead of everything

... In his practical, logical manner, Shoghi Effendi made me feel

both a welcome guest and a needed helper, he outlined some of my

duties which started the very next day! His advice, given me on

that initial visit, was to overshadow all my efforts on his behalf;

he said he wanted me to follow his instructions explicitly, if I

was unsuccessful, or ran into difficulties, to report to him

precisely and he would give me a new plan of action ... For the

Bahá'ís working at the International Center, during this period at

least, there was no special day of rest. It was then that one

learned that each moment belonged to the Faith..." She then

tells of those evenings when Shoghi Effendi shared with us at the

dinner table special plans, cables and messages he was sending out

and occasionally precious documents in his possession: "...

Sparkling with excitement and new plans, he would produce messages

and letters from his pockets, oftentimes pushing his dinner plate

away untouched, calling for paper and pencil and thrill us all with

his new ideas and hopes for the Bahá'ís to carry out ... The

beloved Guardian disliked very much to have his picture taken,

therefore any photographs extant do not reflect his true 'image'.

In the first place, the emotions flowed so rapidly over his

features that one would need a series to catch his many moods. It

was a delight to see and hear him laugh ... he seemed to twinkle

like a star when some plan had been successfully brought to a

conclusion. His sense of humour was a joy! He was like a high

mountain, strong, always there, but never conquered, filled with

unexpected heights and depths ... he was extremely thorough and

taught us all a new sense of perfection and attention to detail .

. . he was in close touch with the expenditure of all funds ...

He was enthusiastically concerned with Bahá'í statistics ... We

could never appreciate his grasp of all affairs connected with

activities at the 'grass roots' right up to the World Center . .

. "

Professor Alaine Locke of Howard University in Washington, who

was one of the Bahá'í pilgrims to visit Haifa during the first

years of Shoghi Effendi's Guardianship, describes the impressions

he received as he walked with Shoghi Effendi in the gardens of the

Báb's Shrine: "Shoghi Effendi is a master of detail as well as of

principle, of executive foresight as well as of projective vision.

But I have never heard details so redeemed of their natural

triviality as
Page 31

when talking to him of the plans for the beautifying and laying out

of the terraces and gardens. They were important because they all

were meant to dramatize the emotion of the place and quicken the

soul even through the senses."

Shoghi Effendi continually added to these gardens and their fame

increased steadily. By the end of his life as many as 90,000 people

a year were visiting them and the Shrine of the Báb. What one

visitor wrote to him in 1935 expressed in the simplest terms the

impression such a visit creates on many people; she had been

"deeply impressed by the reticent beauty of the Shrines and by the

happiness of the gardens."

It was his practice each year to enlarge the cultivated area around

the Shrines of the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. No doubt the very first

impulse in this direction came from his ever-conscious desire to

follow in every field the wishes of his departed Master. He knew

'Abdu'l-Bahá had planned a series of terraces from the old German

Colony up to the Báb's Sepulchre; indeed the Master had begun developing

the first terrace. Shoghi Effendi set himself, over the

years, to finish these and in the course of studying this plan he

no doubt evolved a concept of his gardens around the Shrine -- for

gardens they are, not one garden. To understand and appreciate the

extraordinarily beautiful effect Shoghi Effendi has created on Mt.

Carmel and in Bahji one must know his method.

Shoghi Effendi studied the surrounding barren mountain side and

began to develop, piece by piece, year after year, separate sections.

With the exception of the terraces it must be borne in mind

that he never had an over-all plan. This is what gives the gardens

on Mt. Carmel their unique character. As he walked about Shoghi Effendi

would get an idea for a piece of garden that fitted the

topography of the land. With no fuss, no advice and no help except

the unskilled farmers who did duty as gardeners, he would make his

plan for this "piece". If necessary he would have the spot surveyed

and curves or long lines laid out, but very often he dispensed with

this and did it all himself.

It is hard to understand why most people do things so slowly when

Shoghi Effendi did them so fast. Just to twitter faithfully that

he was "guided by God" does not seem to me a sufficient explanation.

I believe great people see things in great dimensions, little

people get tripped up by little details. Shoghi Effendi, being

truly great, having clearly in mind what he wanted to do, saw no

reason why a lot of puny details such as that one usually gave

Page 32

to subordinates and let them go their own pace in carrying them

out -- should prevent him from getting the whole thing done, under

his own eyes, in one operation. He organized it perfectly and it

was accomplished immediately and perfectly; anything he could do

himself was always done this way. The delays and frustrations usually

occurred when he had to refer his work to others.

Shoghi Effendi had a faultless sense of proportion. It is the

combination of this sense of proportion, and an originality

unhampered by tradition or too much information that made his

gardens so unique, so fascinating and beautiful. If he (so he

claimed) lacked the power of visualizing a thing completed, he

possessed to a strong degree the other creative faculty of the true

artist, the capacity to let a thing shape up under his hands, to

receive an inspiration in the middle of a plan and pursue the

soaring course of that inspiration rather than be tied to the

preconceived idea.

Shoghi Effendi -- like the Master before him -- was a great lover of

light. He hated gloomy interiors. This love of bright light was so

pronounced that I used to remonstrate with him for working with a

powerful desk lamp practically shining in his eyes as I was afraid

it was too much for them. His own room was always brilliantly lit,

the Shrines were all full of lights, large and small, and one of

his first acts as Guardian was to have placed over the door of the

Báb's Shrine that faces the terraces and the straight avenue at the

foot of the mountain that leads to the sea, a bright light.

Gradually the gardens in both Haifa and Bahji were all illumined

with beautiful four-branched wrought iron lamp posts, ninety-nine

of them being erected in Bahji alone. When the night came that

these were lighted for the first time, on the occasion of the

Ridvan Feast in 1953, and we approached Bahji by car the sky glowed

as if we were approaching a small city! The Guardian told the

Persian pilgrims that it had always been light, but now it was

"light upon light". (In the original there is a beautiful play of

words alluding to Bahá'u'lláh as light.) In addition to this the

Shrine in Haifa was illuminated at night by flood-lights, as were

the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, and those of the

mother and brother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and high-powered reflectors

were ordered to illumine the International Archives Building.

Shoghi Effendi came to grips with the harsh fact that he was to all

intents and purposes alone and he placed increased reliance on

himself. He set himself to do all the work and did it, using as

secretaries various members of the Master's family, facing an ever-increasing

Page 33

spirit of disaffection on their part, resigning himself

to the unending drudgery of petty tasks as well as major ones,

accepting his fate with resignation, often with despair, always

with loyalty and fortitude. It can truly be said of him that

single-handed he effected the world-wide establishment of the Faith

of his Divine Forefathers and proved that he belonged to that same

sovereign caste.

It was during these years, when Shoghi Effendi WclS trying so

hard to gather about him a group of competent co-workers, that a

crisis of unprecedented dimensions burst upon him. The sea of the

Cause of God, whipped by the winds of both destiny and chance which

blow upon it from the outside world, was now lashed into a storm

whose waves beat remorselessly upon Shoghi Effendi's mind, his

strength, his nerves and his resources. The blessed House occupied

by Bahá'u'lláh in Bagdad, and ordained by Him, in Shoghi Effendi's

words, as a "sacred, sanctified and cherished object of Baha'i

pilgrimage and veneration" had already in the days of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

been seized by the Shi'ahs, after a series of nefarious manoeuvres,

but had been returned by the British authorities to its legitimate

custodians. When news of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing reached the

inveterate enemies of the Faith, they once again renewed their

attack and laid claim to the House; in 1922 the government had

taken over the keys of the House in spite of the assurance of King

Feisal that he would respect the claims of the Bahá'ís to a

building that had been occupied by their representatives ever since

Bahá'u'lláh's departure from Baghdad and who now, for political

reasons, went back on his word; and in 1923, the keys had been most

unjustly delivered again to the Shi'ahs. From shortly after the

passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá until November 1925 there had been a

continuous struggle on the part of the Bahá'ís to protect the Most

Holy House. The Shi'ahs had first taken the case to their own religious

court from which it was speedily lifted out to the Peace

court and then brought before the local Court of First Instance,

which decided in favour of the rights of the Baha'is. This decision

was then taken to the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of 'Iraq,

which gave its verdict in favour of the Shi'ahs.

When the Guardian was informed of this flagrant miscarriage of

justice he immediately mustered the Bahá'í world to take action:

he sent nineteen cables to various individuals and national bodies

comprising the believers in Persia, the Caucasus, Turkistan, 'Iraq,

Japan, Burma, China, Turkey, Moscow, India, Australia, New

Page 34

Zealand, Canada, the United States, Germany, Austria, France, Great

Britain and the Pacific Islands. His instructions were that the

Bahá'ís should cable and write their protest at this decision to

the British High Commissioner in 'Iraq. Persia and North America --

where the Bahá'í communities were numerically strong -- were informed

that in addition to every local Assembly voicing its protest

directly, the National Assembly should not only contact the High

Commissioner, but protest directly to both King Feisal of 'Iraq and

the British authorities in London. The Assembly of India and Burma

was likewise to protest to the King himself, but not to London. In

places where the Bahá'ís were few in number, such as France and

China, Shoghi Effendi advised that the protest should go over the

signature of individuals. All these instructions markedly display

the strategist in Shoghi Effendi. In his cables to the Bahá'í world

he stated the situation was "perilous" and the "consequences of the

utmost gravity"; all must request "prompt action to safeguard

spiritual claims of Bahá'ís to this dearly-beloved Spot", "this

sanctified abode", "Bahá'u'lláh's Sacred House". He put the proper

phrases into the mouths of those he advised, the eastern friends

being told to "fervently and courteously", "in firm considerate

language", earnestly appeal "for consideration of their spiritual

claims to its possession" and to the "British sense of justice",

while the western believers were informed that "effective prompt

action urgently required ... protesting vigorously against

Court's glaring injustice, appealing for redress to British sense

of fairness, asserting spiritual claims of Bahá'ís ... declaring

their unfailing resolve to do their utmost to vindicate their

legitimate and sacred rights. " With his usual thoroughness Shoghi

Effendi advised America that the messages sent by the local

Assemblies "should not be identical in wording."

The exchange, during a six-month period, of well-nigh a hundred

cables, in addition to a continual correspondence with various

agents working to safeguard the Most Holy House, testify in bulk

and substance to Shoghi Effendi's preoccupation with this problem.

One of his first acts, on receiving the news of the decision of the

Supreme Court, was to cable the High Commissioner in Bagdad that:

"The Bahá'ís the world over view with surprise and consternation

the Court's unexpected verdict regarding the ownership of

Bahá'u'lláh's Sacred House. Mindful of their long-standing and

continuous occupation of this property they refuse to believe that

Your Excellency will ever countenance such manifest injustice.

Page 35

They solemnly pledge themselves to stand resolutely for the

protection of their rights. They appeal to the high sense of honour

and justice which they firmly believe animates your Administration.

In the name of the family of Sir 'Abdu'l-Bahá 'Abbas and the whole

Bahá'í Community, Shoghi Rabbani". On the same day he cabled the

heart-broken Keeper of Bahá'u'lláh's House: "Grieve not. Case in

God's hand. Rest assured."

During the ensuing months many cables from Shoghi Effendi

included such phrases as "House case should be strenuously pursued."

He cabled a number of prominent non-Baha'is, and constantly coordinated

the efforts of his lieutenants in different parts of the

world. When over a month had passed Shoghi Effendi cabled various

National Assemblies, instructing them to enquire in "courteous

terms" from the High Commissioner "results of investigation" which

the British authorities had promised to undertake. It was a losing

battle, for the political and religious elements in 'Iraq had

common cause and refused to bow to the pressure brought upon them,

including that of the British Government.

Shoghi Effendi, however, did not accept defeat so lightly and never

rested until the case of the Holy House was brought before the

League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission, in November 1928;

the Mandatory Power had upheld the right of the Bahá'ís to the

possession of the House, and the Mandates Commission recommended

to the Council of the League of Nations that it request the British

Government to make representations to the 'Iraqi Government to

redress the denial of justice to the Bahá'ís in this case. The

Bahá'ís continued to press the matter, from 1928 until 1933, but

to no avail because the instruments for enforcing the decision were

lacking and the power of the Shi'ahs inside 'Iraq was such as to

cause the entire question to be dropped by the 'Iraqi Government,

whenever that decision was pressed upon it.

A brief resume of events such as these conveys none of the day-to-day

suspense that attends them, the fluctuations between hope and

despair, the good news and bad news that alternate with each other

and wear away the heart and strength. The first impact of the

Supreme Court's decision had scarcely been received when Dr.

Esslemont suddenly died. Coming at such a time of crisis the loss

of his friend was a doubly grievous blow to the Guardian.

So heavy was this burden that in February 1926 he wrote to one of

the believers: "I am submerged in a sea of activities, anxieties

and preoccupations. My mind is extremely tired and I feel I am

Page 36

becoming inefficient and slow due to this mental fatigue." This

condition became so acute that he was forced to go away for a brief

rest. "The overwhelming burden of pressing cares and

responsibilities", he wrote towards the end of March, "necessitated

my departure at a time when ... I was most anxious to receive my

friends and coworkers from various parts of the world". He must

have been ill, indeed, to have absented himself from Haifa and his

guests, but whatever his condition in February and March it was

mild compared to that into which he was plunged by a wire from

Persia, sent on April 11th, from Shiraz, which baldly stated:

"Twelve friends in Jahrom martyred agitation may extend elsewhere,"

to which he replied the same day, "Horrified sudden calamity.

Suspend activities. Appeal central authorities. Convey relatives

tenderest sympathy". He also wired that same day to Tihran a

message so significant of the spirit of the Faith that its

conjunction with the events in Jahrum cannot be ignored: "I

earnestly request all believers Persia Turkistan Caucasus

participate whole-heartedly in renewal Spiritual Assemblies

election. No true Bahá'í can stand aside. Results should be

promptly forwarded Holy Land through central Assemblies communicate

immediately with every centre. Proceed cautiously. Imploring Divine

assistance." The following day, having received a more detailed

wire from Shiraz advising that the chief instigator of the

agitation there had been arrested and giving certain suggestions,

Shoghi Effendi telegraphed Tihran: "Grief-stricken Jahrom martyrdom.

Convey His Majesty on behalf all Bahá'ís and myself our profound

appreciation his prompt intervention and our earnest entreaty to

inflict immediate punishment on perpetrators of such atrocious

crime. Urge all Persian Assemblies send similar message." It is a

slight, but significant indication of his mental state, that in the

first cables he spells "Jahrom" phonetically, but later switches

to the transliterated "Jahrum".

What all this meant to Shoghi Effendi is expressed by him in a

letter to one of his co-workers, written on the 24th of April.

After acknowledging receipt of his many letters, he explains that

his delay in answering them has been due to "my unfortunate

illness, amounting almost to a break-down, combined with the

receipt of the most distressing news from Persia reporting the

martyrdom of twelve of our friends in the town of Jahrum, south of

Shiraz. I have wired for full particulars and will communicate them

to the various Bahá'í centres immediately I receive detailed

information. Political considerations and personal rivalries appear

to have played no
Page 37

small part ... I have transmitted a message to the Shah through

the Persian National Spiritual Assembly ... I have also requested

foreign Assemblies to give in an unoffensive language full

publicity to these reports in their respective newspapers, but have

thought it premature for them to get into direct relation with the


Yet in this state Shoghi Effendi managed to do what he thought

could be done: "I feel that with patience, tact, courage and

resource we can utilize this development to further the interests

and extend the influence of the Cause." He had mustered the forces

of the Bahá'í world in defence of the oppressed Persian Community,

ensured that wide publicity in the foreign press be given to these

martyrdoms, and constantly directed various National Assemblies in

the action they should take in this respect as well as in the case

of the Most Holy House.

Such is the tale of one period of the Guardian's life; how many

blows rained on him in a little over six months, at a time when he

was still struggling to get the load that had been placed on his

shoulders at the time of the Master's passing properly balanced so

that he could carry it!
Page 39

Shoghi Effendi used to remark that out of his sufferings something

always seemed to be born. He would go through these ordeals by

fire -- for indeed he seemed to fairly burn with suffering -- and then

some rain from heaven, in the form of good news, would shower upon

him and help to revive him. I am afraid the mystery of sacrifice

still remains a mystery to me, but certainly the Holy Ones of this

world buy their victories dearly.

It was at this time, when affliction was literally engulfing the

Guardian, that, on May 4th, the "Toronto Daily Star" published a

highly appreciative statement made by Queen Marie of Rumania on the

Bahá'í Faith, a statement, followed by others during the course of

her visit to the United States and Canada, which was printed in

about two hundred newspapers and constituted some of the widest and

most spectacular publicity the Faith has ever received. In a

confidential letter written on May 29th the Guardian refers to this

as "this most astonishing and highly significant event in the

progress of the Cause".

The acceptance of Bahá'u'lláh's station by the Rumanian Queen -- the

first crowned head to embrace the Faith -- is a chapter in itself in

the life of Shoghi Effendi and is inextricably bound up with the

services of Martha Root, that "star-servant of the Faith of

Bahá'u'lláh", as Shoghi Effendi called her, and the part she played

in his life -- indeed no account of his life could ever be complete

without mention of the relationship of this noble soul to him. Miss

Martha Root was a journalist by profession and came of a distinguished

American family. She met the Master during His visit to the

United States and, fired by His Tablets of the Divine Plan, arose

in 1919 and commenced her historic travels in the service of the

Cause, not only travelling longer and farther than any single

Bahá'í has ever done since its inception, but often, as the

Guardian said,
Page 40

"in extremely perilous circumstances". It was her great teaching

journeys -- four of which took her entirely round the world combined

with her truly outstanding qualities, that so endeared her to

Shoghi Effendi and led him to call her the "archetype of Baha'i

itinerant teachers". The services of no other believer ever

afforded him the satisfaction that her singular victories brought

him. Of her Shoghi Effendi wrote in October 1926: "In her case we

have verily witnessed in an unmistakable manner what the power of

dauntless faith, when coupled with sublimity of character, can

achieve, what forces it can release, to what heights it can


From the inception of Shoghi Effendi's ministry she not only

turned her great loving heart to him but constantly sought his advice

as to her plans. It would not be exaggerating to say they had

a partnership in all her undertakings, marked by a mutual love and

confidence all too rare in the harassed life of the Guardian. They

kept in close touch, a flow of letters and cables apprising him of

her plans, her needs, her victories, her requests for guidance and

his unfailing answers giving encouragement and advice. We find in

his letters to her, whom he characterized, in 1923, as that

"indomitable and zealous disciple of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", over and over

again phrases such as these, in which he expresses the warmth of

his feelings, that he has read her letters with "pride and

gratitude", that they "have as usual gladdened my heart", that "It

is always a joy to hear from you, beloved Martha." He wrote to her

in July 1926, when she was making so many contacts with the royalty

of Europe: "... write me fully and frequently for I yearn to

hear of your activities and of every detail of your achievements.

Assuring you of my boundless love for you...", and in August he

says, "I hunger for every minute detail of your triumphal advance

in the field of service ... I am enclosing a copy of my letter

to the Queen. Do not share its contents with anyone . " But he had

hastened to share it himself with her who had taught that Queen.

In September he wrote, "I am glad to share with you the contents

of the Queen of Rumania's answer to my letter. I think it is a

remarkable letter, beyond our highest expectations. The change that

has been effected in her, her outspoken manner, her penetrating

testimony and courageous stand are indeed eloquent and convincing

proof of the all-conquering Spirit of God's living Faith and the

magnificent services you are rendering to His Cause."

She turned to him at all times, unhesitatingly making requests of

him which she felt were in the interests of the Faith. The

Page 41

was well aware of both the purity of her motives and her good

judgement and almost invariably acceded to these requests, which

ranged from letters of encouragement to individuals to cabled

messages to figures of great prominence.

On one occasion she cabled the Guardian: "... perhaps you will

think wise send me immediately greetings President Hoover", to

which Shoghi Effendi replied by cable the following day: "Kindly

convey President Hoover on behalf followers Bahá'u'lláh world over

expression their fervent prayers for success his unsparing efforts

in promoting cause of international brotherhood and peace -- a cause

for which they have steadfastly laboured well nigh a century".

Exactly one year before, during a visit to Japan in November 1930,

we find a similar exchange of cables taking place; Martha's said:

"Love beautiful you cable me greetings Emperor", to which Shoghi

Effendi replied, the same day: "Kindly transmit His Imperial

Majesty Emperor Japan on behalf myself and Bahá'ís world over

expression of our deepest love as well as assurance our heartfelt

prayers for his well-being and prosperity his ancient realm." Love

begets love. Martha's great love for Shoghi Effendi called forth

his love and his responses the way the capacity of a diamond to

reflect light captures its rays and casts them back brilliantly.

In March of 1927, Shoghi Effendi wrote to Martha: "... I assure

you, dearest Martha that wherever you be, in Scandinavia, Central

Europe, Russia, Turkey or Persia, my fervent and continued prayers

will accompany you and I trust that you may be protected,

strengthened and guided to fulfil your unique and unprecedented

mission as the exemplary advocate of the Bahá'í Faith."

The years rolled by and Martha Root continued, white haired, frail

and indomitable, her ceaseless journeys, until she was stricken by

"a deadly and painful disease", as Shoghi Effendi wrote, and in

Honolulu on September 28,1939 she passed away. She had been on fire

with pain during the last weeks of a tour of the Antipodes and, on

her way back to America, to assist in the prosecution of the first

Seven Year Plan, she literally dropped in her tracks, yielding up

a life the Guardian said might well be regarded as the fairest

fruit the Formative Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh had yet


I well remember the day the cable conveying the news of her death

reached Shoghi Effendi. He himself was very ill with sand fly

fever, had a high temperature (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and, alas,

Page 42

should never have had to receive such news in such a condition !

But there was no way we could withhold it from him. He was the

Guardian, it was Martha Root who had died. Against the strong

remonstrances of his mother, his brother and myself, he pulled

himself up to a sitting position in his bed, white, terribly weak,

and very shaken by this sudden news, and dictated a cable to

America announcing her death. He said what else could he do -- the

whole Bahá'í world was waiting to hear what he would say. In that

long message he said, amongst other things: "Martha's unnumbered

admirers throughout Bahá'í world lament with me earthly extinction

her heroic life ... Posterity will establish her as foremost Hand

... first Bahá'í Century ... first finest fruit Formative Age

Faith..." He said he was impelled to share the expenses of

building her grave with the American National Assembly, the grave

of one whose "acts shed imperishable lustre American Baha'i


Martha Root was firmly convinced that in her possession was the

most priceless gem the world had ever seen -- the Message of

Bahá'u'lláh. She believed that in showing this gem and offering it

to anyone, king or peasant, she was conferring the greatest bounty

upon him he could ever receive. It was this proud conviction that

enabled her, a woman of no wealth or social prestige, plain,

dowdily dressed and neither a great scholar nor an outstanding

intellectual, to meet more kings, queens, princes and princesses,

presidents and men of distinction, fame and prominence and tell

them about the Bahá'í Faith than any other Bahá'í in the history

of this Cause has ever done.

Martha Root reported to Shoghi Effendi the account of the first of

her eight interviews with Queen Marie of Rumania, which took place

on January 30,1926, in Controceni Palace in Bucharest, at the

request of the Queen herself, after she had received Dr.

Esslemont's book, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, sent to her by

Martha. The Queen had evidently been attracted to the Teachings and

when it was bruited about that she might visit North America,

Shoghi Effendi wrote to the American National Spiritual Assembly

the following instructions, conveyed in the writing of his

secretary, on August 21,1926: "We read in The Times that Queen

Marie of Rumania is coming to America. She seems to have obtained

a great interest in the Cause. So we must be on our guard lest we

do an act which may prejudice her and set her back. Shoghi Effendi

desires, that in case she takes this trip, the friends will behave

with great reserve and wisdom, and that no initiative be taken on

the part
Page 43

of the friends except after consulting the National Assembly."

It was during this visit that Her Majesty, her heart deeply

stirred by the teachings of the Faith which she had been studying,

testified, "in a language of exquisite beauty", as Shoghi Effendi

put it, "to the power and sublimity of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh,

in open letters widely circulated in newspapers of both the United

States and Canada". As a result of the first of these letters

Shoghi Effendi was "moved by an irresistible impulse" to write to

the Queen of the "joyous admiration and gratitude" of himself and

the Bahá'ís of both the East and the West for her noble tribute to

the Faith. On August 27,1926 the Queen responded to this first

communication from the Guardian and wrote to him, what he described

as a "deeply touching letter":
Bran, August 27th, 1926
Dear Sir,
I was deeply moved on reception of your letter.

Indeed a great light came to me with the message of Bahá'u'lláh

and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It came as all great messages come at an hour of

dire grief and inner conflict and distress, so the seed sank


My youngest daughter finds also great strength and comfort in the

teachings of the beloved masters.

We pass on the message from mouth to mouth and all those we give

it to see a light suddenly lighting before them and much that was

obscure and perplexing becomes simple, luminous and full of hope

as never before.

That my open letter was balm to those suffering for the cause, is

indeed a great happiness to me, and I take it as a sign that God

accepted my humble tribute.

The occasion given me to be able to express myself publicly, was

also His Work, for indeed it was a chain of circumstances of which

each link led me unwittingly one step further, till suddenly all

was clear before my eyes and I understood why it had been.

Thus does He lead us finally to our ultimate destiny.

Some of those of my caste wonder at and disapprove my courage to

step forward pronouncing words not habitual for Crowned Heads to

pronounce, but I advance by an inner urge I cannot resist.

With bowed head I recognize that I too am but an instrument in

greater Hands and rejoice in the knowledge.
Page 44

Little by little the veil is lifting, grief tore it in two. And

grief was also a step leading me ever nearer truth, therefore do

I not cry out against grief !

May you and those beneath your guidance be blessed and upheld by

the sacred strength of those gone before you.

Among the things Queen Marie, who was not only a famous beauty,

but an authoress and a woman of character and independence, wrote

in her "open letters" published during 1926, on May 4th and

September 28th, in the Toronto Daily Star and September 27th in the

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, were words such as these: "A woman

brought me the other day a Book. I spell it with a capital letter

because it is a glorious Book of love and goodness, strength and

beauty ... I commend it to you all. If ever the name of

Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá comes to your attention, do not put

their writings from you. Search out their Books, and let their

glorious, peace-bringing, love-creating words and lessons sink into

your hearts as they have into mine. One's busy day may seem too

full for religion. Or one may have a religion that satisfies. But

the teachings of these gentle, wise and kindly men are compatible

with all religion, and with no religion. Seek them, and be the

happier." "At first we all conceive of God as something or somebody

apart from ourselves ... This is not so. We cannot, with our

earthly faculties entirely grasp His meaning -- no more than we can

really understand the meaning of Eternity ... God is all,

Everything. He is the power behind all beginnings. He is the

inexhaustible source of supply, of love, of good, of progress, of

achievement. God is therefore Happiness. His is the voice within

us that shows us good and evil. But mostly we ignore or

misunderstand this voice. Therefore did He choose His Elect to come

down amongst us upon earth to make clear His Word, His real

meaning. Therefore the Prophets; therefore Christ, Muhammad,

Bahá'u'lláh, for man needs from time to time a voice upon earth to

bring God to him, to sharpen the realization of the existence of

the true God. Those voices sent to us had to become flesh, so that

with our earthly ears we should be able to hear and understand."

Shoghi Effendi wrote to Martha Root on May 29th, after he had just

received from Canada a copy of the first of the Queen's "open

letters", that this was "a well deserved and memorable testimony

of your remarkable and exemplary endeavours for the spread of our

Page 45

beloved Cause. It has thrilled me and greatly reinforced my spirit

and strength, yours is a memorable triumph, hardly surpassed in its

significance in the annals of the Cause." In that same letter he

asks her to ponder the advisability of approaching Her Majesty with

the news of the Jahrum martyrdoms and possibly enlisting her

sympathy in the cause of the Persian persecutions. That this consideration

influenced the Queen in making her further courageous

statements on the Faith there can be no doubt, as her letter to

Shoghi Effendi indicates that this was the case. The news of this

victory had reached Shoghi Effendi on the eve of the commemoration

of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji, at a time when, as he

described it in one of his general letters, "... His sorrowing

servants, had gathered round His beloved Shrine supplicating relief

and deliverance for the down-trodden in Persia" and Shoghi Effendi

goes on to say: "With bowed heads and grateful hearts we recognize

in this glowing tribute which Royalty has thus paid to the Cause

of Bahá'u'lláh an epoch-making pronouncement destined to herald

those stirring events which, as 'Abdu'l-Bahá has prophesied, shall

in the fullness of time signalize the triumph of God's Holy


This marked the inception of a relationship not only with the

Queen, but with other crowned heads and royalty in Europe on the

part of Martha Root, and in a few instances of Shoghi Effendi himself.

He not only greatly encouraged and guided her in these

relationships but, always staying within the bounds of dignity and

good breeding, always sincere in the human relationship, he

nevertheless used these contacts to serve the interests of the

Cause through heightening its prestige in the eyes of the public

and through seeing that they were pointedly brought to the

attention of the enemies of the Faith.

Until the time of the Queen's death, in 1938, Martha Root kept in

close touch with her, keeping her informed of Bahá'í activities and

receiving from her letters, written in her own hand, that were both

friendly and reflected her attachment to the Teachings of

Bahá'u'lláh. There was also an exchange of letters and cables

between Shoghi Effendi and the Queen; but often he sent her messages

through Martha, which was a more intimate way of contacting

her and less demanding of the high positions both he and the Queen

occupied in their respective spheres. There was another factor that

could not be lightly put aside and this was the constant pressure

on the Queen, who occupied such an exalted rank in her

Page 46

nation -- a nation so storm-tossed politically during her own reign

and during her period as Dowager Queen, from both ecclesiastical

and political factions -- to keep silent about a religion which was

not then widely known as it is today, which was viewed by the

ignorant as Islamic in nature, and her open sponsorship of which

they not only heartily disapproved but considered impolitic in the

highest degree.

The Queen herself mentions, in her very first letter to the Guardian,

that "Some of those of my caste wonder at and disapprove my

courage to step forward pronouncing words not habitual to Crowned

Heads to pronounce..." It required outstanding courage and deep

sincerity for her to repeatedly write testimonials of her personal

feelings on the subject of the Bahá'í Faith and grant permission

for these to be made public -- indeed Her Majesty wrote some of these

deliberately for publication in The Bahá'í World. On January 1,

1934 she wrote to Martha, enclosing one of her precious tributes

and giving personal news of herself and her family: "Will this do

for Vol. V? The difficulty is to not repeat myself..."

In 1927, on October 25th, Shoghi Effendi wrote to Martha: "I am in

receipt of your most welcome letters ... and I am thrilled by the

news they contained, particularly your remarkable and historic

interview with the Queen and Princess. I am sending you a number

of Bahá'í stones ... to be presented by you on my behalf to the

Queen, the Princess and any other member of the Royal Family whom

you think would appreciate and prize them ... Please assure the

Queen and Princess of our great love for them, of our prayers for

their happiness and success and of our warm and cordial invitation

to visit the Holy Land and be received in the Beloved's home."

Behind this interview with the Queen, which Shoghi Effendi refers

to in the above letter, undoubtedly lay his own influence and the

confirmations which flowed from his instruction to Martha in a

letter written on June 29th of that same year in which he said: "I

hope you will succeed in meeting not only the Rumanian Queen but

her daughter the Queen of Serbia and King Boris of Bulgaria as well

and I trust you will not hesitate to send me all particulars and

details regarding your work in such an important field."

There was a constant vigilance on the part of the Guardian

regarding all contact with the Royal families of Europe as witnessed

by the cable he sent following the death on July 20,1927,

of His Majesty King Ferdinand of Rumania:
Page 47
Her Majesty Queen Marie Bucharest

Abdulbahas family and Bahais world over tender Your Majesty

heartfelt condolences.

The Queen replied by cable, on July 27, as follows:

Shoghi Effendi, Haifa

Grateful thanks you and all yours with whom I feel spiritually so closely in touch.


Martha Root succeeded also in following the other instruction of

Shoghi Effendi, for in May 1928 he writes to her: "... Your marvellous

and historic interviews with members of the Rumanian and

Serbian Royal Families have inspired and thrilled us all..."

Earlier in April, Queen Marie and her daughter Ileana were on a

visit to Cyprus and the Guardian says, in his letter to Martha

Root, that the papers have published the news that the Queen

intended to visit Haifa and he wonders "whether they had in mind

such a visit and whether these premature disclosures deterred them

from accomplishing their intended pilgrimage..." During the

Queen's visit to Cyprus the Guardian cabled Sir Ronald Storrs, the

Governor of Cyprus, with whom the royal party was staying, the

following message: "Kindly convey to Her Majesty Queen of Rumania

and Her Royal Highness Princess Ileana on behalf 'Abdu'l-Bahá's

family and friends our heartfelt appreciation of the noble tribute

paid by them both to the ideals that animate the Bahá'í Faith. Pray

assure them of our best wishes and profound gratitude . " Sir

Ronald transmitted the appreciative reply of the Queen and Princess

to Shoghi Effendi.

The following draft, in the Guardian's own hand, of a long letter

he wrote to the Queen is of historic interest:
Haifa, Palestine,
December 3, 1929
Her Majesty
The Dowager Queen Marie of Rumania
Your Majesty

I have received through the intermediary of my dear Baha'i

sister Miss Martha Root, the autograph portrait of Your

Page 48

Majesty, bearing in simple and moving terms, the message which Your

Majesty has graciously been pleased to write in person. I shall

treasure this most excellent portrait, and I assure you, that the

Greatest Holy Leaf and the Family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá share to the full

my feelings of lively satisfaction at receiving so strikingly

beautiful a photograph of a Queen whom we have learned to love and


I have followed during the past few years with profound sympathy

the disturbed course of various happenings in your beloved country,

which I feel must have caused you much pain and concern. But

whatever the vicissitudes and perplexities which beset Your

Majesty's earthly path, I am certain that even in your saddest

hours, you have derived abundant sustenance and joy from the

thought of having, through your glowing and historic utterances on

the Bahá'í Faith as well as by your subsequent evidences of

gracious solicitude for its welfare, brought abiding solace and

strength to the multitude of its faithful and long suffering

adherents throughout the East. Yours surely, dearly beloved Queen,

is the station ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in the realms beyond to

which the strivings of no earthly power can ever hope to attain.

I have immediately upon the publication of the second volume of the

Bahá'í World, by the American Bahá'í Publishing Committee,

forwarded directly to Bucarest, to the address of Your Majesty and

that of Her Royal Highness Princess Ileana, copies of this most

recent and comprehensive of Bahá'í publications. I will take the

liberty of presenting in the course of the coming year the III

Volume of this same publication which I trust will prove of

interest to Your Majesty.

May I, in closing, reiterate the expression of profound

appreciation and joy which the Family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Baha'is

in every land universally feel for the powerful impetus which Your

Majesty's outspoken and noble words have lent to the onward march

of their beloved Faith.

The Family also join me in extending to Your Majesty, as well as

to Her Royal Highness Princess Ileana, a most cordial welcome

should Your Majesty ever purpose to visit the Holy Land to 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í

home in Haifa as well as to those scenes rendered so

hallowed and memorable by the heroic lives and deeds of Bahá'u'lláh

and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
Page 49

In 1930 Her Majesty visited Egypt with her daughter Ileana.

Shoghi Effendi, having had the unfortunate experience of indiscreet

publicity during her visit to Cyprus, wired Alexandria on February

l9th: "Advise Assembly in case Queen visits Egypt convey only

written expression of welcome and appreciation on behalf Baha'is.

Letter should be briefly carefully worded. No objection sending

flowers. Individual communications should be strictly avoided.

Inform Cairo."

In the hope that at last the Queen would be able to visit the

Bahá'í Holy Places in Palestine the Guardian had had Bahá'u'lláh's

Tablet to her grandmother, Queen Victoria, copied in fine Persian

calligraphy, and illuminated in Tihran. On the 21st of February he

cabled Tihran: "Illuminated Tablet Queen Victoria should reach

Haifa not later than March tenth on one or several pages. " This

was to be his gift to Her Majesty. Hearing no news of the Queen's

plans once she had reached Egypt he wired to her direct on March

8th: "Her Majesty, the Dowager Queen Marie of Rumania, aboard

Mayflower, Aswan. Family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá join me in renewing the

expression of our loving and heartfelt invitation to your gracious

Majesty and Her Royal Highness Princess Ileana to visit His home

in Haifa. Your Majesty's acceptance to visit Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine

and prison-city of 'Akka will apart from its historic significance

be a source of immeasurable strength joy and hope to the silent

sufferers of the Faith throughout the East. Our fondest love,

prayers and best wishes for Your Majesty's happiness and welfare."

Receiving no reply to this communication Shoghi Effendi sent

another wire on March 26th to the Queen at the Hotel Semiramis in

Cairo: "Fearing my former letter and telegram in which Family of

'Abdu'l-Bahá joined me in extending invitation to Your Majesty and

Her Royal Highness Princess Ileana may have miscarried, we are

pleased to express anew the pleasure it would give us all should

Your Majesty find it feasible to visit Bahá'u'lláh's and 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í

Shrines and the prison-city of 'Akka. Deeply regret

unauthorized publicity given by the Press." Two days later the

Rumanian Minister in Cairo wired Shoghi Effendi: "Her Majesty

regrets she will not be able to visit you."

The cancellation of the visit of the Queen and her daughter to the

Bahá'í Holy Places, which she had definitely set her heart upon,

was a source of deep disappointment not only to the Guardian but

also to the Queen herself. Behind the scenes there must have taken

place a real struggle between the courageous and independent

Page 50

Queen and her advisers for, after a long silence, she wrote to

Martha Root, in her own hand, describing at least a little of what

had taken place. In a letter dated June 28,1931, she stated: "Both

Ileana and I were cruelly disappointed at having been prevented

going to the holy shrines and of meeting Shoghi Effendi, but at

that time were going through a cruel crisis and every movement I

made was being turned against me and being politically exploited

in an unkind way. It caused me a good deal of suffering and

curtailed my liberty most unkindly. There are periods however when

one must submit to persecution, nevertheless, however high-hearted

one may be, it ever again fills one with pained astonishment when

people are mean and spiteful. I had my child to defend at that

time; she was going through a bitter experience and so I could not

stand up and defy the world. But the beauty of truth remains and

I cling to it through all the vicissitudes of a life become rather

sad ... I am glad to hear that your traveling has been so

fruitful and I wish you continual success knowing what a beautiful

message you are carrying from land to land." This letter ends with

a sentence, after Her Majesty's signature, that was perhaps more

significant of her attitude and character than anything else: "I

enclose a few words which may be used in your Year Book."

The loyalty of this "royal convert", as Shoghi Effendi styled

her, in the face of her increasing isolation, advancing age and the

political trends in Europe which were gradually to engulf so many

of her royal kin, deeply touched Shoghi Effendi. In 1934, on

January 23rd, he wrote to her again:
Your Majesty,

I am deeply touched by the splendid appreciation Your Majesty has

graciously penned for the Bahá'í World, and wish to offer my

heartfelt and abiding gratitude for this striking evidence of Your

Majesty's sustained interest in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.

I was moved to undertake its translation in person, and feel

certain that the unnumbered followers of the Faith in both the East

and the West will feel greatly stimulated in their unceasing

labours for the eventual establishment of the Most Great Peace

foretold by Bahá'u'lláh.

I am presenting to Your Majesty, through the care of Miss Martha

Root, a precious manuscript in the handwriting of Bahá'u'lláh,

illumined by a devoted follower of His Faith in Tihran.

Page 51

May it serve as a token of my admiration for the spirit that has

prompted Your Majesty to voice such noble sentiments for a

struggling and persecuted Faith.

With the assurance of my prayers at the threshold of Bahá'u'lláh

for Your Majesty's welfare and happiness,
I am yours very sincerely,

After sending the Queen a copy of his recently translated Gleanings

from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and receiving from her a

letter conveying her "most grateful thanks", which she ends by

saying "May the Great Father, be with us in spirit, helping us to

live and act as we should", Shoghi Effendi wrote to her as

Haifa, Feb. 18,1936
Your Majesty,

Miss Root has transmitted to me the original copy of the

appreciation penned by Your Majesty for the forthcoming issue of

Bahá'í World. I am deeply touched, and feel truly grateful for this

further evidence of Your Majesty's sustained interest in and

admiration for the Bahá'í Teachings.

Bahá'í Communities the world over will ever recall, with feelings

of pride and gratitude, these beautiful, impressive and historic

testimonies from the pen of Your Majesty -- testimonies that will no

doubt greatly inspire and hearten them in their continued labours

for the spread of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.

I am so pleased and encouraged to learn that Your Majesty has

derived much benefit from the reading of the Gleanings and I feel

that my efforts in translating these extracts are fully rewarded.

I am presenting to Your Majesty through the kindness of Mrs.

McNeill the latest photograph recently received from America

showing the progress in the construction of the Bahá'í House of

Worship in Wilmette. May the Spirit of Bahá'u'lláh ever bless and

sustain Your Majesty in the noble support you are extending to His

With deepest affection and gratitude,

The Mrs. McNeill mentioned in this letter lived near 'Akka in

the Mansion at Mazra'ih once occupied by Bahá'u'lláh. She had known

Page 52

the Queen as a child in Malta and when she learned through the

Guardian of the Queen's interest in the Faith she informed her of

her own interest and the associations of the house she lived in.

The Queen had written to her: "It was indeed nice to hear from you,

and to think that you are of all things living near Haifa and are,

as I am, a follower of the Bahá'í teachings ... the house you

live in ... made precious by its associations with the Man we all


Her Majesty's last published tribute to the Faith, in 1936, two

years before she died, seemed to aptly describe what Bahá'u'lláh's

Message had meant to her: "To those searching for light the Baha'i

Teachings offer a star which will lead them to deeper understanding,

to assurance, peace and good will with all men." She had won

for herself, Shoghi Effendi wrote, "imperishable renown ... in

the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh" through her "bold and epochal confession

of faith in the Fatherhood of Bahá'u'lláh"; "this illustrious

Queen may well deserve to rank as the first of those royal supporters

of the Cause of God who are to arise in future, and each of

whom, in the words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, is to be acclaimed as

'the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of

creation, the fountain-head of blessings unto the whole world.'"

One sees from all this, which began early in 1926, that the severe

crises which followed upon the inception of Shoghi Effendi's Guardianship,

released, as ever, the spiritual forces inherent in the

Faith and brought about such victories as the conversion of the

first Bahá'í Queen.
Page 53

That Shoghi Effendi was stern in all matters affecting the protection

of the Faith does not mean he could not be gentle and kind

also. He was fundamentally a very tender-hearted person and when

left sufflciently at peace within himself expressed this innate

kindness and tenderness not only to those who surrounded him but

to the believers personally in many ways. There are numerous

examples of this in his cable files. Over and over, when disaster

struck in some country where there were Baha'is, he would send an

enquiry such as this one to Persia: "Wire safety friends. Anxious

earthquake reports Persia Turkistan". Very often this would be

followed by financial help for those who were in desperate need.

When an American Baha'i, stricken in Persia by infantile paralysis,

was returning with his wife to the United States, Shoghi Effendi

cabled the friends in Beirut, Alexandria and New York, requesting

that they meet his boat and assist in every way they could. The

Guardian sent seven wires, in a short space of time, in connection

with a single Bahá'í who had various difflculties in getting to

Haifa and leaving after her pilgrimage was over. His thoroughness

in such matters, as well as his consideration, are delightfully

reflected in this telegram to Egypt: "Dewing New Zealand Baha'i

arriving tonight Cairo for one day. Urge meet him station. He wears

helmet. If missed meet him next morning Cooks offlce nine o'clock.

Extend utmost kindness." On another occasion we find Shoghi Effendi

cabling, in connection with a Bahá'í who for some reason had not

been able to land in Haifa, to "comfort him my behalf'.

Sometimes the spirit animating a Bahá'í was such as to persuade

Shoghi Effendi to change his own instructions. An instance of this

is the case of Marion Jack, whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá called "General Jack"

and the Guardian called an "immortal heroine", saying she was a

shining example to pioneers of present and future
Page 54

generations in both the East and the West, and that no one had surpassed

her in "constancy, dedication, self-abnegation, fearlessness"

except the "incomparable Martha Root" . Jackie -- as she was

usually called -- lived in Sofia, Bulgaria and when war broke out

Shoghi Effendi, concerned over her dangerous position, wired her:

"Advise return Canada wire whether financially able" . She replied,

"... how about Switzerland" but assured him of her implicit

obedience. Shoghi Effendi then wired, "Approve Switzerland" but she

still did not want to leave her pioneer post and begged to be

allowed to remain in Bulgaria, to which the Guardian replied:

"Advise remain Sofia love."

There is a great mystery involving the levels of service. Shoghi

Effendi always advised the friends to pursue a moderate and wise

course, but if they did not, and chose to rise to heights of

heroism and self-sacrifice, he was immensely proud of them. After

all, there is nothing either wise or moderate in being

martyred -- yet our crowning glory as a religion is that our first

Prophet was martyred and twenty thousand people followed in His

footsteps. I have tried to understand this mystery, moderation on

one side and Bahá'u'lláh's words on the other: "... then write

with that crirnson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter

indeed is this than all else..." and it seems to me that the

best example is an aeroplane: when it trundles along on the ground

on its wheels it is in the dimension of the ground, going along

steadily on an earthly plane, but when it soars in the air and

folds its wheels away and leaps forward at dazzling speeds, it is

in a celestial realm and the values are different. When we are on

the ground we get good sound earthly advice, but if we choose to

spurn the soil and leap into the realms of higher serv1ce and

sacrifice we do not get that kind of advice any more, we win

immortal fame and become heroes and heroines of God's Cause.

Shoghi Effendi worked through everything; everything that he

encountered, individual, object or piece of land, that could be

turned to an advantageous use for the Faith he seized upon and

used. Although in general he worked through Assemblies and

Committees, he also worked directly through individuals. An example

of this is Victoria Bedekian, known as "Auntie Victoria". For years

she wrote letters, widely circulated in the West and the East, and

the Guardian encouraged her in this activity and even told her what

she should emphasize in her communications.

He was not fussy about sources of information; by this I mean he

Page 55

did not always wait until official channels corroborated the

arrival of a pioneer at his post or some piece of good news which

had been conveyed to him through a personal letter or by a pilgrim,

but would incorporate his encouraging information in his messages.

This latitude which Shoghi Effendi allowed himself meant that the

whole work of the Faith was bowled forward at a far faster pace

than if he had done otherwise. Like all great leaders he possessed

something of the quality of a good press man who realizes that the

time factor in conveying news is of great importance and that speed

itself has an impact and stimulates the imagination. This practice

of his should not, however, mislead us into thinking that he was

not extraordinarily thorough. The exactitude with which he compiled

statistics, sought out historic facts, worked on every minute

detail of his maps and plans was astonishing.

The whole of Shoghi Effendi's life activity as the Guardian, his

mind and his feelings, his reactions and instructions, can be found

reflected in miniature in his cables and telegrams; often they were

more intimate, more powerful and revealing than the thousands of

letters he wrote to individuals because in his letters his

secretary usually dealt with details and thus the words are not the

Guardian's own words, except for the postscripts which he wrote

himself and which most of the time conveyed the assurance of his

prayers, his encouragement and his statement of general


Shoghi Effendi, like his grandfather and great-grandfather before

him, had a delightful sense of humour which was ready to manifest

itself if he were given any chance to be happy or enjoy a little

peace of mind. His eyes would fairly dance with amusement, he would

chuckle delightedly and sometimes break out into open laughter.

Inside his family, with those he was familiar with, he liked to


On one side so majestic, on the other so engagingly confiding,

innocent-hearted and youthful, such was our Guardian! One of my

tasks, once Shoghi Effendi knew I could paint a little, was to

colour various things for him and one of these was a map showing

the plots owned by the Bahá'í Community on Mt. Carmel. One day when

I was adding colour to some newly-acquired areas Shoghi Effendi

told me to paint them lighter. I asked why. Why, he said, to show

they are a "recent acquisition". It was such a clear reflection of

the joy these newly-purchased plots afforded him.

This recalls another aspect of Shoghi Effendi's richly endowed

personality. He was very tenacious of his purposes, very

Page 56

determined, but never unreasonable. Although he never changed his

objectives he sometimes changed the course he had planned to take

to reach them.

All through the Guardian's ministry we see the light of Divine

Guidance shining on his path, confirming his decisions, inspiring

his choice. But there are always unforeseeable factors in every

plan. Acts of God, and the sum of human endeavour, constantly

change plans, little or big. This has always happened to the

greatest as well as the smallest human beings, and the words of the

Prophets themselves attest it. Shoghi Effendi was subject to such

forces, but he also frequently modified his own plans. Examples of

this are many and interesting: at one time he conceived the idea

of placing the Mausoleum of Bahá'u'lláh on Mt. Carmel, but later

gave this up entirely and fixed its permanent place in Bahji; what

became known as the World Crusade or Ten Year Plan was at first

announced as a Seven Year Plan; one Temple to be built during this

Plan became three Temples; the original eight European goal

countries became ten; and so on. If outside forces over which the

Guardian had no control frustrated some plan of his -- as opposed to

his modifying or expanding some plan of his own in the light of

circumstances -- he immediately compensated, so that the Cause, if

a temporary defeat or humiliation was inflicted upon it, came out

in the end with an augmented victory, a richer endowment.

Shoghi Effendi might be deflected from his course but he was never

defeated in his purpose and his ingenuity was remarkable. A good

example of this is the way he arranged for two of the three great

new Continental Bahá'í Temples of the Ten Year Plan to be built.

He extracted from the architect he had at hand the designs he felt

were suitable for the Sydney and Kampala Houses of Worship. These

were dignified, pleasing in proportion, conservative in style and

relatively modest in cost. Since the architect was not in a position

to carry out the detailed drawings or supervise the actual

construction, Shoghi Effendi, not making a great circumstance of

what to a fussy and small-minded man would have imposed an

insuperable obstacle, proceeded to instruct the two National

Assemblies involved to get local architectural firms to carry out

the details and erect the buildings. Shoghi Effendi himself

modified the expensive suggestions these firms at first made and

got both Temples built within what he considered a reasonable price

for the Cause to pay. Over and over his shrewdness and sound

judgement saved the money of the Faith so that it could be spent

on the many all-important
Page 57
tasks and not create temporary

bankruptcy through the unwise prosecution of a single project.

Economy was a very rigid principle with Shoghi Effendi and he had

very stern ideas on money matters. He more than once refused to

permit an individual to make the pilgrimage who he knew was in

debt, saying he must first pay his debts. I never saw the Guardian

settle a bill he had not first carefully added up, whether it was

for a meal or a payment of thousands of dollars! If there was an

overcharge he pointed it out -- and also if there was an undercharge.

Many times I went to astonished people and called to their attention

that their addition was wrong and they should do it again or

they would be the losers. He also was a determined bargainer, never

paying what he felt was too much for a thing. More than once, when

a beautiful ornament for the Shrines, Archives, or gardens was too

expensive, and the seller could not or would not meet the

Guardian's price, he would not buy it even though he wanted it and

had the money. He just considered it wrong and would not do it.

Although Shoghi Effendi for many years had had a private automobile

and chauffeur (like 'Abdu'l-Bahábefore him), because spare parts

were not procurable for it during the worst years of the war he had

it sold and used taxis. I have no doubt that as with sufficient

money one can usually buy anything he could have procured another

car, but it never entered his mind. He was against extravagance,

ostentation and luxury as such, denying himself and others many

things because he felt they were either not justified or not


Another of the strongly marked characteristics of the Guardian was

his openness. The believers were his confidants. Freely, majestically,

aloof but with a most endearing and heart-captivating confidence,

he would share with the pilgrims who were his guests not

only his ideas and his interpretations of the Teachings, but his

projects and plans. There were no privileged communicants who

received his thought as of right. In spite of the fact that the

National Assemblies were his channels through which he passed on

his great Plans and the bodies by which they were prosecuted, he

was wont to share these Plans in almost full detai1 with those he

met, to such an extent that many a returning pilgrim was in

possession of nearly all the details that were soon to be

communicated to the Bahá'í world officially. The same was true of

his work at the World Centre. So complete was this frankness that

he sometimes drew little sketches at the table to illustrate what

he was now doing in the gardens on
Page 58
Mt. Carmel, how the "arc"

would be, what buildings might be erected on it, and so on.

Each new thing he was setting in motion, nationally or internationally,

one might almost say followed the same pattern as the

dawn of a day: the first light, feelers of vision, would be

discerned in his words to visiting pilgrims, or lie half-hidden in

his communications to the Bahá'í world; then would come the

glimmering of goals beginning to take shape as the sun of his

concept rose higher and he focussed the brilliant energy of his

mind upon it; finally, in a clear burst of illumination, would come

the whole idea in all its splendour -- a Seven Year Plan, a Ten Year

Plan, the warnings and promises in some new and wonderful general

letter, the complete instructions regarding such major projects as

the completion of the Shrine of the Báb, the International

Archives, one of the great new Houses of Worship, or the exposition

of certain fundamental themes contained in such books as The Advent

of Divine Justice and The Promised Day Is Come.

The relationship of Shoghi Effendi to the pilgrims, his courtesy

as a host, his kindness shown to them in so many little ways, the

things he so openly discussed with them, had a tremendous effect

on the work the Bahá'ís were accomplishing in so many countries,

for when these fortunate believers returned to their own communities

they acted as a leaven, stimulating their fellow Baha'is

to greater efforts, making the Guardian a more real person to those

who had not been privileged to meet him face to face, creating a

sense of nearness both to him and to the World Centre that by any

other method would have been hard to achieve.

But in spite of all he showered upon the pilgrims -- from providing

for their physical comfort as his guests to tearing the veils

from their eyes and educating them in their Faith -- whenever one of

them would seek to express his or her deep gratitude for the honour

of meeting him, he would instantly turn this aside, saying the purpose

of the pilgrimage was to visit the Holy Shrines.

The last year of the Guardian's life two Swiss pilgrims came to

Haifa. Their presence stirred up all his memories of Switzerland

and his love for their country poured out in a manner wholly unlike

his usual reserve about his personal life and feelings. I had been

ill in bed and not present at dinner in the Pilgrim House but when

Shoghi Effendi came home he told me he had said everything, about

the mountains he had climbed, the walks he had taken, the scenes

he loved so much. It was very atypical of him,

very rare and a clear index of something deep in his own heart.

He was moved to inform them that he wished Switzerland to have

its own Temple site, which was to be situated near the capital city

of Bern and have a clearview of the Bernese Alps, where he had

spent so many months of his life walking and climbing. On August

12, 1957 he communicated to what was then the National Spiritual

Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Italy and Switzerland his wishes in this

matter. His secretary wrote: "As he explained to , he is very

anxious for Switzerland to purchase a plot, however small in size,

and modest a beginning it might be, for the future Mashriqu'lAdhkar

of that country. He feels this should be in the outskirts of Bern,

overlooking the Bernese Oberland; and he is very happy to be able

to present this land himself to the Swiss Community. No publicity

whatsoever should be given to this matter lest an opposition

resembling that which has arisen in Germany should be provoked

amongst the orthodox element in Bern. Whenever the committee

responsible for finding this land has located a suitable plot, he

would like your Assembly to inform him of the details." This was

a gift of a unique nature, no other community in the Bahá'í world

having been thus honoured. The plot of land, almost 2,000 square

metres in area, on the outskirts of Bern, overlooks the Gurberthal

and from it can be seen the famous Finsteraarhorn, Monch, Eiger and

Jungfrau mountains, the scene of many of the Guardian's

mountaineering exploits, the scene also of many of the most

agonizing hours he passed after the ascension of his grandfather.

On one occasion a pilgrim from Canada had informed the Guardian

that in teaching the Faith to the Eskimo people it was very

difficult for them to understand the meaning in such similes as the

nightingale and the rose because these things were entirely unknown

to them. The reaction of Shoghi Effendi to this was typical. When

he said good-bye to this friend he gave her a small vial of the

Persian attar of rose, the quintessence of what a rose is, and told

her to anoint the Eskimos with it, saying that perhaps in this way

they would get an inkling of what Bahá'u'lláh meant when He wrote

of the rose.

Another incident comes to my mind. Among the last pilgrims to leave

Haifa before Shoghi Effendi himself left in June 1957, never to

return, were two American negro believers . As long as I live I

will never forget the look on the face of one of them as she sat

opposite the Guardian at the Pilgrim House table. One could see

that in meeting him -- who met all men as the creation of God, with

Page 60

other feeling than pleasure that they were as God had made them --

the hurts and sorrows of a lifetime were melted away. She looked

at him with a combination of the great loving heart of a mother and

the reverence due him in his glorious station that I think must be

the look on the faces of the angels in Paradise as they gaze upon

their Lord.

Those who had the privilege of being near the Guardian, no matter

how much experience they had had or how long they had been Baha'is

eome, like myself from birth -- were constantly having their concept

of the greatness of this Cause expanded by Shoghi Effendi's words,

his reactions and his example. I remember my surprise when, in his

long Ridvan Message to the B aha' i world in 1957, he mentioned

(obviously with pride or he would not have included it) the

"recently converted Bahá'í inmates" in Kitalya Prison in Uganda.

It had never occurred to me that one would mention Bahá'ís being

in a prison without shame! But there he was proclaiming that

we had a group of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in a prison. He

often referred to this in his talks to the pilgrims and as I

pondered over this and the things he said about it I realized that

as this Faith is for all men, the saints and the sinners, there

were two principles involved. One was the fact that society must

be governed by laws, protected by laws and men punished through

laws; and the other was that belief in the Manifestation of God

should be universal and include everyone, because the act of faith

is the spark that sets the soul alight and gives it eternal

awareness of its God, and this was something each soul had a right

to, no matter what his sins might be. In more than one letter, at

different times to different people, Shoghi Effendi encouraged the

Bahá'ís to teach in prisons.

The sympathy which all the Prophets of God have shown towards

the down-trodden, the meek, the poor and the outcast, singling them

out for particular succour, protection and loving encouragement,

was always manifested in the Guardian's acts and words. But we must

not confuse this attitude with the fundamental truth that many

groups of people who at present fall into these categories not only

deserve to receive special attention but have within themselves

reserves of power and spiritual greatness needed by the entire

world. Take, for example, the Indians of the Western Hemisphere.

'Abdu'l-Bahá had written: "You must attach great importance to the

Indians, the original inhabitants of America. For these souls may

be likened unto the ancient inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula,

who, prior to the Revelation of Muhammad,
Page 61

were like savages. When the Muhammadan Light shone forth in their

midst, they became so enkindled that they shed illumination upon

the world. Likewise, should these Indians be educated and properly

guided, there can be no doubt that through the Divine teachings

they will become so enlightened that the whole earth will be

illumined." Throughout his ministry Shoghi Effendi never forgot

these words and repeatedly urged the believers throughout Canada

and the Americas to enlist these souls under the banner of

Bahá'u'lláh. Some of the last letters he wrote, in July 1957, to

various National Assemblies in the Western Hemisphere, again

forcibly stressed this subject and referred to the "long overdue

conversion of the American Indians". I quote an excerpt from his

instructions written by his secretary on his behalf:

"He was particularly happy to see that some of the Indian believers

were present at the Convention. He attaches the greatest

importance to teaching the original inhabitants of the Americas the

Faith. 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has stated how great are their potentialities,

and it is their right, and the duty of the non-Indian

Baha'is, to see that they receive the Message of God for this day.

One of the most worthy objectives of your Assembly must be the

establishment of all-Indian Spiritual Assembties. Other minorities

should likewise be especially sought out and taught. The friends

should bear in mind that in our Faith, unlike every other society,

the minority, to compensate for what might be treated as an

inferior status, receives special attention, love and consideration..."

To a pilgrim belonging to the Mongolian race the Guardian stated

that as the majority of the people in the world were not white

there was no reason why the majority of Bahá'ís inside the Faith

should be white; on the contrary, the Cause should reflect the

situation existing in the world. To Shoghi Effendi differences were

not something to be eliminated but rather the legitimate,

necessary, indeed fascinating, ingredients that made the whole so

much more beautiful and perfect.

Not only did Shoghi Effendi constantly inculcate in the Bahá'ís the

respect due to people of different ethnic backgrounds, he also

taught them what respect, and above all what reverence, as qualities

needed to round out a noble human character, really are. Reverence

for holy things is sadly lacking in the Western World today.

In an age when the mistaken idea of equality seems to imply that

every blade of grass must be exactly the same height, the Guardian's

own profound respect for those above himself in rank was

Page 62

best example one could find. The extreme reverence he showed to the

Twin Manifestations of God and to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whether in his

writings, his speech or the manner in which he approached Their

resting-places provides a permanent pattern for all Bahá'ís to follow.

Whenever Shoghi Effendi was near one of the Shrines one could

sense his awareness of this in his whole being. The way he walked

as he neared it, the way he quietly and with great dignity and

reverence approached the threshold, knelt and placed his forehead

upon it, the way he never turned his back when inside the Shrine

on that spot where one of these infinitely holy and precious beings

was interred, the tone of his voice, his dignified lack of any

levity on such occasions, all bore witness to the manner in which

man should approach a holy of holies, going softly on sacred ground

. It is really with the soul that man has to do in this life, for

it is all he will take with him when he leaves it. It is this

fundamental concept -- so obscured and forgotten in present-day

philosophies -- that endows even the dust of noble beings with a

mystic potency. So strong is the perfume of some roses that even

years after they have withered and dried out one can still smell

the rose in them. This is a feeble example of the power which

remains in the very dust that has been associated with the towering

spirits of divine souls when they were in this world.

This wonderful emotion of reverence -- which seems when it sweeps

over us to blow away so much of the dross in our immature

natures -- was a deep characteristic of the Guardian, who learned it

in his childhood as he sat on his heels, arms crossed on breast,

before his exalted grandfather. It is not a ritualistic thing that

is at stake here. There are no rituals in the Bahá'í Faith. It is

an attitude. Although the Guardian was wont to prostrate himself

before the thresholds of the Holy Tombs, He was at pains to explain

to the pilgrims that they were free to do so or not. He did it

because it was a custom in the part of the East from which his

ancestors came. But the reverence was another matter; one thing was

a form of expression the individual could choose for himself, the

other was the proper spirit that should dwell in the heart of a

devotee as he approaches those things that are most sacred in this


No picture of Shoghi Effendi's personality would ever be complete

that did not depict the truly extraordinary artistic sense he

possessed. This does not mean he could have been a painter; he was

a writer par excellence. But he certainly had a painter's and an

architect's eye. This was coupled with that fundamental quality

Page 63

which I cannot see how anyone can achieve greatness in any of

the arts or the sciences -- a perfect sense of proportion, a sense

of proportion measured in millimetres rather than centimetres. It

was he who fixed the style of the Shrine of the Báb through his

instructions -- mostly not in detail but in principle -- to my father.

It was he who set the design for the International Archives

Building, to such an extent that its architect would invariably

state it was Shoghi Effendi's design, not his. The Guardian, with

no help and no advice, laid out his superb gardens in Bahji and

Haifa, every measurement being his own. But what people do not

perhaps realize is that the appearance of the Shrine interiors, the

Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, the House of 'Abbud, the Mansion at

Mazra'ih, was not created by anyone, however slight the detail,

except the Guardian himself. He not only steadily added to the

ornaments, photographs, lamps and furnishings that make these

places so beautiful, but everything was placed where it was under

his supeNision. Not a picture hung on the walls that was not placed

exactly where it was, to within a centimetre, by him. He not only

created the effect of beauty that meets the eye as one enters those

places, but he produced it all at a minimum cost, buying things not

so much because of their style and period but because they were

inexpensive and could achieve an effect regardless of their

intrinsic worth. His visits to the Shrines and gardens were my only

opportunities to have his room cleaned. How often I remember how,

in spite of my efforts and the maid's to get the many objects on

his desk back into their exact positions, he would enter his

bedroom, in which he did all his work, go to his desk, cast an eye

over it automatically, reach out his hand and give an almost

infinitesimal twist to the different objects which he detected were

slightly out of the position he liked them to be in, though I am

sure the difference was practically invisible to any eye but his.

Needless to add that all this went with a neatness and tidiness

that was phenomenal.

Unhampered by tradition in matters of taste Shoghi Effendi was

extremely original and ingenious in the way he achieved his

effects. He did things no over-instructed authority on a series of

do's and don't's would ever have attempted. Take for instance the

interior decoration of the Greek style Archives Building. In order

to acquire more space as a single giant hall in which to exhibit

the many objects, sacred or otherwise, with which he intended to

furnish it, Shoghi Effendi had two narrow balconies built, running

its full length on either side, which were protected by a purely

Page 64

renaissance, excellent in style, wooden balustrade. Most of the

cabinets he chose to line the walls of the hall downstairs were

Japanese lacquer or Chinese carved teak wood. The six great chandeliers

suspended from the ceiling were of cut crystal and purely

European in design. When I asked the Guardian what furniture he

would place on the balconies he said he would use some of the

cabinets from the previous Archives, which were really of no style

at all but just modern veneer furniture such as people have in

their homes these days. Yet this strange assortment of things

representing different periods and different countries, including

innumerable objets d'art, have combined to create an impression of

beauty, of dignity, of richness and splendour it would be hard to

equal anywhere.
Page 65

The supreme influence on Shoghi Effendi's life was his beloved

grandfather, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and next to this came his lifelong relationship

with the Master's sister, known as the Greatest Holy

Leaf, who watched over him from babyhood with more than a mother's

love and care. When she passed away in 1932 the news reached him

in Interlaken, Switzerland. Although he was well aware of her

condition, which he described in 1929 when he wrote that the

Greatest Holy Leaf was "now in the evening of her life, with

deepening shadows caused by failing eyesight and declining strength

swiftly gathering about her"; although he had had a premonition of

her swiftly approaching death, when he wrote in March 1932 to the

American believers urging them to press on with the completion of

the dome of "our beloved Temple" and said that "my voice is once

more reinforced by the passionate, and perhaps, the last, entreaty,

of the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose spirit, now hovering on the edge

of the Great Beyond, longs to carry on its flight to the Abha

Kingdom ... an assurance of the joyous consummation of an

enterprise, the progress of which has so greatly brightened the

closing days of her earthly life"; although she was now eighty-six

years old -- none of this softened the blow or mellowed the grief

that overwhelmed the Guardian. On July 15th he cabled America announcing

that her spirit had taken its flight to that Great Beyond,

bewailing the "sudden removal of my sole earthly sustainer, the joy

and solace of my life", and informing the friends that "So grievous

a bereavement necessitates suspension for nine months throughout

Bahá'í world every manner religious festivity"; memorial meetings

were to be held everywhere, locally and nationally, for her, the

"last remnant of Bahá'u'lláh".

But it was on July 17th that he wrote to the American and Canadian

believers a letter that provides a glimpse of what was passing

Page 66

the surging sea of his heart and in which he eulogizes the life,

station and deeds of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í sister, pouring forth his love

in an unforgettable torrent of words.

Dearly-beloved Greatest Holy Leaf! Through the mist of tears that

fill my eyes I can clearly see, as I pen these lines, thy noble

figure before me, and can recognize the serenity of thy kindly

face. I can still gaze, though the shadow of the grave separate us,

into thy blue, love-deep eyes, and can feel, in its calm intensity,

the immense love thou didst bear for the Cause of thine Almighty

Father, the attachment that bound thee to the most lowly and

insignificant among its followers, the warm affection thou didst

cherish for me in thine heart. The memory of the ineffable beauty

of thy smile shall ever continue to cheer and hearten me in the

thorny path I am destined to pursue. The remembrance of the touch

of thine hand shall spur me on to follow steadfastly in thy way.

The sweet magic of thy voice shall remind me, when the hour of

adversity is at its darkest, to hold fast to the rope thou didst

seize so firmly all the days of thy life.

Bear thou this my message to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, thine exalted and

divinely-appointed Brother: If the Cause for which Bahá'u'lláh

toiled and laboured, for which Thou didst suffer years of agonizing

sorrow, for the sake of which streams of sacred blood have

flowed, should, in the days to come, encounter storms more severe

than those it has already weathered, do Thou continue to

overshadow, with Thine all-encompassing care and wisdom, Thy frail,

Thy unworthy appointed child.

What the Greatest Holy Leaf had done for Shoghi Effendi at the

time of the Master's passing and in the years that followed is

beyond calculation. She had played, as he said, a unique part

throughout the tumultuous stages of Bahá'í history, not the least

of which had been the establishment of Shoghi Effendi's own

ministry after the death of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. "Which of the blessings

am I to recount," wrote Shoghi Effendi, "which in her unfailing

solicitude she showered upon me, in the most critical and agitated

hours of my life?" He says that to him she had been an incarnation

of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í all-encompassing tenderness and love. As her life

had waned his had waxed. With what deep satisfaction she must have

seen, as the tide of her own life receded from the shores of this

world, that Shoghi Effendi was become strong in his Guardianship,

able to face
Page 67

the incessant blows he received with the fortitude of a man now

fully grown into his stupendous task.

So close was the communion between Shoghi Effendi and his great-

aunt that over and over, in cables and other communications,

particularly during the early years of his Guardianship, he

included her with himself in such phrases as "assure us", "the

Greatest Holy Leaf and I", "we", and so on. In a cable sent in 1931

he even signs it "Bahiyyih Shoghi". Nothing could be more revealing

of this intense love he had for her than the fact that on the day

we were married it was to her room, where everything is preserved

as it was in her days, standing beside her bed, that the Guardian

went to have the simple Bahá'í marriage ceremony of hand in hand

performed and we each repeated the words in Arabic: "We will all,

verily, abide by the Will of God."

This love the Guardian had for the Greatest Holy Leaf, who had

watched over him for thirty-five years as far more than a mother,

continued to be demonstrated for the remainder of his life. When

the news of her death reached him in Switzerland his first act was

to plan for her grave a suitable memorial which he hastened to

Italy to order. No one could possibly call this exquisitely

proportioned monument, built of shining white Carrara marble,

anything but what it appears -- a love temple, the embodiment of

Shoghi Effendi's love. He had undoubtedly conceived its design from

buildings of a similar style and, under his supervision, an artist

now incorporated his concept in the monument he planned to erect

on her resting-place. Shoghi Effendi used to compare the stages in

the Administrative Order of the Faith to this monument, saying the

platform of three steps was like the local Assemblies, the pillars

like the National Assemblies, and the dome that crowned them and

held them together like the Universal House of Justice, which could

not be placed in position until the foundations and pillars were

first firmly erected. After the Greatest Holy Leaf's monument had

been completed in all its beauty he had a photograph of it sent to

many different Assemblies, as well as to a special list of individuals

to whom he wished to present so tender a memento.

In every act of his life he associated the Greatest Holy Leaf with

his services to the Faith. When he entombed the remains of the

mother and brother of Bahiyyih Khanum on Mt. Carmel he cabled: ".

. . cherished wish Greatest Holy Leaf fulfilled", referring to her

often expressed desire to be buried near them. On that momentous

occasion he said he rejoiced at the privilege of pledging one

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thousand pounds as his contribution to the Bahfyyih Khanum Fund

designed to inaugurate the final drive connected with the completion

of the American Temple. He wrote that this transfer and reburial

were events of "capital institutional significance". He said

"the conjunction of the resting-place of the Greatest Holy Leaf

with those of her brother and mother incalculably reinforces the

spiritual potencies of that consecrated Spot", which was "destined

to evolve into the focal centre of those world-shaking, world-

embracing, world-directing Administrative institutions, ordained

by Bahá'u'lláh..."

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í mantle, as Head of the Faith, fell on Shoghi

Effendi's shoulders a great change came over him. What the nature

of that change was spiritually it is not for us -- so infinitely remote

in both station and stature -- to either grasp or seek to

define. Shoghi Effendi was never really intimate with anyone except

the closest members of his family and, in the early days, those who

acted as his help-mates and secretaries. As years went by and his

burdens increased, even this intimacy grew less.

Surely the simplicity of the marriage of Shoghi Effendi -- reminis-

cent of the simplicity of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í own marriage in the

prison-city of 'Akka -- should provide a thought-provoking example to

the Bahá'ís everywhere. No one, with the exception of his parents,

my parents and a brother and two sisters of his living in Haifa,

knew it was to take place. He felt strongly urged to keep it a

secret, knowing from past experience how much trouble any major

event in the Cause invariably stirred up. It was therefore a

stunning surprise to both the servants and the local Bahá'ís when

his chauffeur drove him off, with me beside him, to visit the Holy

Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh on the afternoon of March 24, 1937. His heart

drew him to that Most Sacred Spot on earth at such a moment in his

life. I remember I was dressed entirely in black for this unique

occasion. I wore a white lace blouse, but otherwise I was a typical

example of the way oriental women dressed to go out into the

streets in those days, the custom being to wear black. Although I

was from the West Shoghi Effendi desired me to fit into the pattern

of the life in his house -- which was a very oriental one -- as

naturally and inconspicuously as possible and I was only too happy

to comply with his wishes in every way. When we arrived at Bahji

and entered the Shrine he requested me to give him his ring, which

I was wearing concealed about my neck, and this he placed on the

ring-finger of my right hand, the same finger that corresponded to

the one of his own on which he
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himself had always worn it. This was the only gesture he made. He

entered the inner Shrine, beneath the floor of which Bahá'u'lláh

is interred, and gathered up in a handkerchief all the dried petals

and flowers that the keeper of the Shrine used to take from the

threshold and place in a silver receptacle at the feet of

Bahá'u'lláh. After he had chanted the Tablet of Visitation we came

back to Haifa. There was no celebration, no flowers, no elaborate

ceremony, no wedding dress, no reception. His mother and father,

in compliance with the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, signified their consent

by signing our marriage certificates and then I went back to the

Western Pilgrim House across the street and joined my parents (who

had not been present at any of these events), and Shoghi Effendi

went to attend to his own affairs. At dinner-time, quite as usual,

the Guardian appeared, showering his love and congratulations on

my mother and father. He took the handkerchief, full of such

precious flowers, and with his inimitable smile gave them to my

mother, saying he had brought them for her from the inner Shrine

of Bahá'u'lláh. My parents also signed the marriage certificate and

after dinner and these events were over I walked home with Shoghi

Effendi, my suitcases having been taken across the street by Fujita

while we were at dinner. We visited for awhile with the Guardian's

family and then went up to his two rooms which the Greatest Holy

Leaf had had built for him so long ago.

The quietness, the simplicity, the reserve and dignity with which

this marriage took place did not signify that the Guardian considered

it an unimportant event -- on the contrary. Over his mother's

signature, but drafted by the Guardian, the following cable was

sent to America: "Announce Assemblies celebration marriage beloved

Guardian. Inestimable honour conferred upon handmaid of Bahá'u'lláh

Ruhiyyih Khanum Miss Mary Maxwell. Union of East and West

proclaimed by Bahá'í Faith cemented. Ziaiyyih mother of the

Guardian. " A telegram similar to this was sent to Persia. This

news, so long awaited, naturally produced great rejoicing amongst

the Bahá'ís and messages flooded in to Shoghi Effendi from all

parts of the world. To that received from the National Assembly of

the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada Shoghi Effendi replied:

"Deeply moved your message. Institution Guardianship, head

cornerstone Administrative Order Cause Bahá'u'lláh, already

ennobled through its organic connection with Persons of Twin

Founders Bahá'í Faith, is now further reinforced through direct

association with West and particularly with American

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believers, whose spiritual destiny is to usher in World Order

Bahá'u'lláh. For my part desire congratulate community American

believers on acquisition tie vitally binding them to so weighty an

organ of their Faith." To innumerable other messages his practically

universal answer was merely an expression of loving appreciation

for their felicitations.

The most significant point, however, associated with the Guardian's

marriage is the stress he laid on the fact that it had drawn

the Occident and the Orient closer to each other. It had not only

done this but other ties had also been reinforced and established.

In reply to an inquiry from the American Assembly: "Request advice

policy concerning announcement marriage" Shoghi Effendi stated:

"Approve public announcement. Emphasize significance institution

Guardianship union East West and linking destinies Persia America.

Allude honour conferred British peoples" -- a direct allusion to my

Scotch Canadian father.

All this had such an effect on the American Community that its

national body informed the Guardian it was sending $19.00 from each

one of its seventy-one American Assemblies "for immediate

strengthening new tie binding American Bahá'ís to institution

Guardianship" -- truly a most unusual, pure-hearted wedding gift to

the Cause itself.
Page 71

Shoghi Effendi was the keenest observer of political events and

kept abreast of all happenings. His intelligence and analytical

faculties did not permit him to lull himself into any false

complacency, induced by the rather childish idea people sometimes

have of what "faith" means. He well knew that to have faith in God

does not mean one should not use one's mind, appraise dangers,

anticipate moves, make the right decisions during a crisis.

Steeped in the Teachings from his childhood, the alert and observant

companion of his grandfather, Shoghi Effendi seems to have

always been aware of what he called "the initial perturbations of

the world-shaking catastrophe in store for an unbelieving

humanity". Though he saw another war coming, he did not live in a

constant state of false emergency. He reassured Martha Root, who

in 1927 wrote to him from Europe about her fears: "As to the matter

of an eventual war that may break out in Europe, do not feel in the

least concerned or worried. The prospect is very remote, the danger

for the near future is non-existent' -- even though that same year

he had stated the inevitability of another deadly conflict was

becoming increasingly manifest. Over and over he prepared the minds

of the Bahá'ís to face the fact that a world conflagration was

coming. In 1938 he wrote, "The twin processes of internal

disintegration and external chaos are being accelerated and every

day are inexorably moving towards a climax. The rumblings that must

precede the eruption of those forces that must cause 'the limbs of

humanity to quake' can already be heard. 'The time of the end',

'the latter years', as foretold in the Scriptures, are at long last

upon us." And in The Advent of Divine Justice, which he wrote at

the end of December 1938, he clearly anticipated the war: "Who

knows", he asked, "but that these few remaining, fast-fleeting

years, may not be pregnant with ... conflicts more devastating

than any which
Page 72

have preceded them." And in April 1939 he had written: "the sands

of a moribund civilization are inexorably running out".

As the long shadow of war descended on Europe I remember well the

almost tangible feeling of catastrophe that enveloped me when

Shoghi Effendi wrote, from the very heart of that continent, the

poetic and powerful words that opened his cable of August 30, 1939:

"shades night descending imperilled humanity inexorably deepening..."

In July 1940 he had cabled that the fires of war "... now

threaten devastation both Near East Far East respectively

enshrining World Centre chief remaining citadel Faith Bahá'u'lláh..."

It seems unbelievable that in the midst of so many

anxieties the Guardian should have had the mental power and

physical strength to sit down and write such a book as The Promised

Day Is Come -- a book in which he made it quite clear that the "retributory

calamity" which had overtaken mankind, whatever its

political and economic causes might be, was primarily due to its

having ignored for a hundred years the Message of God for this


The dangers and problems which the war brought to us in Haifa and

to the Bahá'í world in general were faced by Shoghi Effendi with

remarkable calm. This does not mean he did not suffer from them.

The burden of responsibility was always there, he could never lay

it down for a single moment. I remember on one occasion, when I was

frantic because he always had to have everything referred to him

for decision, even when he was ill, he said that other leaders,

even Prime Ministers, could delegate their powers for at least a

short time if they were forced to, but that he could not delegate

his for a single moment as long as he was alive. No one else was

divinely guided to fulfill his function and he could not delegate

his guidance to someone else.

Although World War II did not actually reach the Holy Land, for

years we lived in the imminent danger that it might do so at any


In November 1941, Shoghi Effendi, in a cabled message had forecast

the future and characterized the years immediately before us: "...

as fury destructiveness tremendous world ordeal attains most

intensive pitch..." In spite of what lay ahead of the world we

in Palestine had already, during 1941, passed through what for us

were the most agonizing months of the entire war which had caused

the Guardian intense anxiety. It was during that year that the

abortive revolution of the anti-ally Rashfd 'Ali took place in

'Iraq; the British forces were persistently driven back by General

Rommel in
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Libya and the Germans eventually (in 1942) reached the gates of

Alexandria; the Nazi forces occupied Crete -- a second springboard

for their contemplated conquest of the Middle East; and British and

French forces invaded the Lebanon and ousted the regime controlled

by the Vichy Government in that country. In addition to these all

too palpable dangers the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the enemy of

both the Faith and the Guardian, was the firm ally of the Nazi

Government. It does not require much imagination to picture what

would have happened to Shoghi Effendi and the Shrines, the World

Centre records and archives material, if a victorious German army,

accompanied by the scheming and vituperative Mufti, had taken

Palestine. Many times Shoghi Effendi said that it was not so much

a question of what the Germans would do but the fact that there

were so many local enemies who, combining with the Mufti, could

completely poison the minds of the Germans against him and thus

aggravate a situation already dangerous enough since our Baha'i

ideas were in many respects so inimical to the Nazi ideology.

Throughout the years of the war Shoghi Effendi was in a position

to maintain his contact with the mass of the believers in those

countries where some of the oldest and most populous Bahá'í communities

existed, such as Persia, America, India and Great Britain,

as well as the new and rapidly growing centres in Latin America.

The relatively small communities in Japan, the European countries,

Burma, and for a time 'Iraq, were the only ones cut off from him -- a

severance that grieved him and caused him much concern for their

fate. Because of this little-short-of-miraculous manner in which

contact was maintained with the body of believers throughout the

Bahá'í world Shoghi Effendi was able not only to send his

directives to the various National Assemblies, but to indicate what

this great war signified to us as Baha'is. In his epistle known as

The Promised Day Is Come he stated that "Gods purpose is none other

than to usher in, in ways He alone can bring about, and the full

significance of which He alone can fathom, the Great, the Golden

Age of a long-divided, a long-afflicted humanity. Its present

state, indeed even its immediate future, is dark, distressingly

dark. Its distant future, however, is radiant, gloriously

radiant -- so radiant that no eye can visualize it ... The ages of

its infancy and childhood are past, never again to return, while

the Great Age, the consummation of all ages, which must signalize

the coming of age of the entire human race, is yet to come. The

convulsions of this transitional and most turbulent period in the

annals of humanity are the essential
Page 74

prerequisites, and herald the inevitable approach, of that Age of

Ages, 'the time of the end', in which the folly and tumult of

strife that has, since the dawn of history, blackened the annals

of mankind, will have been finally transmuted into the wisdom and

the tranquility of an undisturbed, a universal, and lasting peace,

in which the discord and separation of the children of men will

have given way to the world-wide reconciliation, and the complete

unification of the divers elements that constitute human society

... It is this stage which humanity, willingly or unwillingly,

is resistlessly approaching. It is for this stage that this vast,

this fiery ordeal which humanity is experiencing is mysteriously

paving the way."

So great was the relief and joy of the Guardian when the European

phase of the war ended in May 1945 that he cabled America:

"Followers Bahá'u'lláh throughout five continents unanimously re -

joice partial emergence war torn humanity titanic upheaval" and

expressed what lay so deeply in his heart: "gratefully acclaim

signal evidence interposition divine Providence which during such

perilous years enabled World Centre our Faith escape..." and

went on to express an equal thanksgiving for the manner in which

other communities had been miraculously preserved, recapitulating

the truly extraordinary victories won for the Faith during and in

spite of the war. On August 20, 1945, he again cabled: "Hearts

uplifted thanksgiving complete cessation prolonged unprecedented

world conflict" and urged the American believers to arise and carry

on their work, hailing the removal of restrictions which would now

enable them to launch the second stage of the Divine Plan. Nothing

could provide a better example of the determination, the enthusiasm

and the brilliant leadership of the Guardian than these messages

sent on the morrow of the emergence of the world from the worst war

in its entire history.

Whatever the state of the rest of the world, the internal situation

in Palestine continued to worsen in every respect. The holocaust

that had engulfed European Jewry; the bitterness induced amongst

the Palestine Jews by British policy in regard to Jewish immigration,

which was strictly limited and controlled; the burning

resentment of the Arabs against that same policy -- all served to

increase local tensions and hatred. Many of the hardships from

which other countries were beginning to slowly emerge, such )I_s

severe food rationing, we were now entering. Everything was

difficult. We were no longer in danger of being invaded or bombed,

but the outlook for this small but sacred country grew steadily

blacker as we entered
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that period which was characterized by Shoghi Effendi as "the

gravest turmoil rocking the Holy Land in modern times."

Shoghi Effendi was exhausted from the strain of the war years,

years during which he had not only written The Promised Day Is Come

and God Passes By, but during which he had prosecuted -- for who can

deny his was the ceaseless output of enthusiasm, encouragement and

energy that galvanized the Bahá'ís into action? -- five years of the

first Seven Year Plan, during which he had comforted, inspired and

held the Bahá'í world together, during which he had steadily

enlarged the periphery of the Cause and deepened and expanded the

life of its National communities, during which the unique project

of building the superstructure of the Báb's Shrine had been

initiated, and during which the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, including

his own family, had been hopelessly lost to him. He was now

approaching fifty, his hair whitening at the temples, his shoulders

bent from so much stooping over his desk, his heart not only

saddened by all he had gone through but, I firmly believe, wearing

out because of it.

As the British Mandate approached its end on May 14,1948 the

situation in Palestine grew steadily worse. The entire country

boiled with apprehension and hatred and acts of terrorism increased

steadily. The Arabs, the Jews and the British were all involved;

all three of them were well aware of the complete aloofness of the

Guardian from the political issues at stake and it is no exaggeration

to say he was universally respected -- and let alone. This

is a fact of major importance for during the years, and

particularly the months, preceding the end of the Mandate there was

practically no neutral ground left; Jews paid for the defense of

the Jewish community and Arabs paid for the defense of the Arab

community. That the Guardian should have been able to steer the

small Bahá'í community safely through the dangerous rapids of those

days, that he himself should not have been approached for funds to

support the cause of his fellow Orientals (who all knew he had been

born and bred in the country), testify to the high reputation he

had established as a man of unbending principle and iron


Many times Shoghi Effendi referred to the miraculous protection the

World Centre received during the disturbed and dangerous period of

the end of the British Mandate and the firm establishment of the

Jewish State. The very list of the dangers avoided and the

achievements witnessed during this period -- which he enumerated in

a cable sent to the American Bahá'í Convention on April 25,

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1949 -- is sufficient to enable us to glimpse the keenness of the

anxiety he had experienced and the gravity of the problems with

which he had been faced. The published version of this cable

pointed out how great had been the "evidences divine protection

vouchsafed World Centre Faith course third year second Seven Year

Plan" and went on to say: "Prolonged hostilities ravaging Holy Land

providentially terminated. Bahá'í Holy Places unlike those

belonging other faiths miraculously safeguarded. Perils no less

grave than those threatened World Centre Faith under 'Abdu'l-Hamid

Jamal Pasha and through Hitler's intended capture Near East

averted. Independent sovereign State within confines Holy Land

established recognized marking termination twenty-century-long

provincial status. Formal assurance protection Bahá'í holy sites

continuation Bahá'í pilgrimage given by Prime Minister newly

emerged State. Official invitation extended by its government

historic occasion opening State's first parliament. Official record

Bahá'í marriage endorsed Bahá'í endowments exempted responsible

authorities same State. Best wishes future welfare Faith

Bahá'u'lláh conveyed writing by newly elected Head State in reply

congratulatory message addressed him assumption his office."

In the post-war years, as the victories the Bahá'ís were winning

multiplied and the United Nations -- the mightiest instrument for

creating peace that men had ever devised -- emerged, many of us no

doubt hoped, and wishfully believed, that we had left the worst

phase of humanity's long history of war behind us and that we could

now discern the first light of that dawn we Bahá'ís are so firmly

convinced lies ahead for the world. But the sober, guided mind of

the Guardian did not see events in this light. Until the end of his

life he continued to make the same remark, based on Bahá'u'lláh's

own words, that he had so often made before the war: "The distant

future is very bright, but the immediate future is very dark."

Among the encouraging messages he so frequently sent to the Baha'is

all over the world, his praises of the wonderful services they were

rendering, his plans which he devised in such detail for them to

prosecute, ever and anon the note of foreboding and warning would

recur. In 1947 he stated that the Bahá'ís had thus far been

graciously aided to follow their course "undeflected by the crosscurrents

and the tempestuous winds which must of necessity

increasingly agitate human society ere the hour of its ultimate

redemption approaches..." In that communication, urging the

American Community to press forward with the supremely

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important work of its second Seven Year Plan, he spoke of the future:

"As the international situation worsens, as the fortunes of mankind

sink to a still lower ebb ... As the fabric of present-day

society heaves and cracks under the strain and stress of portentous

events and calamities, as the fissures, accentuating the cleavage

separating nation from nation, class from class, race from race,

and creed from creed, multiply..." Far from having rounded the

corner and turned our backs forever on our unhappy past, there was

"a steadily deepening crisis" . In March 1948 he went still further

in a conversation I recorded in my diary: "Tonight Shoghi Effendi

told me some very interesting things: roughly, he said that to say

that there was not going to be another war, in the light of present

conditions, was foolish, and to say that if there was another war

the Atom Bomb would not be used was also foolish. So we must

believe there probably will be a war and it will be used and there

will be terrific destruction. But the Bahá'ís will, he felt, emerge

to form the nucleus of the future world civilization. He said it

was not right to say the good would perish with the bad because in

a sense all are bad, all humanity is to blame, for ignoring and

repudiating Bahá'u'lláh after He had repeatedly trumpeted to

everyone His Message. He said the saints in the monasteries and the

sinners in the worst flesh pots of Europe are all wicked because

they have rejected the Truth. He said it was wrong to think, as

some of the Bahá'ís do, that the good would perish with the evil,

all men are evil because they have repudiated God in this day and

turned from Him. He said we can only believe that in some

mysterious way, in spite of the terrible destruction, enough will

be left over to build the future."

In November of that same year, again encouraging the American

believers to persevere with their Plan, he wrote: "As the threat

of still more violent convulsions assailing a travailing age

increases, and the wings of yet another conflict, destined to

contribute a distinct, and perhaps a decisive, share to the birth

of the new Order which must signalize the advent of the Lesser

Peace, darken the international horizon ... Rumblings of

catastrophes yet more dreadful agitate with increasing frequency

a sorely stressed and chaotic world ... so must every aggravation

in the state of a world still harassed by the ravages of a

devastating conflict, and now hovering on the brink of a yet more

crucial struggle, be accompanied by a still more ennobling

manifestation of the spirit of this second crusade ...' In that

same month he referred to "The deepening crisis ominously

threatening further to derange the equilibrium of a

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politically convulsed, economically disrupted, socially subverted,

morally decadent and spiritually moribund society". He went on to

speak of the "premonitory rumblings of a third ordeal threatening

to engulf the Eastern and Western Hemispheres" and said, "the world

outlook is steadily darkening." He urged the Bahá'ís to "forge

ahead into the future serenely confident that the hour of their

mightiest exertions, and the supreme opportunity for their greatest

exploits, must coincide with the apocalyptic upheaval marking the

lowest ebb in mankind's fast-declining fortunes."

It went on and on. The victories we won, the praise, the encouragement,

joy of the Guardian -- and the warnings. In 1950 he told the

Bahá'ís they should be "undaunted" by the perils of a "progressively

deteriorating international situation" and in 1951 informed

the European Teaching Conference that the "perils" confronting that

"sorely tried continent" were "steadily mounting". But it was

really in a most grave and thought-provoking letter, written in

1954, that Shoghi Effendi expatiated on this subject of a future

conflict, its causes, its course, its outcome, and its effect on

America, in more detail and in a more forceful language than he

had ever before used. He associates the "crass" and "cancerous

materialism" prevalent in the world today with the warnings of

Bahá'u'lláh and states He had compared it "to a devouring flame"

and regarded 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 goes on to say: "Indeed a foretaste

of the devastation which this consuming fire will wreak upon the

world, and with which it will lay waste the cities of the nations

participating in this tragic worldengulfing contest, has been

afforded by the last World War, marking the second stage in the

global havoc which humanity, forgetful of its God and heedless of

the clear warnings uttered by His appointed Messenger for this day,

must, alas, inevitably experience."

The letter in which these appalling predictions are expressed was

addressed to the American Bahá'ís and in it the Guardian points out

that the general deterioration in the situation of a "distracted

world" and the multiplication of increasingly destructive armaments,

to which the two sides engaged in a world contest were contributing --

"caught in a whirlpool of fear, suspicion and hatred"

as they were -- were ever-increasingly affecting their own country

and were bound, if not remedied, "to involve the American nation

in a catastrophe of undreamed-of dimensions and of untold

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consequences to the social structure, the standard and conception of the

American people and government ... The American nation ...

stands, indeed, from whichever angle one observes its immediate

fortunes, in grave peril. The woes and tribulations which threaten

it are partly avoidable, but mostly inevitable and God-sent..."

He went on to point out the changes which these unavoidable afflictions

must bring about in the "obsolescent doctrine of absolute

sovereignty" to which its government and people still clung and

which was so "manifestly at variance with the needs of a world

already contracted into a neighbourhood and crying out for unity"

and through which this nation will find itself purged of its anachronistic

conceptions and prepared to play the great role 'Abdu'l-Bahá foretold for it in the establishment of the Lesser Peace. The "fiery tribulations" to come would not only "weld the American

nation to its sister nations in both hemispheres" but would cleanse

it of "the accumulated dross which ingrained racial prejudice, rampant

materialism, widespread ungodliness and moral laxity have

combined, in the course of successive generations, to produce, and

which have prevented her thus far from assuming the role of world

spiritual leadership forecast by 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í unerring pen -- a

role which she is bound to fulfill through travail and sorrow."

If we, the generation of the twilight before the sun of this new

day rises, ask ourselves why such catastrophes should be facing us

in these times, the answers all are there, made crystal clear by

the Guardian in his great expositions of the meaning and

implications of our teachings. Two factors, he taught us, are

involved. The first is contained in those words of Bahá'u'lláh,

"Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new onespread

outin itsstead. " To tear off the time-honoured protective covering

of innumerable societies, each embedded in its own customs,

superstitions and prejudices, and apply to them a universal new

frame of existence is an operation only Almighty God can perform

and of necessity a very painful one. This is made even more painful

by the state of men's souls and minds; some societies are the

victims of "a flagrant secularism -- the direct offspring of

irreligion", some are in the grip of "a blatant materialism and

racialism" which have, Shoghi Effendi stated, "usurped the rights

of God Himself", but all -- all the peoples of the earth -- are guilty

of having, for over a century, "refused to recognize the One Whose

advent had been promised to all religions, and in Whose Faith

alone, all nations can and must eventually, seek their true

salvation." Fundamentally it was because of this new

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Faith, the "priceless gem of Divine Revelation enshrining the

Spirit of God and incarnating His Purpose for all mankind in this

age" as Shoghi Effendi described it, that the world was "undergoing

such agonies". Bahá'u'lláh Himself had said:

"The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating

inff'uence of this mostgreat, this new World Order. " "The signs

of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch

as the prevailing Order appeareth to be lamentably defective. "

"The world is in travail and its agitation waxeth day by day. lts

face is turned towards waywardnessand unbelief. Suchshaube its

plight that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its

perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come,

there shausuddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of

mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be

unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody. "

"After a time, all the governments on earth will change. Oppression

will envelop the world. And following a universal convulsion, the

sun of justice will rise from the horizon of the unseen realm."

So thrilling, however, is the vision of the future which Shoghi

Effendi painted for us in his brilliant words, that it wipes away

all fear and fills the heart of every Bahá'í with such confidence

and joy that the prospect of any amount of suffering and

deprivation cannot weaken his faith or crush his hopes. "The world

is, in truth," Shoghi Effendi wrote, "moving on towards its

destiny. The interdependence of the peoples and nations of the

earth, whatever the leaders of the divisive forces of the world may

say or do, is already an accomplished fact." The world

commonwealth, "destined to emerge, sooner or later, out of the

carnage, agony, and havoc of this great world confusion" was the

assured consummation of the working of these forces. First would

come the Lesser Peace, which the nations of the earth, as yet

unconscious of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, would themselves

establish; "This momentous and historic step, involving the

reconstruction of mankind, as the result of the universal recognition

of its oneness and wholeness, will bring in its wake the

spiritualization of the masses, consequent to the recognition of

the character, and the acknowledgement of the claims, of the Faith

of Bahá'u'lláh -- the essential condition to that ultimate fusion of

all races, creeds, classes, and nations which must signalize the

Page 81

emergence of His New World Order." He goes on to state: "Then will

the coming of age of the entire human race be proclaimed and

celebrated by all the peoples and nations of the earth. Then will

the banner of the Most Great Peace be hoisted. Then will the

worldwide sovereignty of Bahá'u'lláh ... be recognized, acclaimed,

and firmly established. Then will a world civilization be born,

flourish, and perpetuate itself, a civilization with a fullness of

life such as the world has never seen nor can as yet conceive...

Then will the planet, galvanized through the universal belief of

its dwellers in one God, and their allegiance to one common Revelation,

... be ... acclaimed as the earthly heaven, capable of

fulfilling that ineffable destiny fixed for it, from time

immemorial, by the love and wisdom of its Creator."

Page 83

In an age when people play football with words, kicking them right

and left indiscriminately withno respect for either their meaning

or correct usage, the style of Shoghi Effendi stands out in

dazzling beauty. His joy in words was one of his strongest personal

characteristics, whether he wrote in English -- the language he had

given his heart to -- or in the mixture of Persian and Arabic he used

in his general letters to the East. Although he was so simple in

his personal tastes he had an innate love of richness which is

manifest in the way he arranged and decorated various Bahá'í Holy

Places, in the style of the Shrine of the Báb, in his preferences

in architecture and in his choice and combination of words. Of him

it could be said, in the words of another great writer, Macaulay,

that "he wrote in language ... precise and luminous." Unlike so

many people Shoghi Effendi wrote what he meant and meant exactly

what he wrote. It is impossible to eliminate any word from one of

his sentences without sacrificing part of the meaning, so concise,

so pithy is his style. A book like God Passes By is a veritable

essence of essences; from this single hundred-year history, fifty

books could easily be written and none of them would be superficial

or lacking in material, so rich is the source provided by the

Guardian, so condensed his treatment of it.

The language in which Shoghi Effendi wrote, whether for the

Bahá'ís of the West or the East, has set a standard which should

effectively prevent them from descending to the level of illiterate

literates which often so sadly characterizes the present generation

as far as the usage and appreciation of words is concerned. He

never compromised with the ignorance of his readers but expected

them, in their thirst for knowledge, to overcome their ignorance.

Shoghi Effendi chose, to the best of his great ability, the right

vehicle for his thought and it made no difference to him whether

the average
Page 84

person was going to know the word he used or not. After all, what

one does not know one can find out. Although he had such a brilliant

command of language, he frequently reinforced his knowledge

by certainty through looking up the word he planned to use in

Webster's big dictionary. In his translations of the Baha'i

writings, and above all in his own compositions, Shoghi Effendi set

a standard that educates and raises the cultural level of the

reader at the same time that it feeds his mind and soul with

thoughts and truth.

I remember once Shoghi Effendi giving me an article to read from

a British newspaper which called attention to the bureaucratic

language which is developing, particularly in the United States,

in which more and more words are used to convey less and less and

merely produce confusion confounded. Shoghi Effendi heartily

supported the article! Words were very precise instruments to him.

I also recall a particularly beautiful distinction he made in

speaking to some pilgrims in the Western Pilgrim House. He said:

"we are orthodox, but not fanatical."

Many times the language of the Guardian soared to great poetic

heights. Witness such passages as these that shine with the brilliance

of cathedral glass: "We behold, as we survey the episodes

of this first act of a sublime drama, the figure of its Master

Hero, the Báb, arise meteor-like above the horizon of Shiraz,

traverse the sombre sky of Persia from South to North, decline with

tragic swiftness, and perish in a blaze of glory. We see His

satellites, aalaxy of God-intoxicated heroes, mount above that same

horizoradiate that same incandescent light, burn themselves out

with that selfsame swiftness, and impart in their turn an added

impetus to the steadily gathering momentum of God's nascent Faith."

He called the Báb "that youthful Prince of Glory" and describes the

scene of His entombment on Mt. Carmel: "when all was finished, and

the earthly remains of the Martyr-Prophet of Shiraz were, at long

last, safely deposited for their everlasting rest in the bosom of

God's holy mountain, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who had cast aside His turban,

removed His shoes and thrown off His cloak, bent low over the still

open sarcophagus, His silver hair waving about His head and His

face transfigured and luminous, rested His forehead on the border

of the wooden casket, and, sobbing aloud, wept with such a weeping

that all those who were present wept with Him." "The second period

... derives its inspiration from the august figure of Bahá'u'lláh,

pre-eminent in holiness, awesome in the majesty of His strength and

power, unapproachable in the transcendent
Page 85

brightness of His glory. " "Amidst the shadows that are

increasingly gathering about us we can discern the glimmerings of

Bahá'u'lláh's unearthly sovereignty appearing fitfully on the

horizon of history." Or these words addressed to the Greatest Holy

Leaf: "In the innermost recesses of our hearts, O Thou exalted Leaf

of the Abha Paradise, we have reared for thee a shining mansion

that the hand of time can never undermine, a shrine which shall

frame eternally the matchless beauty of thy countenance, an altar

whereon the fire of thy consuming love shall burn for ever. " Or

these words painting a picture of the punishment of God in this

day: "On the high seas, in the air, on land, in the forefront of

battle, in the palaces of kings and the cottages of peasants, in

the most hallowed sanctuaries, whether secular or religious, the

evidences of God's retributive act and mysterious discipline are

manifest. Its heavy toll is steadily mounting -- a holocaust sparing

neither prince nor peasant, neither man nor woman, neither young

nor old." Or these words concerning the attitude of the true

servants of the Cause: "Of such men and women it may be truly said

that to them 'every foreign land is a fatherland, and every

fatherland a foreign land'. or their citizenship ... is in the

Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh. Though willing to share to the utmost the

temporal benefits and the fleeting joys which this earthly life

can confer, though eager to participate in whatever activity that

conduces to the richness, the happiness and peace of that life,

they can at no time forget that it constitutes no more than a

transient, a very brief stage of their existence, that they who

live it are but pilgrims and wayfarers whose goal is the Celestial

City, and whose home the Country of never-failing joy and


There are so many aspects to Shoghi Effendi's literary life. I

can name on one hand the books (other than his beloved Gibbon) he

read for recreation during the twenty years I was with him, though

he had read during his youth very extensively on many subjects.

This is no doubt because of the fact that by 1937, when I took up

my new life in Haifa, he was already overwhelmed by the ever-

increasing amount of material he had to read in connection with his

work, such as news-letters, National Assembly minutes, circulars

and mail. By the end of his life if he did not read at least two

or three hours a day he could no longer keep up with his work at

all; he read on planes, trains, in gardens, at table when we were

away from Haifa and in Haifa hour after hour at his desk, until he

would get so tired he would go to bed and sit up reading there. He

assiduously kept abreast of the political news and trends of the

Page 86

The supreme importance of Shoghi Effendi's English translations

and communications can never be sufficiently stressed because of

his function as sole and authoritative interpreter of the Sacred

Writings, appointed as such by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will. There are

many instances when, owing to the looseness of construction in

Persian sentences, there could be an ambiguity in the mind of the

reader regarding the meaning. Careful and correct English, not

lending itself to ambiguity in the first place, became, when

coupled with Shoghi Effendi's brilliant mind and his power as

interpreter of the Holy Word, what we might well call the

crystallizing vehicle of the teachings. Often by referring to

Shoghi Effendi's translation into English the original meaning of

the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, or 'Abdu'l-Bahá becomes clear and is thus

safeguarded against misinterpretation in the future. He was

meticulous in translating and made absolutely sure that the words

he was using in English conveyed and did not depart from the original

thought nor the original words. One would have to have a mastery

of Persian and Arabic to correctly understand what he did. For

instance in reading the original one finds that one word in Arabic

was susceptible of being translated into two or more words in

English; thus Shoghi Effendi, in the construction of his English

sentences, might use "power", "strength" and "might" alternatively

to replace this one word, choosing the exact nuance of meaning that

would fit best, do away with reiteration, and lend most colour to

his translation without sacrificing the true meaning, indeed,

thereby enhancing the true meaning. Once -- only once, alas, in our

busy, harassed life -- Shoghi Effendi said to me that I now knew

enough Persian to understand the original and he read a paragraph

of one of Bahá'u'lláh's Tablets and said, "How can one translate

that into English?" For about two hours we tried, that is he tried

and I feebly followed him. When I would suggest a sentence, which

did convey the meaning, Shoghi Effendi said "Ah, but that is not

translation! You cannot change and leave out words in the original

and just put what you think it means in English." He pointed out

a translator must be absolutely faithful to his original text and

that in some cases this meant that what came out in another

language was ugly and even meaningless. As Bahá'u'lláh is always

sublimely beautiful in His words this could not be done.

The Guardian was exceedingly cautious in everything that concerned

the original Word and would never explain or comment on a text

submitted to him in English (when it was not his own

Page 87

translation) until he had verified it with the original. He was very

careful of the words he used in commenting on various events in the

Faith, refusing, for instance, to designate a person a

martyr -- which is a station -- just because they were slain, and

sometimes designating as martyrs people who were not killed but the

nature of whose death he associated with martyrdom.

Another highly important aspect of the divinely-conferred position

Shoghi Effendi held of interpreter of the Teachings was that

he had not only protected the Sacred Word from being misconstrued

but that he also carefully preserved the relationship and importance

of different aspects of the Teachings to each other and

safeguarded the rightful station of each of the three Central

Figures of the Faith. An interesting example of this is reflected

in a letter of A. L. M. Nicolas, the French scholar who translated

the Bayan of the Báb into French and who might correctly be

described as a Babi. For many years he was under the impression

that the Bahá'ís had ignored the greatness and belittled the

station of the Báb. When he discovered that Shoghi Effendi in his

writings exalted the Báb, perpetuated His memory through a book

such as Nabil's Narrative, and repeatedly translated His words into

English, his attitude completely changed. In a letter to one of the

old believers in France he wrote: "Now I can die quietly ...

Glory to Shoghi Effendi who has calmed my torment and my anxiety,

glory to him who recognizes the worth of Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad

called the Báb. I am so content that I kiss your hands which traced

my address on the envelope which brought me the message of Shoghi.

Thank you, Mademoiselle, thank you from the bottom of my heart."

One of the earliest acts of Shoghi Effendi's ministry was to begin

circulating his translations of the holy Writings. One year and ten

days after the reading of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í Will we find him writing

to the American National Assembly: "It is a great pleasure for me

to share with you the translation of some of the prayers and

Tablets of our beloved Master..." and he goes on to add that he

trusts "that in the course of time I will be enabled to send you

regularly correct and reliable translations ... which will unfold

to your eyes a new vision of His Glorious Mission ... and give

you an insight into the character and meaning of His Divine


The writing, translation and promulgation of Bahá'í books was one

of the Guardian's major interests, one he never tired of and one

he actively supported. The ideal situation is for local and

national communities to pay for their own activities, but in this

Page 88

Age of our Faith the Guardian fully realized this was not always

possible and from the funds at his disposal he assisted

substantially throughout the years in financing the translation and

publication of Bahá'í literature. In periods of emergency, when the

attainment of cherished goals was at stake, Shoghi Effendi would

fill the breach.

Literature in all languages the Guardian collected in Haifa,

placing books in his own library, in the two Pilgrim House

libraries, in the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji, and in the

International Archives. In this connection it is interesting to

note how he placed them, for I never saw it done before: he would

have, say, a lot of rather dull bindings, of some inexpensive

edition, in grey and a lot more in blue or some other colour. With

these he would fill his bookshelves in patterns, five red, two

blue, five red and so on, using the variation in colour and number

to add charm to the general effect of a book case that otherwise

would have presented a monotonous and uninteresting appearance.

Facts and events are more or less useless unless seen in the proper

perspective, unless vision is applied to their interpretation. One

of the marked aspects of Shoghi Effendi's genius was the way he

plucked the significance of an occurrence, an isolated phenomenon,

from the welter of irrelevancies associated with the international

development of the Cause and set it in its historical frame,

focussing on it the light of his appraising mind and making us

understand what was taking place and what it signified now and

forever. This was not a static thing, a picture of shapes and

forms, but rather a description of where a leviathan was moving in

an ocean -- the leviathan of the co-ordinated movements inside the

Community of Bahá'u'lláh's followers moving in the ocean of His

Dispensation. An Assembly was formed, someone died, a certificate

was granted by some obscure governmental body -- in themselves

isolated facts and events -- but to Shoghi Effendi's eyes they were

part of a pattern and he made us see this pattern being woven

before our eyes too. In the volumes of The Bahá'í World the

Guardian did this not only for the believers, but for the public

at large. He dramatized the progress of the Faith and a mass of

scattered facts and unrelated photographs were made to testify to

the reality of the claim of that Faith to be world-wide and all-


It is interesting to note that the actual suggestion for a volume

along the lines of The Bah" World came to Shoghi Effendi from

Horace Holley in a letter he wrote in February 1921 though I have

no doubt that it was the breadth of vision of the young Guardian

Page 89

and the shape he was already giving to the work of the Cause in his

messages to the West that, working on Horace's own creative mind,

stimulated him to this concept. Shoghi Effendi seized on this idea

and from then on Horace became Shoghi Effendi's primary instrument,

as a gifted writer, and in his capacity as Secretary of the

American National Spiritual Assembly, in making of The Bahá'í World

the remarkable and unique book it became. Volume One, published in

1925 and called Bahá'í Year Book -- which covered the period from

April 1925 to April 1926 and comprised 174 pages -- received its

permanent title, in Volume Two, of The Bahá'í World, A Biennial

International Record suggested by that National Assembly and

approved by Shoghi Effendi. At the time of the Guardian's passing

twelve volumes had appeared, the largest running to over 1,000

pages. Although these were prepared under the supervision of the

American National Assembly, published by its Publishing Committee,

compiled by a staff of editors and dedicated to Shoghi Effendi, it

would be more in conformity with the facts to call them Shoghi

Effendi's Book. He himself acted as Editor-in-Chief; the tremendous

amount of material comprised in each volume was sent to him by the

American Assembly, with all photographs, before it appeared and his

was the final decision as to what should go in and what be omitted.

As six of these books were published during the period I was

privileged to be with him I was able to observe how he edited them.

With his infinite capacity for work Shoghi Effendi would go over

the vast bundles of papers and photographs forwarded to him,

eliminating the poorer and more irrelevant material; section by

section, following the Table of Contents which he himself had

arranged, would be prepared and set aside until the entire

manuscript was ready to be mailed back to America for publication.

He always deplored the fact that the material was not of a higher

standard. It is due solely to his determination and perseverance

that The Bahá'í World volumes are as brilliant and impressive as

they are. The editors (some of whom he had nominated himself),

struggling against the forces of inertia that beset any body trying

to achieve its ends through correspondence with sources thousands

of miles away, and seeking to work through often inexperienced and

inefflcient administrative organs, would never have been successful

in assembling the material required without the drive and authority

of the Guardian behind their efforts. An interesting side light on

this work is that Shoghi Effendi, after the book was published, had

all the original
Page 90

manuscripts returned to Haifa and stored at the World Centre.

As soon as one volume was published he began to himself collect

material for the next one. In addition to the repeated reminders

he sent to the American National Assembly to do likewise, he sent

innumerable letters and cables to different Assemblies and

individuals. In one day, for instance, he cabled three National

Assemblies: "National Assembly photograph for Bahá'í World

essential"; he cabled such an isolated and out-of-the-way outpost

as Shanghai for material he wanted. "Bahá'í World manuscript

mailed. Advise speedy careful publication" was not an unusual type

of message for the American Assembly to receive. It was Shoghi

Effendi who arranged the order of the volume, had typed in Haifa

the entire Table of Contents, had all the photographs titled, chose

all the frontispieces, decided on the colour of the binding of the

volume to appear, and above all gave exact instructions, in long

detailed letters to Horace Holley, whom he himself had chosen as

the most gifted and informed person to write the International

Survey of Current Bahá'í Activities, to which he attached great


What Shoghi Effendi himself thought of The Bahá'í World he put down

in writing. As early as 1927, when only one volume had been

published, he wrote to a non-Baha'i: "I would strongly advise you

to procure a copy of the Bahá'í Year Book ... which will give you

a clear and authoritative statement of the purpose, the claim and

the influence of the Faith." In a general letter addressed, in

1928, "To the beloved of the Lord and the hand-maids of the

Merciful throughout the East and West", and entirely devoted to the

subject of The Bahá'í World, Shoghi Effendi informs them: "I have

ever since its inception taken a keen and sustained interest in

its development, have personally participated in the collection of

its material, the arrangement of its contents, and the close

scrutiny of whatever data it contains. I confidently and

emphatically recommend it to every thoughtful and eager follower

of the Faith, whether in the East or in the West..." He wrote

that its material is readable, attractive, comprehensive and

authoritative; its treatment of the fundamentals of the Cause

concise and persuasive, and its illustrations thoroughly

representative; it is unexcelled and unapproached by any other

Bahá'í publication of its kind. This book Shoghi Effendi

alwaysvisualized as being -- indeed he designed it to be eminently

suitable for the public, for scholars, to place in libraries and

as a means, as he put it, of "removing the malicious misrepresentations

and unfortunate misunderstandings that have so
Page 91

long and so grievously clouded the luminous Faith of


It was a book that he himself often gave as a gift to royalty,

to statesmen, to professors, universities, newspaper editors and

nonBahá'ís in general, mailing it to them with his simple personal

card "Shoghi Rabbani" enclosed.

It is difficult to realize, looking back upon Shoghi Effendi's

achievements, that he actually wrote only one book of his own, as

such, and this was God Passes By published in 1944. Even The

Promised Day Is Come, written in 1941, is a 136-page-10ng general

letter to the Bahá'ís of the West. This fact alone is a profound

indication of the deeply modest character of the man. He communicated

with the Bahá'ís because he had something to say that was

important, because he was appointed to guide them, because he was

the Custodian of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh; he was impelled by

forces stronger than himself over which he had no control.

Concurrent with the period when these first illuminating letters

on such major subjects were streaming from the pen of Shoghi

Effendi, he undertook the translation of two books. In a letter

written on July 4, 1930, Shoghi Effendi says: "I feel exceedingly

tired after a strenuous year of work particularly as I have managed

to add to my labours the translation of the fqan, which I have

already sent to America." This was the first of his major

translations, Bahá'u'lláh's great exposition on the station and role of

the Manifestations of God, more particularly in the light of

Islamic teachings and prophecies, known as the Kitábi-Iqan or Book

of Certitude. It was an invaluable adjunct to the Western Baha'is

in their study of the Faith they had embraced and infinitely

enriched their understanding of Divine Revelation.

During that same year the Guardian began work on the second book

published during this period, a work that was neither a 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 Baha'i

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.

Page 92

ostensibly a translation from the original Persian, Shoghi Effendi

may be said to have recreated it in English, his translation being

comparable to Fitzgerald's rendering of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat

which gave the world a poem in a foreign language that in many ways

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-Baha'is. The playwright Gordon Bottomley

wrote: "... Living 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: "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

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 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

Page 93

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 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

In 1935 Shoghi Effendi again presented the western Bahá'ís with

3 L a magnificent gift, published under the title Gleanings from

the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, which the Guardian himself described

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 the 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. 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." p M L 37 This was followed by the translation

in 1936-1937, of what might almost be termed a companion volume,

comparable in richness and complementary in material, namely,

Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh.

Immediately after the publication of this diamond-mine of communion

with God, unsurpassed in any religious literature of the J 3

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. With a kind but firm hand Shoghi

Effendi held up before the face of the North American Community

Page 94

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 to the 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 TheAdventof

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 quake."; "The

day is approaching when its (civilization's) 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,

where on they will cryout 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,
Page 95

verily, will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous

afflictions to assailyoufrom 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 committed haye been blottedfrom 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 recognize the One Whose advent had

been promised to all religions". Shoghi Effendi recapitulates the

sufferings, the persecution, the calumny and cruelty to which the

Bab, 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."

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 Lbs

of Bahá'u'lláh, undertaken during

1940, at another of the most difficult and hazardous periods of his life.

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.

God Passes By, the most brilliant and wondrous tale of a century

that has ever been told, is truly a "Mother" of future histories,

Page 96

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 snow flake

crystals, each design perfect in itself, each theme brilliant in

outline, coordinated, balanced, self-contained, a matrix for those

who follow on and study, evaluate and elaborate the Message and

Order of Bahá'u'lláh. It was one of the most concentrated and

stupendous achievements of Shoghi Effendi's life.

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

Baha'is, 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 decide, in the light of relevant material, between this date

given in one place and that date given in another, how backbreaking

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."

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

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in His native land and began the composition of another memorial,

written in Persian and Arabic, to the first hundred years of

the Bahá'í Faith. This was a comparable, though shorter version of

the same subject, different in nature but no less splendid in both

the facts it presented and the brilliancy of its language.

For thne_tthilL Effendi neither translated nor wrote any more

books. It is our great loss thai no longer had the D:hinternational

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.

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

Bab, '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 the West; and, above all, a masterly

orientation of thought towards the concepts enshrined in the

teachings of the Faith and orderly classification 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 99

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-iAqdas; 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 those of a few Baha'is. So insecure was the entire legal

position of the Faith and its properties that the work Shoghi

Effendi accomplished 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
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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 judgement and respect. A new day had come

to the Cause, new methods were required. 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 Holy 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 saintly 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 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 for the

Cause as a world religion entitled to the same status and

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prerogatives that other religions such as Christianity, Islam and

Judaism, enjoyed.

During the first two decades of his ministry 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 1927 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.

By April 1932 the pilgrims were privileged to sleep overnight in

this historic and Sacred Spot and its doors were opened to nonBahá'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.

Ever mindful of what was to him the deepest trust of his Guar-

dianship -- to fulfil to the letter insofar 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

Bab. 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

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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 on the velvety

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'lBaha

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 1898-1899, this precious casket was already concealed in

the Master's home, its presence a carefully guarded secret.

One day in 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 Fore-
Page 103

runner of the Faith, the ultimate task was to fall to Shoghi


In everything Shoghi Effendi did he was guided by what 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


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. 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 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.

Having tried my father on various small projects and found him

Page 104

far from wanting, suddenly -- I think it was towards the end of

1942 -- Shoghi Effendi told him he wished him to make 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


In the Oriental Bahá'í Pilgrim House, during the afternoon

meeting on May 23, 1944 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: "...

Announce friends joyful tidings hundredth anniversary Declaration

Mission Martyred Herald Faith signalized by historic decision to

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 this project

slipped relatively noiselessly into existence and no more was heard

of it until on April 11,1946, 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:

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.

Page 105

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 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 monumental 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 the

appearance of our city and be an added attraction for visitors.

Yours truly,
Shoghi Rabbani

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. Enquiries 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

Page 106

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.

A letter, dated April 6, 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 in Palestine. However, he has been in touch

with an Italian firm in Carrara aboutplacing 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 ... as 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..."

In such a storm yet another step in the unbelievably troubled

history of the Báb's remains and the building of His Tomb was


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."

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 Baha'i

Faith, the Universal House of Justice. One of his earliest acts,

in 1922, had been to summon to Haifa old and key believers to

discuss this matter with him. He repeatedly mentioned it in his

communications -- indeed in his first letter to Persia, written on

January 16, 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
Page 107

the world". There can be no 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.

From an Indian pilgrim's notes in a letter to a friend, written

in Haifa on June 15,1929, we find the following: "Shoghi Effendi

says ... so long as the various National Assemblies do not have

stabilized, well organized positions, it would be impossible to establish

even an informal 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 of

fice 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

Page 108

which will in future be undertaken by the International Baha'i

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 functions, significance and importance of

which were growing in his mind.

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, 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 that 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
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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 Baha'i

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."

In November 1950 the Guardian sent cables inviting the first of

that group who later became members of the International Baha'i

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. When Lutfu'llah 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 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 Baha'i

world. It was not, however, until January 9, 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 of ficially recognized

Bahá'í Court, was transformed into an
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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,

Shoghi Effendi had now buckled into place the frame that would

eventually support the crowning unit -- the Universal House of


Fourteen months later, on March 8, 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-Baha Ruh. iyyih chosen liaison between me and Council.

Hands Cause Mason Remey, Amelia Collins, Ugo Giachery, Leroy Ioas,

President, Vice-President, Member-atLarge, 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.

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 December 24, 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, T. arazu'llah

Samandari and 'Ali Akbar Furutan in Asia; Horace Holley, Dorothy

Baker and Leroy Ioas in America; George Townshend,

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Hermann Grossmann and Ugo Giachery in Europe. Two months later, on

February 29, 1952, Shoghi Effendi announced to the friends in 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, Dhikru'llah Khadem and

Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i 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's

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 Rahmatu'llah Muhajir,

in the Pacific area; and Abu'l-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


The Guardian, in a two-month period in 1952, created a body of

one Vahid (Nineteen) of the 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

March 26,1952, after the death of Sutherland Maxwell; and 'Ali Muh.

ammad Varqa was appointed to succeed his father on November 15,1955

and also became the Trustee of the Huquq in his place. After

Dorothy Baker was killed in an accident, Paul Haney was made a Hand

of the Cause on March 19,1954 and following the passing of Fred

Schopflocher, Jalal Khazeh was elevated
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to the same rank on December 7, 1953; not long after George

Townshend's death the Guardian appointed Agnes Alexander on March

27,1957; 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 January 9,1951 and March 8,1952, 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 "emryonic 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 Wiu 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 worldencircling, relentlessly marching Faith revolve", "the

Holy Land, the Qiblih of a world community, the heart from which

the energizing influences of a vivifying Faith continuously 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 Baha who

have been mentioned in the Book of Names"; the "people of Baha",

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," Shoghi Effendi

wrote, "under the wings of the Báb's overshadow-
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ing Sepulchre ... is 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

January 14,1952, 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 dur

ing 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

"advisers" to the Hands and increasingly assist in the promotion

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the Ten Year Crusade. These Boards were to consist of nine members

each in America, Europe and 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 out unflinchingly sacred inescapable

duties. Security precious Faith preservation spiritual health

Bahá'í Communities vitality faith its individual members proper

functioning its laboriously erected institutions fruition its

worldwide enterprises
Page 115

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 charged 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 inconceivable 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 Baha'is,

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 November 22, 1946: "Your magnificent international services

exemplary devotion and now this signal service impel me to inform

you your elevation rank Hand Cause Bahá'u'lláh. You are first be

told this honour in lifetime. As to time announcement leave it my

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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 Baha'i

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, Midhi. 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


The American Assembly, on December 5th, 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'lBaha

reunited one spot designed constitute focal centre Baha'i

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.
Page 117

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

those 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,

around which he constructed the beautiful gardens which are

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.

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 quarters 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.

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 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

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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 must 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

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.

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

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 November 27, 195

linked by the Guardian once again to the anniversary of his beloved

Master's passing -- Shoghi Effendi dwelt on the significance of this

building: "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 such

divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of

the Cause and 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, ... of her brother, ... and of their mother..."

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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's

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 121

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

restingplaces 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, and that Shoghi Effendi had, by 1957, raised this

to 230,000 square metres, and that in Bahji the comparable figures

would be 1,000 square metres for 1921 and 257,000 square metres for

1957, we get an idea of his accomplishments in this one field

alone. Through the generosity of individual Baha'is, 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

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first step in constituting Palestine Branches -- which were later

changed to Israel Branches -- of various National Assemblies and

registering in their names properties 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


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, fran, 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 Covenantbreakers,

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 exemptions for the steadily increasing area of land owned

by the Faith, most of which was registered in the names of

individuals. 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 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.

On May 10,1934, 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..."

By thus reading the pleasant tail end of events one does not get

any idea of what Shoghi Effendi went through in connection with

purchasing, exempting from taxes and safeguarding the properties

at the World Centre. In a cable to the American National Assem-

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bly, of March 28,1935, 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 one 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-Baha'is, 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, during 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 cf 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

of our 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 materialism that threatens to engulf the world,

and I feel that however arduous be our common task we

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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 a 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. 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


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 Baha'i

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 Baha'is. We thus find him writing to the

Universal Esperantist Association, in 1927, that Martha Root and

Julia Goldman will attend their Danzig Congress as official Baha'i

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
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whose cardinal principles ... is 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 April lst: "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: "Zionist 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 Baha'is." Twenty-five years later the tie

established is still there: "The Hebrew University was very

gratified indeed to receive your check for �100.- as the

contribution from His Eminence
Page 126

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 ourgenuine 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; Professor 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 of ficials 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.

In all his relationships with both government and municipal of

ficials 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


-- 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 April 5,1922, 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 goes on to say: "To assist her to conduct the

affairs of the Bahá'í Movement in this country and elsewhere, I

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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

of ficial functions", and goes on to say: "I had felt after the

passing of my beloved Grandfather too exhausted, overwhelmed and

sorrowful to be able to conduct efflciently 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


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 of fice. 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

Page 128

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".

Throughout Shoghi Effendi's correspondence with both KeithRoach

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


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 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 Bagdad, 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 January 16, 1922, Shoghi

Effendi maintained this contact with the government until the end

of his life, first with the British and laterwith 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 December 15th of that same year, he

had wired Sir Herbert, on the l9th: "Pray accept my best wishes and

kind regards on my return to Holy Land and resumption of my

offlcial duties."

In May 1923 we find Shoghi Effendi keeping both the Governor of

Haifa and the High Commissioner informed of events, for in a

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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 April 21st, had stated that he

enclosed a copy of his recent circular letter to the Baha'i

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 to me 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 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 of fice was drawing to a close

the Guardian sent to him, on June 15,1925, 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

Page 130

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

Chancellor, on September 10th, 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 their 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 ...

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 May 4th, 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 of fice 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 that 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 KeithRoach

was District Commissioner in Haifa -- that some of the

Page 131

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 June 26, 1933, Sir Arthur states: "I have

received your letter of the 21st June and I hasten to write to

thank you for it and to assure you that when the case you mention

is referred to me for a decision under the Palestine (Holy Places)

Order in Council, it will receive a most careful consideration. I

have also received the 'Bahá'í World' for 193(}32. I am most

grateful to you for this extremely interesting book ... I hope

to have the pleasure of another visit to the beautiful Gardens on

the hillside outside Haifa."

On March 13,1934, 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 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 May 1st

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

shortsightedness, 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
Page 132

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 May 11,

1934, his inner jubilation over this victory can be sensed:

Your Excellency,

The gratifying news has just come to me from the District

Commissioner of 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 Baha'i

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

outcome. And I venture to hope for the continuation of Your

Excellency's sympathetic support in our plan to gradually beautify

this property for the use 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 project 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 charm-
Page 133

ingly 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 Bahá'í World. The last letter, written in February

1938, by this man, who through his high of fice 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 by 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 July 9th he wrote to Shoghi Effendi from

Jerusalem, stating that under the terrns of reference of this

committee it was charged with giving most careful consideration to

the religious interests in Palestine of Islm, 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 of the historic importance to Bahá'ís of Shoghi

Effendi's reply to this letter, I quote it in full:

Mr. Justice Emil Sandstrom, Chairman, United Nations Special

Committee on Palestine. Sir:

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 Baha'

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

Page 134

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 Baha'is, 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 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

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all denominations), the Pilgrim Hostel for western Bahá'í 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 Bahj,

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
Haifa, Palestine
July 14, 1947

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

Guardian had succeeded in impressing upon non-Baha's, 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

Page 136

Largely because of this, and a knowledge of what the Bahá'í Teachings

represented, of which the avantgarde 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


[huge gap]


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.

In January 1949 Mr. Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister of the Provisional

Government, came to Haifa on his first of ficial 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

of fices 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, January 21st, in the

private home the Prime Minister was staying in on Mt. Carmel and

lasted about fifteen minutes. Ben Gurion enquired 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

English-language newspaper on December 20, 1948, in which, in the

most favourable terms, its teachings were set forth and the station

of Shoghi Effendi as its World Head mentioned. On January 28, 1949,

there appeared in the letter column of this paper a short and

extraordinary statement, signed "Bahai U.N. Observer", which flatly

refuted the article and asserted, "Mr. Rabbani is not the Guardian

of the Bahai faith, nor its World Leader" and gave the New History

Society in New York as a source of further-informa- ... ..'is --


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

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by the Baha'is, 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 Baha'is

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 the present


In announcing this bad news, the day after he received his answer

from Tihran, 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 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 of ficially lists in his statistical pamphlets as having

been formed in 1934 .

The situation of the Bahá'ís in the East and particularly Persia

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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 cases 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, with instructions, usually

to the American National Assembly, to intervene on their behalf and

solicit justice in their cause.

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 August 23rd, 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 Tihran 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 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 baby 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
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hacked to pieces with spades and axes a family of seven -- the oldest

eighty and the youngest nineteen -- to the sound of music and


The Baha'is, 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 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 Baha'i

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 Baha'i

appeal were delivered to representatives of the member nations of

the Social and Economic Council, the Director of the Human Rights

Division, as well as to certain specialized agencies of NonGovernmental

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 the 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,

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

Failh 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

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and heads of governments, in both 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, of 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.

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

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, where 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 the 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 June 22, 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

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rental to respective religious communities regarding Mashriqu'lAdhkar

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'lAdhkar.

Enquire particulars 'Ishqabad..." and to 'Ishqabad to "refer

Moscow Assembly address petition authorities behalf all Baha'is

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 the

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 all persecutions how much is exacerbated by the unwisdom of the

persecuted themselves, interacting on 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 January 1, 1929, was that the

Russian Bahá'ís had at last 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 Baha'i

Assemblies and individual believers, suspending all meetings . .

. suppressing the
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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 Baha'i

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

come 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 Baha'i

solidarity, would call the attention of the Russian officials not

only to their refutation of any implication of a political design

or ulterior motive
Page 157

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'í is in every land and of every race are unitedly

engaged" 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 form a guiding pattern

for Bahá'í Assemblies to follow throughout all time and 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 which

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 came before the Criminal Tribunal on December

13,1928, 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 followers of Bahá'u'lláh been

called upon by the of ficials of a state ... to unfold the

history and principles of their Faith..."

It is interesting to note that in the papers seized by the

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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 Chairman

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 February

12,1929: "As to the verdict ... it 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


Although this was the first major episode involving the Baha'is

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 of ficial memory was short, in 1933 there was a

recrudescence of the same suspicions and accusations that had

brought about the case in 1928. On January 27th 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 Baha'is

Stamboul and Adana charged political motives". The next day he

wired a prominent Turk:
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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


The Baha'is, 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 had given in the

former case, secured, after many months of effort, the release and

acquittal of the believers. On March 5th the Guardian informed the

American Assembly: "Istanbul friends acquitted 53 still imprisoned

Adana urge renew energetically representations immediate release"

and on April 4th he cabled them: "Adana friends released. Advise

convey appreciation Turkish Ambassador".

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 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 Baha'is; through legal

channels a demand was made that their Muhammadan wives divorce

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them on the grounds that they were now married to heretics. The

case went to the Appelate religious courts of Beba, which delivered

its Judgement on May 10,1925, 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 quoted the actual words of the Judgement,

of such immense historic importance to the Baha'is:

"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 viceversa,

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 Judgement. 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 ever 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 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

departmental head who was-re- ... ..eoples were cleansed of

their prejudices and fused into the structure of this system -- all

testified, 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 Baha'is, 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 Baha'i

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.

One of the most wonderful things about Shoghi Effendi was that he

pushed the horizons of our minds ever further away. His vision of

the Cause was seen from the Everest of his all-embracing understanding

of its implications. In thirty-six years nothing ever 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'lláh .

. . is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that

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 harrnony, 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'lláh ... is not to

destroy but to fulfil the Revelations of the past ... His purpose

... is to restate the basic truths which these teachings enshrine

in a manner that
Page 176

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 nonpolitical, non-partisan, and diametrically opposed to

any policy or school of thought 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 ... 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 our-

selves -- 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

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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 finger tips for him to seize.

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

Teachings, Shoghi Effendi foresaw the course 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 his

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, bringgreatevil upon

men. Thus warnethyou He Who is the All-Knowing. If carried to

excess, civilization will prove as proific a source of evil as it

had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation

... The day is approaching when itsflame 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 no 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

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preted 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, 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 Baha'is, 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


. 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 tide of divorce, in

the deteriora-
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tion 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, 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

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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 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

judgement 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
Page 181

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 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 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

Page 182
opposite of the teachings of modern psychology.

The Guardian's relationship with the entire Bahá'í world, as well

as individuals, officials, and non-Baha'is, 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 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
Page 183

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, Tihran, Sydney, and Kampala

he himself chose. They were admittedly conseNative, 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. In letters he wrote

in 1956 to two different National Assemblies about two different

Temples, his secretary states his views as follows: "He feels that,

as this is the Mother Temple ... it 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 question

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.

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.

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?

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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


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

waming 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 of ficial 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 grace that sustains

system God's essentially supranational supematural 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 by 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 labor 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

Page 185

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 includes within its pale so

great a variety of races and nations, 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 Baha'is, 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 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 Baha'i

communities in every land and under any government."

It must not be thought that as this Faith grew in strength and

Page 186

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 nonpolitical

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.

In a world where the press, television and radio are hourly

pouring out accusations, indictments and abuse upon the systems and

policies of other nations, the Bahá'ís cannot be too wise.

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 insuring 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 judgement

on such vital and delicate questions.
Page 187

Another great guiding line of thought was the Guardian's exposition

of what unity means in the Bahá'í teachings. Shoghi Effendi

wrote that "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'lláh ... it 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 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 Baha'i

fraternity and assimilated through the processes of a divinelyappointed

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 far 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

Page 188

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

people 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 curiosities or trophies but rather because the beloved

Josephs of the world were come home to the tent of their Father.

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 Baha'i

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

Page 189

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

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

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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


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 commonwealth ... in which the

autonomy 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.

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: "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."

Little minds instinctively seek to circumscribe the things around

them, to pull in the walls to the size of their own small

existence, to
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get everything squared off to their own scale so they can feel safe

and snug. This process invariably 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

reads 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 world

government and world society.

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. 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 whole, 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: "... it 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


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 worldunifying, 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. The Guardian answered that the object of life to a Baha'i

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" would

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

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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 effect 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.

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 Baha'is. 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, was greatly helped in this process by the ruling of a

Muslim court in Egypt which stated we were not part of Islam but

as 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 to 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 Baha'i

institutions -- to convert mankind to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The

Baha'is, 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
Page 194

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 Baha'i


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 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 enrollment 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. F,ing 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 Abha

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 worldwide 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


The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi were the

Great Teachers. Their ministries cach so different in charac-

ter -- were primarily devoted to the sublime aim of bringing all mankind

under the tent of this healing, peace-giving, soulregenerating

Faith. Over and over again, insistently, for thirty-

six years Shoghi Effendi rallied us to "the preeminent task of

teaching the Faith to
Page 195

the multitudes ... a task", he assured us in his last Rid. van

Message to the Bahá'í world, "... at 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


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.
Page 197

In making any attempt to give a coherent picture of what Shoghi

Effendi called the first epoch in the evolution of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's

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

fulfill 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 those 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 Fowth 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

1957, shortly before his passing: "Less substantial, however, has

been the progress achieved in the all-important teaching field, and

far inferior the acceleration in the vital process of individual

conversion for which the entire
Page 198

machinery of the Administrative Order has been primarily and so

laboriously erected."

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.

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 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 islands of Tahiti in the Pacific Ocean. During

thirty-six years Shoghi Effendi neverforgot 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. Its

significance has been elaborated by the Guardian in innumerable

passages. It was, he wrote, "the weightiest spiritual enterprise

Page 199

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 West."

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 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 fulfill 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 Bahahs to victory.

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 of Canada;

three, to create one centre in each Latin American Republic "for

Page 200

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

sevenyear activity took place in the face of the greatest suffering

and darkest threat the New World 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 Baha'is

of the United States and Canada. He told them the "deepening gloom"

of the Old World invested their labours with a "significance and

urgency" that could not be over-estimated. The Latin American

campaign was "one of the most glorious chapters in the

international history of the Faith." 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. "

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 had ensured that all the preliminary

steps had been taken on the homefront, 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".

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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

determination, succeeded in not only doubling the number of Baha'i

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 omamentation 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".

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 May 23,1944.

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, GreatBritain, 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

Page 202

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 Bab. The Guardian himself, full of tenderness for

a community so perpetually af,9icted, instructed its national body

in detail regarding the manner in which this glorious event was to

be commemorated.

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.

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 difflcult 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 States published

a similar, larger pamphlet, thirty-five pages long, with a map;

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on it they put: "Compiled by Shoghi Effendi Guardian of the Baha'i

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".

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. 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 the 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 his

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. From

1921-1932, 5 were added in 11 years; 1932-1944, 38 were added in

12 years; 1944-1950, 22 were added in 6 years; 1950-1951, 6 were

added in one year; 1951-1952, 22 were added in one year; 1952-1953,

no increase in number; 1953-1954,100 were added in one year; 19541957,

26 more were added. When Shoghi Effendi became Guardian there

were 35 countries, but when he passed away he had raised this

number to 251 219 added by his vision, drive and determination

working through and with a dedicated, spiritually inflamed worldwide

group of believers.

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

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In 1944 there were Bahá'í publications available in 41 languages;

by 1957 there were 237.

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 Baha'is", likewise listed by name:

in 1944 there 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.

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; by 1957 there were over 200 incorporations

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 in 1957 they owned

48. National endowments had likewise multiplied to an unprecedented

degree and that same
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year there were 50 of them in various capital cities of the world.

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. 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". 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 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 sufflciently 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 was 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" As-

semblies -- 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 African ones, formed in 1956, represented

57 territories. This meant that nine people, often residing in

countries over a thousand miles apart, had to consult and adminis-

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ter the affairs of scattered, mostly young and inexperienced Assemblies

and communities, spread over hundreds of thousands of

square miles.

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


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 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

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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.

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 worldin the second century of its own erawas 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 use 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."

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 way to hoist its banner in Afganistan, Baluchistan,

Sulaymaniyyih, H. ijaz and Bah. rayn. 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


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 GreatPlanconceivedby'Abdu'l-BaháfortheAmericanbelievers."

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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 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 w-re waiting in

their tum 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


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 had been designed to create in

the Western Hemisphere a vast homefront from which the New World

could launch a well-organized attack on the Old World -- on Europe,

its parent continent. The child of one hemisphere, 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

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prophetic mission as He lay in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran.

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), the

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 Baha'i

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.

The continent of Europe was "turbulent, politically convulsed,

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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 enterprises", "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


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 offlcially suspended, was now reconstituted and heroically

gathering its war-torn flock about it. With these the European

Teaching Committee of the American National Assembly and the ever

swelling group of pioneers in the Ten Goal Countries closely cooperated.

This great European undertaking 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.

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 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.

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 another offering on the altar 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 sec-

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ond Seven Year Plan" the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is

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 Spiritual Assembly participate together with sister

National Assemblies United States, British Isles, Germany

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 babies 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
Page 212

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 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 the 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


Wonderful as had been the celebration of the hundredth anniversary

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 Tihran.

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

Bab, 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 August 15,1852. 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 Baha'is

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 by 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 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

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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 a way that two entirely different things were made to

react on 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 SiyahChal, 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'lBahá'í Divine 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 18441952, 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 the 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.

The highlights of the Holy Year were four great Intercontinental

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 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 manv 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-Baha Ruh. iyyih

Khanum, Ugo Giachery and Mason Remey; these emis-
Page 214

saries would fulfil a fou-fold mission: they would bear a reproduction

of a miniature portrait of the Báb to show to 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 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 1957that -

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 over-burdened 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
Page 215

Centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission . Its culmination

will coincide with the Centenary of the Declaration of that same


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: 56 territories, 27 to be opened and 29 to be

consolidated, involving such widely separated and difflcult 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 between 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 baby national body of the

Bahá'í world -- that of Italy and Switzerland, scarcely three months

old -- which was given by the Guardian territories all its own, 7 in


At these historic gatherings, 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

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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 Baha'is. Indeed, in his

highly significant message to the 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 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 May 1, 1893.

Its sessions were preceded by the consummation of a fifty-year-old

enterprise -- the dedication to public worship, on May 2nd, 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"
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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


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

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 percent 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


In the presence of the twelve Hands of the Cause attending this

Conference -- to which Bahá'ís from over 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.

The opening of the doors of the Mother Temple to public worship,

the public meetings addressed by prominent Bahá'ís and non-

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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.

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

studious analysis of the work their beloved Guardian had 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


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, conducted

by the North American believers, a Six Year Plan and a Two

Year Plan launched by the British Baha'is, 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

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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".

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 Germany -- received substantial financial pledges, as did

three other European projects involving large sums of money,

namely, the purchase of the National Haziratu'lQuds of the British

Bahá'ís and the sites for two future Bahá'í Temples, one in

Stockholm and one in Rome. 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

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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 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" (T. ihran) and the "Cynosure of an adoring

world" (Bagdad) 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 reenact

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 charac-

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terized 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 gladtidings

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 contributed towards

the purchase of the three sites for future Bahá'í Temples -- Bagdad,

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 over two years

Shoghi Effendi not only worked on and fully elaborated the details

of this global Crusade but made the exhaustive plans necessary for

these great jubilee celebrations and constantly directed the Hands

of the Cause and the National Assemblies who were to implement

their programmes. 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

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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 pour forth to the

four corners of the world in ever-swelling numbers; without their

assistance, their strong financial support and their constant

readiness to sacrifice, the Crusade could never have been won on

the scale that marked its triumphal conclusion in 1963.

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 homefronts 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 colonies. "I direct my

impassioned appeal," he wrote, "to obey, as befits His warriors,

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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 Abha 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, the battle of the "worldwide,

loyal, unbreachable army" of "Bahá'u'lláh's warriors", His

"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.

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 1954 he was able to give the

glad-tidings that they had reached 100. Having seized these 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 of the

front lines, immediately set about digging in. The second phase of

the Plan, now opening, was primarily concerned with consolidation.

In that same 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 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 Tihran 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
Page 224

108 people constituting the 12 National Assemblies of the Baha'i

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 Baha'i

world the leaders and the 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."

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 an

estimated $100,000, and of buying 43 of the 49 national Baha'i

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-Chal, 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 Baha'is; 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-

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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.

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. He decided on a conservative concept, worked out with

his personal approval in Haifa, and which he said, "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 Bahjl on the

first day of Ridvan, 1953. It was a project to which Shoghi Effendi

attached the greatest importance and the outlawing of all Baha'i

activity in Persia in 1955 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 Tihran was to have the third great Temple of the Baha'i

world and Germany the fourth, in reality the European one became

third in priority and Africa the fourth. The design for the African

Temple was made under Shoghi Effendi's supervision in 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

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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. 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 Baha'is

of Australia and New Zealand to make enquiries, confidentially, as

to how much such a building would cost if erected in Sydney. When

he received an 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

the African continents, at a cost of approximately one million dollars,

complementing 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 of 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

Page 227

It was during this second phase of the World Crusade that the

American National Assembly purchased the land for its first 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 229

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


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,

heartbreaking 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 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.
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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 laid 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 First World 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 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

Page 231

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 had 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

Bab, 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 mountainside 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, nonpartisan,

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 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

Page 232

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 seventyseven

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 Bfib, 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 that period

during which its Administrative Order -- the very hall-mark of this

Age -- must evolve, reach perfection and effloresce into the World

Order of Bahá'u'lláh. The first epoch of this Age spanned the

period from the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921 until the

centenary of 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 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

advanced towards what he called its Golden Age, which on more than

one occasion, he intimated would probably arise in the later

Page 233
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 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 Baha'is

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, 1953-1954; 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 19541956, 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 a

world spiritual Crusade" he wrote, would take place between 19561958,

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 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


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
Page 234

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 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 a

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

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."
Page 235

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, eclipse ... in 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".

It 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 of ficers 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 in Asia another reproduction

of the portrait of Bahá'u'lláh for the assembled believers to view,

but this was to be brought back for 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

Page 236

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 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 an 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 heads in the 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 arisen to complete the Guardian's Plan

and ensure the election of the divinely-guided Universal House of

Justice, it is hard to imagine how greatly affected the body of

the Faith might have been by the sudden and totally unexpected

death of its 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 focussed 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
Page 237

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 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 this 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 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 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

Page 238

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 not 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 Baha's

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 everincreasing 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 favourite

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 .

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 through 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

Page 239

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."

Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that

shadoweth all mankind.

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