The Baha'i Covenant | The Covenant of Baha'u'llah How the Covenant in the Baha'i Faith creates and maintains a unified religious community 2011-11-12T18:08:39Z WordPress http://covenantstudy.org/feed/atom/ admin <![CDATA[Updated document: “Mason Remey and those who followed him”]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=93 2009-05-20T10:53:36Z 2009-05-20T10:37:39Z An updated version of the document “Mason Remey and those who followed him” has been posted in the “Additional Documents” section. It demonstrates again the truth of the words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

These agitations of the violators are no more than the foam of the ocean, which is one of its inseparable features; but the ocean of the Covenant shall surge and shall cast ashore the bodies of the dead, for it cannot retain them. Thus it is seen that the ocean of the Covenant hath surged and surged until it hath thrown out the dead bodies — souls that are deprived of the Spirit of God and are lost in passion and self and are seeking leadership. This foam of the ocean shall not endure and shall soon disperse and vanish, while the ocean of the Covenant shall eternally surge and roar….
Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 210-11

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admin <![CDATA[Ridvan 2009 letter to the Baha’is of the World]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=91 2009-04-22T11:24:23Z 2009-04-22T07:56:04Z One way to remain firm in the Covenant is to study the letters of the Universal House of Justice as they provide the most current guidance on the workings of God’s Plan in the world today. As such here is the Ridvan 2009 message to the Baha’is of the World:

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

Ridvan 2009

To the Baha’is of the World

Dearly loved friends,

A mere three years ago we set before the Baha’i world the challenge of exploiting the framework for action that had emerged with such clarity at the conclusion of the last global Plan. The response, as we had hoped, was immediate. With great vigour the friends everywhere began to pursue the goal of establishing intensive programmes of growth in no less than 1,500 clusters worldwide, and the number of such programmes soon started to climb. But no one could have imagined then how profoundly the Lord of Hosts, in His inscrutable wisdom, intended to transform His community in so short a span of time. What a purposeful and confident community it was that celebrated its accomplishments at the midway point of the current Plan in forty-one regional conferences across the globe! What an extraordinary contrast did its coherence and energy provide to the bewilderment and confusion of a world caught in a spiral of crisis! This, indeed, was the community of the blissful to which the Guardian had referred. This was a community aware of the vast potentialities with which it has been endowed and conscious of the role it is destined to play in rebuilding a broken world. This was a community in the ascendant, subject to severe repression in one part of the globe, yet rising up undeterred and undismayed as a united whole and strengthening its capacity to achieve Bahá’u’lláh’s purpose to liberate humankind from the yoke of the most grievous oppression. And in the nearly eighty-thousand participants who attended the conferences we saw the emergence on the historical scene of an individual believer supremely confident in the efficacy of the Plan’s methods and instruments and remarkably deft at wielding them. Each and every soul of this mighty sea stood as testimony to the transforming potency of the Faith. Each and every one was evidence of Bahá’u’lláh’s promise to assist all those who arise with detachment and sincerity to serve Him. Each and every one offered a glimpse of that race of beings, consecrated and courageous, pure and sanctified, destined to evolve over generations under the direct influence of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. In them we saw the first signs of the fulfilment of our hope expressed at the outset of the Plan that the edifying influence of the Faith would be extended to hundreds of thousands through the institute process. There is every indication that, by the end of the Ridván period, the number of intensive programmes of growth around the world will have crossed the 1,000 mark. What more can we do at the opening of this most joyous Festival than to bow our heads in humility before God and offer Him thanksgiving for His unbounded generosity to the community of the Greatest Name.

The Universal House of Justice

To view the Table of Contents for this site, click here >

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admin <![CDATA[Table of Contents]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=87 2009-04-02T14:48:32Z 2009-03-15T07:17:56Z The goal of this Web site is to provide a place to study the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith on the subject of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. An outline of the material is presented here:

Understanding the Covenant

  1. What is the Covenant?
  2. What is the “Greater Covenant”?
  3. What is the “Lesser Covenant”?
  4. What are the powers and blessings manifested through the Covenant?
  5. Why is it important to study the Covenant?
  6. What does it mean to be firm in the Covenant?
  7. What should we do when we are faced with a Baha’i law or teaching that we do not understand?
  8. What is the role of freedom in relation to the Covenant?
  9. What should we do if we disagree with a decision that has been made by a Baha’i Institution?
  10. What is the role of questioning and criticism in the Baha’i community?
  11. What is the difference between individual and authoritative interpretation?

The History of the Baha’i Covenant

  1. Where did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá derive His authority as the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant?
  2. What is the station of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?
  3. Where did Shoghi Effendi derive his authority as Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith?
  4. Where does the Universal House of Justice derive its authority as head of the Baha’i Faith?
  5. What is the role of the Institution of the Hands of the Cause of God?
  6. What were the conditions set by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the appointment of a Guardian after Shoghi Effendi?
  7. Did Shoghi Effendi write a Will and Testament?
  8. Can the Universal House of Justice function properly without a living Guardian?

Challenges to the Covenant

  1. Has the Covenant faced challenges in the history of the Baha’i Faith?
  2. What purposes do challenges to the Covenant serve?
  3. How should we respond to challenges to the Covenant?
  4. What does the term “Covenant-breaking” mean?
  5. What were some of the challenges to the Covenant after the passing of Baha’u’llah?
  6. What were some of the challenges to the Covenant after the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha?
  7. What challenge to the Covenant occurred after the passing of Shoghi Effendi?
  8. What kinds of challenges will the Covenant face in the future?
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admin <![CDATA[What challenges did the Covenant face after the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha? (Part 1)]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=59 2009-04-02T14:05:36Z 2009-01-12T11:10:58Z Ahmad Sohrab

The case of Ahmad Sohrab is, for one who has had any experience of orientals and of psychology, easily understandable. He was, for some years the secretary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and enjoyed, as a result of this and the fact that he accompanied Him to America, (to be sure with a number of other Persians), a great deal of attention from the Bahá’ís who looked up to him and admired him. However, since the Master’s Will was read, and the administrative order, under the Guardianship, began to be developed, he became cognizant of the fact that his personal ambition for leadership would have to be subordinated to some degree of supervision; that he would have to obey the National and local assemblies - just like every other Bahá’í, and could not be free to teach wholly independent of any advice or supervision. This was the beginning of the defection which in the end took him outside the pale of the Faith: he refused not to be handled always as an exception, a privileged exception. In fact, if we keenly analyse it, it is almost invariably the soaring ambition and deep self-love of people that has led them to leave the Faith. Towards the end Sohrab used, in the course of his lectures, to incorporate quotation after quotation of Bahá’u'lláh’s words in his lectures, without once stating they were Bahá’u'lláh’s, and when the believers remonstrated with him over this plagiarism, it had no effect. After he had, of his own accord, left the organized body of the Faith and refused to be reconciled with it, he began to attack the administrators of it, first the American N.S.A., then the entire administrative order, and in the end the Guardian. What he teaches at present is so far divorced from our beloved Faith, and so tinged with the doctrines of many “cults” which we see thriving at present, as to be almost unrecognizable. Sohrab’s influence and activities in America have waned greatly, and he seems to now feel his only chance of causing mischief is to be active with his “caravan” movement abroad. The books and articles he published attacking the Guardian and, in fact, everything established in the Master’s Will, had no effect, and far from succeeding in causing any breach in the Faith in America, some of the very few who followed him out of the Cause, gave him up, and returned to serve the Cause with redoubled enthusiasm!

The Guardian feels that one of the best antidotes to those - Sohrab or others - who seek to undermine the faith of the believers, especially by harping on the subject of excommunication, is to place in their hands a German edition of “God Passes By”. For in that book he (the Guardian) has clearly pointed out that the Cause of God has always been attacked from within, and that, beginning in the days of the Báb, the “Sea of Truth” has over and over cast out its spiritually dead. It must do this, even as the body seeks to rid itself of poisons so as to preserve the health of the entire organism.

Your assembly should do all it can to protect and educate the believers so that they will understand that it is not personal ill-will, or lack of love, which leads to the excommunication of a person, but rather the fact that he has become like a cancer which must be removed before the entire body is destroyed.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v I, p. 134 -137

Avarih

Avarih was a native of the village of Taft in the province of Yazd. Before he embraced the Faith he was a Muslim clergyman. Soon after becoming a follower of Bahá’u'lláh he was recognized by the believers to be a man of learning and knowledge and became renowned as one of the erudite teachers of the Faith.

Abdu’l-Bahá, who was fully aware of the vices and corrupt practices of this man, did not prevent him from serving the Cause, and as long as he acted faithfully in relation to the Faith, He encouraged him, praised his work and wrote several Tablets in his honour. However, from the beginning of his involvement with the Bahá’í Faith, Avarih displayed a pride and vanity that puzzled those Bahá’ís who were in close contact with him.

On 19 January 1922 Shoghi Effendi wrote a letter to the Persian believers stating that he would soon establish the Universal House of Justice. He then called a number of well-known believers to the Holy Land in March 1922 for consultation. Among these was Avarih, who arrived late. Many of the believers, including Avarih, thought that Shoghi Effendi should call for the election of the Universal House of Justice immediately. However, it became apparent to Shoghi Effendi that the election of that body had to wait until such time as local and national spiritual assemblies could be formed in various countries and were fully functioning. But Avarih, dissatisfied with this decision, was still determined to press his point of view.

Following Avarih’s short stay in the Holy Land, he travelled to England in January 1923 and soon after he went to Egypt. During the few months that he remained in Cairo, he created dissension and disunity among the believers to such an extent that the Spiritual Assembly of Cairo complained to Shoghi Effendi. Thus he was invited to return to the Holy Land. Here he questioned the authenticity of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá but was satisfied when shown the original copy in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s handwriting. He then met with the Greatest Holy Leaf and reiterated to her his opinion that Shoghi Effendi should be advised to call for the election of the Universal House of Justice. He is reported to have uttered a veiled threat that if his demand were not acted upon, he would have no choice but to arouse the Bahá’ís of Persia to rebel against the Guardian.

In the meantime, he wrote letters to the believers expressing his dissatisfaction with the way the affairs of the Cause were being conducted. Upon his arrival in Persia he began propagating his misconceived ideas aimed at creating division among the friends there, with the result that in May 1924 the Spiritual Assembly of  Tihran sought guidance from the Guardian about to how to deal with Avarih. The response was that the friends must be protected from his misguided intentions.

This clear violation of the Covenant isolated Avarih from the believers. Even his wife left him and refused to associate with him. Soon he changed his tactics and wrote a series of letters to various members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s family, saying that there had been misunderstandings and suggesting that if Shoghi Effendi were willing to arrange an annual income for him, he would alter his attitude and stop his activities against the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh.

…In the several letters Avarih wrote asking for reinstatement, however, there was no expression of repentance, and when he received no positive response, he unveiled his satanic nature and wrote abusive letters to Shoghi Effendi, using offensive language and vowing to destroy the Faith of Bahá’u'lláh altogether. There was never among the Covenant-breakers during Shoghi Effendi’s ministry a man so vile and hypocritical as he.

Covenant-breakers usually oppose the Centre of the Faith but most of them claim to be believers in Bahá’u'lláh. In this case, however, Avarih rebelled against the Faith itself, in spite of the fact that he had spent more than two decades teaching the Cause of Bahá’u'lláh and had published voluminous writings declaring its truth and testifying to the authenticity of its Founder’s message. He joined hands with the Muslim clergy and Christian missionaries in attacking the Faith in Persia. He disseminated far and wide a series of his despicable publications against the Faith. In foul language, he attacked every aspect of the Faith, misrepresented its aims, and uttered slanders about its Central Figures, whom he attacked in most distasteful terms. ‘The volumes’, Shoghi Effendi writes, ‘which a shameless apostate composed and disseminated … in his brazen efforts not only to disrupt that Order [Administrative Order] but to undermine the very Faith which had conceived it, proved … abortive.’

In one of his letters to the Bahá’ís of Persia, who had completely ignored the activities of this ignoble man, Shoghi Effendi referred to Avarih as a dead body which the surging ocean of the Cause of God had cast upon its shores, thus cleansing itself of pollution. Shoghi  Effendi predicted that Avarih would live to a very old age in order to see with his own eyes the progress of the Faith throughout the world. And, indeed, he did live to be about a hundred years of age and witness the rising prestige of the Faith, the inauguration of the Holy Year in 1953, the completion of the superstructure of the Shrine of the Báb, the launching of the Ten Year Crusade and the convocation of several international conferences at which a host of teachers and pioneers arose to carry the message of Bahá’u'lláh to many virgin territories and establish the institutions of His Faith all over the globe. In a cable of 16 December 1953 announcing the death of Avarih, Shoghi Effendi referred to him as one who ‘will be condemned by posterity as being the most shameless, vicious, relentless apostate in the annals of the Faith, who, through ceaseless vitriolic attacks recorded in voluminous writings and close alliance with its traditional enemies, assiduously schemed to blacken its name and subvert the foundations of its institutions’.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 294-296

Ruth White

Another person who rose up in opposition to Shoghi Effendi and to the establishment of the institutions of the Faith was Mrs Ruth White in the United States. A veteran believer, she had visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Holy Land in 1920. She claimed that the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was not authentic and created much agitation in the community by attacking the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, whose establishment she considered to be against the teachings and wishes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. For several years Mrs White persevered in her determination to prevent the establishment of the institutions of the Faith. One of her actions was to write a letter to the United States Postmaster General asking him, among other things, to prohibit the National Spiritual Assembly from ‘using the United States mails to spread the falsehood that Shoghi Effendi is the successor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian of the Bahá’í Cause’.

Another of Mrs White’s letters was addressed to the High Commissioner for Palestine. In it she completely misrepresented the position of Shoghi Effendi but the authorities in the Holy Land were well aware of the facts and did not heed her appeals.

Mrs White also wrote many letters to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, as well as to some believers, vehemently objecting to the directives of Shoghi Effendi and the administration of the Cause through the local and national institutions. One of Mrs White’s converts was Dr Herrigel, a founding member of the German Bahá’í community. He, too, rejected the authority of the Will and Testament and became numbered among the Covenant-breakers.

It is interesting to note that no one who has studied the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, with the exception of Mrs White and a few others whom she influenced, has ever questioned its authenticity. Even other Covenant-breakers who rose up against Shoghi Effendi did not agree with her. Ahmad Sohrab and Subhi for example, who had both served ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as His secretary, never questioned the authenticity of the Will. Neither did Muhammad-’Ali, nor Badi’u'llah nor other enemies who were looking for any excuse they could find to attack the Guardian of the Faith.

It must be remembered that the Will and Testament was in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s handwriting and bore His seal. These were very familiar to the Persian believers because ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had written innumerable Tablets in His own hand and almost every Bahá’í family in Persia had received one or most of them. Thus, when the photostatic text of the Will and Testament was sent to Persia and elsewhere, it was easily acknowledged by everyone to be in the handwriting of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 299

(Mrs. Ruth) White’s base, preposterous imputations should be entirely ignored. Her machinations can never succeed impede onward march of Cause. Present agitation will assuredly die down. Appeal American Bahá’ís, New York believers in particular, recall these days of stress sacredness of their trust, nobility of their calling. Slightest evidence internal division highly detrimental. Have just completed rough rendering of most detailed authentic narrative early days of Faith trusting its eventual publication may serve heighten enthusiasm deepen faith American believers.

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 24, 1930 - Extracts from US Baha’i News

The Cause of God must be protected from the enemies of the Faith, and from those who sow seeds of doubt in the hearts of the believers, and the greatest of all protections is knowledge: there is no doubt that the silliest of all charges ever made is that the “Will and Testament” of the Master is a forgery! It is all in His own hand, sealed in more than one place with His own seal, and was opened after His death by some members of His own family, who took it from His own safe, in this house, and from that day it has been kept in the safe under lock and key. The charges of Mrs. White were the result of an unbalanced mind. No other enemy, even those who were shrewd and clever, made this foolish accusation!

From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v I, p. 134

“…as regards the handwriting of the Will, you should know that Shoghi Effendi sent out photostatic copies of the Will not only to National Spiritual Assemblies, but also for distribution among individual believers in Persia. You should also remember that the members of the Master’s family, including his half-brother, Muhammad-’Ali, who is so strongly condemned in the Will, as well as the thousands of Persian believers who had received or studied Tablets from Him, were thoroughly familiar with the handwriting of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the Will is so obviously in that handwriting that no one who was qualified to judge — even those who could profit by claiming that the Will was invalid — has ever questioned its authenticity. Even believers who became bitter enemies of Shoghi Effendi after the passing of the Master, … did not question the validity of the Will. The only challenge came from Mrs. White, an American ignorant of Persian, who had the ulterior motive of trying to discredit an administration which she personally opposed. The handwriting expert whose opinion she quoted in support of her argument was also a westerner and himself stated that he could not give a final opinion without seeing the writing in the original.

“Mrs. White went as far as appealing to the civil authorities of Palestine to take legal action in the matter, a request which the British Authorities curtly refused. When, several months later, Badi’u'llah, the brother and lieutenant of the deceased arch-breaker of Bahá’u'lláh’s Covenant, approached these same authorities claiming the right to oppose the projected transfer of the remains of the Mother and Brother of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from ‘Akká to Haifa, they categorically upheld the authority of Shoghi Effendi as the Successor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the basis of their scrutiny of the Will and Testament, the validity of which Badi’u'llah did not dispute.

Universal House of Justice, quoted in The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 348

An interesting aftermath of this whole affair was the Mrs White’s husband, in 1941, cabled Shoghi Effendi he was “profoundly sorrowing and repentant pleading forgiveness…” It seemed he had never really agreed with her. Shoghi Effendi wrote to him, opening the door for his return, but even at this late date it proved impossible for him to disentangle himself from his redoubtable and unrepentant wife, so that his change of heart could not produce a change of status.

Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 119

Members of Shoghi Effendi’s family

…one must understand the old story of Cain and Abel, the story of family jealousies which, like a sombre tread in the fabric of history, runs through all its epochs and can be traced in all its events. Ever since the opposition of the younger brother of Bahá’u'lláh, Mirza Yahya, the poison of Covenant-breaking, which is opposition to the Centre of the Covenant, entered the Faith and remained. It is difficult for those who have neither experienced what this disease is, nor devoted any consideration to the subject, to grasp the reality of the power for destruction it possesses. All the members of the family of Bahá’u'lláh grew up in the shadow of Covenant-breaking. The storms, separations, reconciliations, final sundering of ties, which are involved when a close, distinguished and often dear relative is dying spiritually of a spiritual disease, are inconceivable to one who has not experienced them. The weakness of the human heart, which so often attaches itself to an unworthy object, the weakness of the human mind, prone to conceit and self-assurance in personal opinions, involve people in a welter of emotions that blind their judgment and lead them far astray. In the East, where the sense of family to this day is still strongly clannish, its members cling to each other much more intensely than in the West. No matter what Yahya had done there was a lingering feeling in the family that, after all, some reason must be on his side, not all justification in a “family matter was necessarily on Bahá’u'lláh’s side. One can readily see that if even the faintest trace of such an attitude existed amongst members of Bahá’u'lláh’s own family the children would not grow up to see Covenant-breaking in its true proportions. The flaw would be there, the most dangerous of all human doubts, that after all the Perfect One might not under all circumstances be perfect, but sometimes just a little prone to error in judging others. When this doubt enters the germs are present in one’s own system, perhaps to lie dormant forever, perhaps to flare up into disease. It has always seemed to me that the division which took place in  122  Bahá’u'lláh’s family after His ascension, and the successive disaffections two generations later of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entire family from Shoghi Effendi, had begun in an attitude of mind that developed in the Baghdad days before Bahá’u'lláh had even declared His Mission. The root was back there, the poisonous fruit garnered eighty years later…

The Covenant-breaking inside the family of Bahá’u'lláh was like a vine, it entwined the tree and strangled it; wherever its tendrils reached out it plucked up what it would itself about and destroyed that too. This is why so many of the minor relatives, the secretaries, the members of the community surrounding the Centre of the Cause, became involved in the periodic disaffections of various members of the family and every time one of these diseased members was lopped off, some blinded sympathizers went too.

It looks simple on paper. But when year after year a house is torn by heart-breaking emotions, shaken by scenes that leave one’s brain numb, one’s nerves decimated and one’s feelings in a turmoil, it is not simple, it is just plain hell. Before a patient lies on the operating table and the offending part is removed there is a long process of delay, of therapeutic effort to remedy the disease, of hope for recovery. So it is with Covenant-breaking; the taint is detected; warning, remonstrance, advice follow; it seems better; it breaks out again, worse than before; convulsive situations arise - repentance, forgiveness follow - and then all over again, the same thing, worse than before, recommences. With infinite variations this is what took place in the lifetimes of Bahá’u'lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.

It is all history now and there is no use recapitulating it case by case. But I believe one thing should be made clear. Whereas we ordinary human beings react in one way, these extraordinary human beings react in an entirely different way. They are, in such matters - however great the difference in their own stations - entirely different from us. I used to wonder, in the early years of my life with the Guardian, why he go so terribly upset by these happenings, why he reacted so violently to them, why he would be prostrated from evidences of Covenant-breaking. Gradually I came to understand that such beings, so different from us, have  some sort of mysterious built-in scales in their very souls; automatically they register the spiritual state of others, just as one side of a scale goes down instantly if you put something in it because of the imbalance this creates. We individual Bahá’ís are like the fish in the sea of the Cause, but these beings are like the sea itself, any alien element in the sea of the Cause, so to speak, with which, because of their nature, they are wholly identified, produces an automatic reaction on their part; the sea casts out its dead.

Shoghi Effendi, forced often to announce publicly the spiritual downfall of not only well-known Bahá’ís but the members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own family, refers to the latter as “those whose acts proclaim their severance from the Holy Tree and their forfeiture of their sacred birthright.” His heart, he said, was oppressed by the “repeated defections” of the “unworthy kindred” of the beloved Master, defections which, he made clear, were a “process of purification whereby an inscrutable Wisdom chose from time to time to purge the body of His chosen followers of the defilement of the undesirable and the unworthy…” Shoghi Effendi pointed out that those who are inimical to the Faith always seize upon evidences of this purification process as a symptom of oncoming schism which they hopefully anticipate will bring about its downfall. But which never has.

Even though this phenomenon of Covenant-breaking seems to be an inherent aspect of religion this does not mean it produces no damaging effect on the Cause. On the contrary, as Shoghi Effendi cabled the Bahá’ís after the death of a relative: “time alone will reveal extent havoc wreaked this virus violation injected fostered over two decades ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s family”. It does not mean that much of it could not be avoided through greater individual effort and loyalty. Above all it does not mean that a devastating effect is not produced on the Centre of the Covenant himself. Shoghi Effendi’s whole life was darkened by the vicious personal attacks made upon him. I personally am convinced that the main reason the heart of the Guardian was sufficiently undermined physically for it to stop in 1957 was because of the unbearable strain thirty-six years of interminable struggle with a series of Covenant-breakers had placed upon it. It is only necessary to add that it was the death of his own brother-in-law that provided the occasion for sending the above-quoted cable, for us to catch a glimpse of what Shoghi Effendi repeatedly passed through during his ministry.

On one occasion he cable a believer who was very close to him, and who, he had recently learned, had been very badly treated by a near relative: “Heart overflowing sympathy your sufferings so courageously endured. Would have instantly communicated had I known. Both you I tasted cup disillusionment treatment nearest relatives. Feel close to you realization your sorrows memory your superb continued imperishable services. Praying fervently Holy Shrines Deepest love.”

Perhaps these words from my diary, written between 1940 and 1945, under the influence of what I saw Shoghi Effendi going through in the long shattering crisis that deprived him of his relatives, can better convey the effect of Covenant-breaking:

“He goes on, but it is like a man in blizzard who cannot sometimes even open his eyes for the blinding snow.” “He is like a man whose skin has been burned off…it is a miracle he can keep going.” “I feel sure the tide will turn. but oh, never, never to find Shoghi Effendi as he was! I don’t think anything in this world will ever be able to efface what these last years have done to him! Time is a great healer but it cannot remove scars.” “It seems it is all irretrievably broken.”…

The patience of Shoghi Effendi in handling these terrible situations that arose in his own family is shown by the fact that on one occasion he held for eight months a cable excommunicating his brother while he tried - vainly - to remedy the situation and obviate the necessity of sending a message that was so heart-breaking to him.

Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 120

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admin <![CDATA[New letter from the Universal House of Justice calls for 41 Regional Baha’i Conferences!]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=85 2008-10-21T08:56:54Z 2008-10-21T07:44:17Z The Universal House of Justice, in a new letter dated 20 October to the Baha’is of the World, has announced plans for 41 regional conferences to occur between November and March. Each of these conferences will be attended by two members of the International Teaching Centre.

This announcement comes 1/2 way through the current 5 Year Plan and will no doubt be a pivotal moment in the development of the Cause of Baha’u'llah! What greater proof of the power of the Baha’i Covenant than this unprecedented series of regional conferences spread all over the globe!

Click here to read the message>

The conferences will be held in the following places — we’re determining the countries based on the cities mentioned in the letter.  So please note that a few may be incorrect….

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Accra, Ghana
Almaty, Kazakhstan
Antafagasta, Chile
Atlanta, United States
Auckland, New Zealand
Baku, Azerbaijan
Banglagore, India
Bangui, Central African Republic
Battambang, Cambodia
Bologna, Itlay
Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Cong
Chicago, United States
Dallas, United States
Frankfurt, Germany
Guadalajara, Mexico
Istanbul, Turkey
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kiev, Ukraine
Kolkata, India
Kuala Lampur, Malaysia
Kunching,  Malaysia
Lae, Papua New Guinea
London, England
Los Angeles, United States
Lumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo
Lusaka, Zambia
Madrid, Spain
Managua, Nicaragua
Manila, Phillipines
Nakuru, Kenya
New Delhi, India
Portand, United States
Quito, Ecuador
Sao Paula, Brazil
Stamford, United States
Sydney, Australia
Toronto, Canada
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Vancouver, Canada
Yaounde, Cameroon

Here is a map courtesy of the Changing Times Blog:

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admin <![CDATA[What were some of the challenges to the Covenant after the passing of Baha’u'llah, Part 2]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=84 2009-01-12T13:00:51Z 2008-09-12T09:11:49Z Others who rose against the Covenant after the Passing of Baha’u'llah

Mirza Badi’u'llah

…the youngest son of Bahá’u'lláh who joined hands with his older brother Mirza Muhammad-’Ali, violated the Covenant and rose up in opposition to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Some years passed and he, for reasons of his own, went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, repented his wrongdoings and begged ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to forgive him. With that loving-kindness characteristic of the Master, he was forgiven. On that occasion he wrote and published an epistle addressed to the Bahá’í world, in which he described some of the iniquitous activities of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. However, Mirza Badi’u'llah’s change of heart lasted for only a short time. He allied himself again with Mirza Muhammad-’Ali and resumed his nefarious activities against the Centre of the Covenant. This son of Bahá’u'lláh, who survived his commander-in-chief Mirza Muhammad-’Ali by many years, inflicted much pain and suffering upon both ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 152

Mirza Majdi’d-Din

Married to Mirza Muhammad-’Ali’s sister, he intended to use [Mirza Muhammad-Ali] as a tool — only too willing and wieldy — to nullify the authority of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and obtain power for his own ends. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told him that he would be given a long life, would live on racked with miseries, welcoming death, craving for the release which death brings; but balm would be denied him, until the day when he should see here in this world the complete frustration of all that he had contrived, the total defeat of all his schemes — the vindication and the triumph of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s prophecy was fulfilled. Mirza Majdi’d-Din lived to be more than a hundred years old, stricken down, incapable of movement, shorn of speech, but with eyes to see. In a house fast becoming derelict, which stood next to the Mansion of Bahji, casting a dark shadow alongside its effulgent radiance, this broken man lingered on until 1955. He saw the might of the Covenant triumph over violation. He saw, where he lay, Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian of the Faith — named, raised, and appointed by the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh — in the plenitude of his powers, create for the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh the setting and surroundings that befitted such a mausoleum. Then he died. But before his unhappy fate overtook him dire was the mischief that he wrought.

H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 53

Mirza Diya’u'llah

Bahá’u'lláh’s other son, Mirza Diya’u'llah, was a vacillating person who wavered in his allegiance to the Centre of the Covenant; he was easily manipulated and became a willing tool in the hands of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. He lived in the Mansion of Bahji along with the rest of the family, all of whom were affected by the spirit of Covenant-breaking. Mirza Diya’u'llah died in 1898 not very long after the passing of Bahá’u'lláh. He did not live to take an effective part in all the hostile activities which his brother was conducting against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. After his death ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that He had forgiven him.

Adib Taherzadeh,
The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 165

Mirza Aqa Jan

Among all the companions of Bahá’u'lláh, Mirza Aqa Jan was the only one who had been in close association with Him and was privileged to be His amanuensis. Yet in spite of this great honour bestowed upon him, his pride and ambition prevented him from standing firm in the Covenant, and he opposed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and created much confusion in the minds of Bahá’ís.

Dr. Yunis Khan-i-Afrukhtih, a devoted believer during the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who served the Master as secretary for several years, has left a most interesting account* of the events which took place during his nine years of service in ‘Akká. The following is a translation of an extract from his memoirs concerning Mirza Aqa Jan’s later years in ‘Akká, around 1897:

…At the time of the passing of Bahá’u'lláh, Mirza Aqa Jan, who had fallen from grace, was living an ignominious life. However, as a result of Bahá’u'lláh’s generosity, he had a reasonable income. The Covenant-breakers had secretly resolved to take his life. Probably the reason for this was either to seize his properties or because Bahá’u'lláh had not been pleased with his conduct towards the end of His life. Mirza Aqa Jan discovered their plot and went immediately to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, begged forgiveness for his misdeeds and took refuge in His house…

Later, the Covenant-breakers decided to take advantage of Mirza Aqa Jan’s situation to create trouble and mischief [for 'Abdu'l-Bahá]… They succeeded in establishing a secret link with him and urged him to help them in stirring up sedition among believers. They maintained communication with him and, over a long period, devised a plan to create discord and disturbance within the community. Since Mirza Aqa Jan had been Bahá’u'lláh’s amanuensis and had recorded the words of God as they were revealed, he was induced to arise and himself lay claim to divine revelation.

As a result of their promptings, Mirza Aqa Jan, this ill-fated man, worked for a long time to prepare some writings. In these he claimed that in a dream he had attained the presence of Bahá’u'lláh and had become the recipient of divine revelation and inspiration. These writings contained passages which invoked the wrath of God upon certain believers and were intended to be delivered to them.

Mirza Aqa Jan even claimed that he had received a Tablet from heaven written in green ink, in which he was commanded to save the Faith from the hands of infidels. The false accusations and calumnies with which he charged ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant, were much worse than those which Covenant-breakers had already brought against Him. It was arranged that on a certain day, which should be the time of revolt, Mirza Aqa Jan would hand all these papers written in the same style as his ‘Revelation writings’ to the Covenant-breakers who would then have them transcribed, as in the days of Bahá’u'lláh, in the handwriting of Mirza Majdi’d-Din and disseminated among the Bahá’ís.

Dr. Yunis Khan, in his memoirs, goes on to explain that the Covenant-breakers had decided to put their plans into operation on the day of the anniversary of the ascension of Bahá’u'lláh. They knew that all the believers would then be assembled outside the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh, and so they planned with Mirza Aqa Jan that he should speak openly against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in that gathering, in order to create tension and unrest. At the same time the Covenant-breakers made arrangements for a certain Yahya Tabur Aqasi to be present on that day. He was a high-ranking government official hostile to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá but friendly towards them. His function was to remain out of sight until the expected disturbances had broken out, when he and his men would appear on the scene and take action against the believers. He would then send a report against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to government authorities in Constantinople and request His banishment from the Holy Land.

…Dr. Yunis Khan describes how on the night of the anniversary of the passing of Bahá’u'lláh, as in previous years, all the believers in the area gathered together in ‘Akká and, before dawn, set out for the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh accompanied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. In that holy place they prayed until sunrise, and then retired to the pilgrims’ quarters at Bahji.

Here is Dr. Yunis Khan’s account of what transpired that day:

…After lunch we were seated for a short while… We noticed that the Covenant-breakers were moving actively around us and that there were also a number of strangers. It was not very long before we learned of their plans to create mischief.

Having had afternoon tea, everyone was on the point of going to the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh, when we heard that Mirza Aqa Jan wished to speak and that there were chairs placed for us in front of the Mansion.

This old man who was always prostrating himself at the feet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was now standing on a stool so that he might be seen by all… As he spoke I noticed that he was far from coherent and I waited to catch the import of his words, but eventually became frustrated… I could see that he was filled with fear and was trembling, but I could hear only a few words now and then, such as: ‘As I prostrated myself, I fell asleep…’ ‘The Blessed Beauty told me…’ ‘This letter in green ink was handed to me…’ ‘Why are you sitting idle?’ ‘Why, why?’ Having abstained from sleep the night before, and having now to listen to such ridiculous talk, I became impatient and left. Mirza Mahmud-i-Kashani, a resident believer, protested to Mirza Aqa Jan and soon there was an uproar.

Dr. Yunis Khan adds that just then one of the believers informed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of the incident. As soon as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared, Mirza Aqa Jan ran towards the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh and went inside. A certain Mirza Ali-Akbar, a steadfast believer, immediately ran after him and was able to obtain from Mirza Aqa Jan the writings which were tied in bundles around his waist and hidden inside his cloak. These papers, which were handed to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, were written in the same style as Bahá’u'lláh’s writings, contained many passages attacking ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and were prepared for distribution among the believers.

As a result of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence the Bahá’ís were calmed within a few minutes. Mirza Aqa Jan went to the Covenant-breakers, and the government officials who were standing behind the window of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali’s room found no opportunity to carry out their sinister designs. After this event Mirza Aqa Jan threw in his lot with the Covenant-breakers and became one of their ablest supporters. He died in 1901.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u'llah v 1, p. 319
* The complete memoirs of Dr. Yunis Khan are available as “Memories of Nine Years in Akka

Ibrahim Khayru’llah

“Among the party from the West which came to visit the Master [in 1898] was a man by the name of Ibrahim Khayru’llah. He was a Lebanese Christian who had embraced the Cause in Egypt during Bahá’u'lláh’s lifetime and had moved to the United States in 1892. Two years later he succeeded in converting Thornton Chase, the first western Christian to embrace the Faith of Bahá’u'lláh, and the Master referred to Khayru’llah as ‘Baha’s Peter’. For a few years Khayru’llah taught the Faith to several souls in various parts of the United States. He was the only teacher to whom the believers turned for enlightenment in that vast country.

“During the time that Khayru’llah was turning to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and was loyal to Him, he had succeeded in converting several people to the Faith. In one of his letters to the Master he expresses profound loyalty to Him and gives the news of the conversion of several souls in America…

“But here is an example of how pride and ambition can extinguish the fire of faith which burns in the heart of a believer. There is nothing more vital for a follower of Bahá’u'lláh who becomes successful in teaching the Cause than genuine humility, utter self-effacement and complete servitude toward the loved ones of God. But alas, Khayru’llah was vain and egotistical. As the years went by and he saw the fruit of his teaching work multiply, he became proud and entertained the thought of dividing the Bahá’í world into two parts, he becoming the leader of the Bahá’ís of the West, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that of the East!

“While nurturing these selfish ambitions in his heart, he arrived in ‘Akká and met the Master for the first time. He felt His majesty and authority as well as His love and compassion. For a short while He showed his subordination to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who one day took him to Mount Carmel and there laid the foundation stone of the mausoleum of the Báb on the site purchased by Him and chosen by Bahá’u'lláh Himself.

“In the meantime, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali had discovered signs of ambition and egotism in Khayru’llah which he exploited to the full. Soon a clandestine relationship was established between the two and Khayru’llah became a tool in the hand of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. He joined the infamous band of Covenant-breakers, rose up in opposition against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, disseminated his misgivings among the friends, and published far and wide some of his own ideologies. His defection brought great tests for the believers in the West, but the vast majority of the American Bahá’ís remained faithful to the Cause.”
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 246

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admin <![CDATA[What were some of the challenges to the Covenant after the passing of Baha’u'llah? (Part 1)]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=12 2009-01-12T12:59:38Z 2008-09-09T15:00:22Z The passing of Bahá’u'lláh on 28 May 1892 in the Mansion of Bahji marks the beginning of the most turbulent epoch within the Bahá’í community, an epoch which witnessed the onslaught of the unfaithful against the Cause on a far greater scale than any so far encountered in the course of its eventful history… The blessed remains of Bahá’u'lláh were not yet laid to rest when Mirza Muhammad-’Ali revealed his true self. Up till then he had given the appearance of being loyal to his Father and to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but now he launched his ignoble plans to undermine the foundation of the Covenant and overthrow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, its Centre.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 147


Who was Mizra Muhammad-Ali?

[The] arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh is Mirza Muhammad-’Ali, the eldest son of Bahá’u'lláh’s second wife Mahd-i-’Ulya. He was born in Baghdad in the first year of Bahá’u'lláh’s arrival there. From the early days of his youth, he found that he could not rise to the level of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who was nine years his senior. He lacked those spiritual qualities which distinguished his eldest brother, who became known as the Master from the early days in Baghdad.

The most essential prerequisites for the spiritual survival of all those who were close to Bahá’u'lláh were humility, self-effacement and utter nothingness in His presence. If these qualities were missing in an individual, he would be in great danger of spiritual downfall and eventual extinction.

While ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the Purest Branch, and their illustrious mother were all embodiments of servitude and selflessness, Muhammad-’Ali, his brothers and sister, together with their mother, were the opposite. Although the latter group were all sheltered beneath Bahá’u'lláh’s protection, and flourished through the outpouring of His favours, in reality they were the victims of selfish desires and worldly ambitions. During Bahá’u'lláh’s lifetime they were subdued by His authority and kept under control through His admonitions. At the same time, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali and his brothers were the recipients of a great many favours from the believers who, because of their love for Bahá’u'lláh, honoured and revered them too. Thus these three sons acquired an undeserved prestige and basked in the sunshine of their Father’s glory and majesty.

Inwardly, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali was a faithless person, and he led his two younger brothers in the same direction. But outwardly he utilized the power of the Faith and the resources of the community to bolster up his own image in the eyes of the followers of Bahá’u'lláh. He emerged as an important person in the service of his Father by transcribing some of His Tablets and by the use of calligraphy of which he was a master. From the days of his youth he entertained the ambition to occupy a position of eminence within the Faith, a position similar to that of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who, from early on, had distinguished Himself among the entire family.

In Muhammad-’Ali’s childhood Bahá’u'lláh conferred upon him the power of utterance, and this became obvious as he grew up. But instead of utilizing this gift to promote the Cause of God, he embarked on a career which hastened his downfall. When he was in his early teens in Adrianople, he composed a series of passages in Arabic and without Bahá’u'lláh’s permission disseminated them among some of the Persian Bahá’ís, introducing them as verses of God which, he claimed, were revealed to him. He intimated to the believers that he was a partner with Bahá’u'lláh in divine Revelation. Several believers in Qazvin were influenced by him and drawn to him.

…In his writings, which are of considerable length, the teen-age Muhammad-’Ali refers to himself, among other things, as ‘the King of the spirit’, calls on the believers to ‘hear the voice of him who has been manifested to man’, admonishes those who deny his verses revealed in his childhood, declares his revelation to be ‘the greatest of God’s revelations’, asserts that ‘all have been created through a word from him’, considers himself to be ‘the greatest divine luminary before whose radiance all other suns pale into insignificance’, and proclaims himself to be ‘the sovereign ruler of all who are in heaven and on earth’.

Such preposterous claims, such a display of personal ambition, evoked the wrath of Bahá’u'lláh, who rebuked him vehemently and chastised him with His own hands.”
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 125

What did Mirza Muhammad-Ali do after the passing of Baha’u'llah?

Far from being allayed by the provisions of a Will which had elevated him to the second-highest position within the ranks of the faithful, the fire of unquenchable animosity that glowed in the breast of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali burned even more fiercely as soon as he came to realize the full implications of that Document. All that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá could do, during a period of four distressful years, His incessant exhortations, His earnest pleadings, the favors and kindnesses He showered upon him, the admonitions and warnings He uttered, even His voluntary withdrawal in the hope of averting the threatening storm, proved to be of no avail. Gradually and with unyielding persistence, through lies, half-truths, calumnies and gross exaggerations, this “Prime Mover of sedition” succeeded in ranging on his side almost the entire family of Bahá’u'lláh, as well as a considerable number of those who had formed his immediate entourage. …Even Mirza Aqa Jan, who for forty years had labored as Bahá’u'lláh’s amanuensis, as well as Muhammad-Javad-i-Qasvini, who ever since the days of Adrianople, had been engaged in transcribing the innumerable Tablets revealed by the Supreme Pen, together with his entire family, threw in their lot with the Covenant-breakers, and allowed themselves to be ensnared by their machinations.

Mount Carmel circa 1890 -- the cave of Elijih is on the bottom right

A view of Mount Carmel circa 1890. After the passing of Baha’u'llah ‘Abdu’l-Baha spent time near the cave of Elijah (buildings on the lower right of the mountain) in order to grieve over the loss of his beloved Father and find solace from the attacks of Mirza Muhammad-Ali and his family.

Forsaken, betrayed, assaulted by almost the entire body of His relatives, now congregated in the Mansion and the neighboring houses clustering around the most Holy Tomb, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, already bereft of both His mother and His sons, and without any support at all save that of an unmarried sister, His four unmarried daughters, His wife and His uncle (a half-brother of Bahá’u'lláh), was left alone to bear, in the face of a multitude of enemies arrayed against Him from within and from without, the full brunt of the terrific responsibilities which His exalted office had laid upon Him.”
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245

In a celebrated Tablet, the Lawh-i-Hizar Bayti (Tablet of One Thousand Verses) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes the grievous events which occurred immediately before and just after the ascension of Bahá’u'lláh. He states that during the days of Bahá’u'lláh’s illness, He, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, was in attendance on His blessed Person by day and by night, most of the time in a state of deep sorrow and depression. One day as He lay in His sick-bed, Bahá’u'lláh ordered ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to gather all those of His papers which were in the room and place them in two special cases. It was Bahá’u'lláh’s practice that whenever He left the Mansion for ‘Akká or elsewhere, He used to put all His papers in these large cases. Aware of the implications of this command, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was shaken to the very depths of His being. As He hesitated to comply, Bahá’u'lláh reiterated His orders. With trembling hands and tearful eyes, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was beginning to gather the papers when Majdu’d-Din entered the room.

…In this Tablet, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá further describes the agony of His heart as He forced Himself to gather Bahá’u'lláh’s papers. Seeing  Majdu’d-Din, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked for his assistance, so that this task, so extremely painful to Him, might be soon finished. When all the papers, the seals and other items had been locked into the cases, Bahá’u'lláh said to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘These two now belong to you.’ These words, implying the approach of the final hours of Bahá’u'lláh’s earthly life, pierced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s heart like an arrow.

When the ascension took place, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s grief knew no bounds. The shock He sustained as a result of this calamitous event was so intense that He found it difficult to describe it. He says that in the morning, along with His brother, He began the task of preparing the remains for burial. When they were about to wash Bahá’u'lláh’s blessed body, Mirza Muhammad-’Ali suggested to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that since the floor would become wet, it would be better to take the two cases out of the room into Badi’u'llah’s room. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at that point in such a state of shock and grief that He was almost unconscious of His surroundings. He never thought that behind this suggestion could be a treacherous plot designed to rob Him of that precious trust.

He agreed, and the two cases were taken out and that was the last He saw of them.

The sacred remains were laid to rest that same day. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was disconsolate and heartbroken. He says that for three consecutive days and nights He could not rest a single moment. He wept for hours and was in a state of unbearable grief. The Light of the World had disappeared from His sight and all around Him had been plunged into darkness. On the fourth night after the ascension, He arose from His bed around midnight and walked a few steps hoping that it might help to bring a measure of tranquillity to His agonized heart. As He began to pace the room, He saw through the window a scene His eyes could scarcely believe. His unfaithful brothers had opened the cases and were looking through Bahá’u'lláh’s papers, those papers which had been entrusted to Him!

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was deeply disturbed by the treachery of His brothers so soon after the ascension of their Father. This act of unfaithfulness committed so dishonourably against the most sacred trust of God, inflicted further pain and suffering upon His sorrow-laden heart. He returned to His bed immediately after this incident, for He did not wish His brothers to know He had seen them interfering with the contents of the cases. At this point ‘Abdu’l-Bahá thought to Himself that since His brothers had not seen the Will and Testament of Bahá’u'lláh, which was in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s possession, they were trying to find some document among His Writings with which to justify their intended action of undermining the foundation of the Cause of God and creating a division within the ranks of its avowed supporters. However, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hoped, when they saw the Will and Testament, their efforts would be frustrated and they would then return His trust to Him.

But alas, this did not happen! The Kitáb-i-’Ahd was read by Aqa Riday-i-Qannad on the ninth day after the ascension of Bahá’u'lláh in the presence of nine witnesses chosen from among Bahá’u'lláh’s companions and members of Bahá’u'lláh’s family, including Mirza Muhammad-’Ali. On the afternoon of the same day it was read by Majdu’d-Din in the Shrine of Bahá’u'lláh before a large company of the friends, consisting of the Aghsan, the Afnan, the pilgrims and resident believers. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says that after the Kitáb-i-’Ahd was read and its contents noted, some rejoiced with exceeding gladness and some grieved with great sorrow. The faces of the faithful were illumined with the light of joy, and those of the falsehearted were covered in the dust of despondency and gloom. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that on that day the foundations of Covenant-breaking were laid, the ocean of vain imagining began to surge, and the fire of dissension and strife was lit, its flame burning more fiercely with the passage of time and consuming the hearts and souls of the faithful in its tormenting heat.

Soon after that historic day when the Kitáb-i-’Ahd was read, one of the Afnan asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to use one of Bahá’u'lláh’s blessed seals to seal a Tablet which had been revealed by Bahá’u'lláh in his honour. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked His brothers to give Him the seals of Bahá’u'lláh which had been placed in the cases, they pleaded ignorance, saying they did not know anything about the two cases! Bewildered and perplexed by such a remark, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was plunged further into sorrow and grief. He describes how His whole being began to tremble when He heard such a response from His brothers, and knew that great tests and trials lay ahead.

Indeed the Kitáb-i-’Ahd had the same effect on the believers as an examination paper does on the pupils: divided into two categories, those who pass and those who fail. As soon as the contents of the Kitáb-i-’Ahd were made public the community was divided into two. Those who remained faithful to its sacred provisions rose to exalted realms of certitude and entered the ark of salvation. Those who violated the provisions were spiritually cast out of the community and returned to the deadly abodes of their own self and passions.

Although the violation of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh began in earnest immediately after His ascension, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not disclose the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-’Ali, and a host of others who followed him in the Holy Land, to the believers in the East or the West. He tried, as He put it, to stop the foul odour of Covenant-breaking from spreading. He endured in silence for about four years all the suffering and humiliation that they heaped upon Him, as well as their onslaught against the Cause of which He was the only Centre. During these years He endeavoured to His utmost to guide these wayward people, who were intent upon destroying the Edifice of the Cause of God, to the path of truth and to infuse into their dying souls the breath of life. But they were haughty and vainglorious, and His loving counsels and admonitions did not penetrate the hardness of their hearts. At the end it was they themselves who disseminated their evil suggestions and vain imaginings among the believers.

The whole story of the violation of the Covenant by Mirza Muhammad-’Ali was initially made public by himself. Soon the disease spread through Persia and later in the West, and the plague of Covenant-breaking encompassed the community of the Most Great Name everywhere. Consequently ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote innumerable Tablets in which He told the story of Covenant-breaking, unmasked the ugly face of this misguided rebellion, named the violators of the Covenant, demonstrated their unfaithfulness and their evil designs and expatiated on His own sufferings at their hands. He elucidated in great detail the basic principles of the Covenant, its origins, its power and its indestructibility. He also urged the believers to remain steadfast in the Covenant, and inspired them to scale loftier heights in service to His Cause.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p.149-151

Mirza Muhammad-’Ali tried different means by which to bring about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s death. One of his men, on two different occasions, placed poison in a jug of His drinking water. This was discovered in time. On another occasion one of the Covenant-breakers carried a dagger hidden under his clothes with the intention of taking ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life but he did not succeed in his attempt. Later both men regretted their actions. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá forgave one and turned a blind eye to the other. These two later left the Holy Land and went to Tihran.

Before incarceration was imposed on Him, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá used to frequent the city of Haifa to supervise the building work on the Shrine of the Báb. He used to meet the believers in the evenings and often late in the night He would proceed to His residence. Always, against His wishes, some believer concerned for His protection would walk a few yards behind Him. Late one night a gunman hired by Mirza Muhammad-’Ali fired three shots at the Master, all of which failed to hit Him. The believer who was walking behind rushed forward and the gunman ran away. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not show the slightest sign of perturbation at this incident and kept on walking, as always, with great dignity and majesty.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 206

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admin <![CDATA[What is the difference between interpretations of the Guardian and elucidations of the Universal House of Justice?]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=73 2008-09-01T11:45:31Z 2008-09-01T11:45:31Z The questions you pose, arising out of an email conversation between yourself and one of the other contributors to the discussion group in which you participate, are of fundamental importance, and the House of Justice warmly appreciates the spirit of your enquiry.

The issues raised seem to resolve themselves into two points: the first being whether or not the Universal House of Justice has the authority to make authoritative interpretations; the second is whether anyone has the right to challenge the authority or actions of the Universal House of Justice. When these issues are approached with an understanding of the unity underlying all the Teachings, clarification results. Should the seeker, however, be influenced by a spirit of mistrust and conflict, then unending problems appear.

The above points have both been covered in three letters written by the Universal House of Justice on 9 March 1965, 27 May 1966 and 7 December 1969. Unfortunately it seems that many of the friends have not studied these letters deeply or understood their implications. Already in “The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh” Shoghi Effendi has shown, beyond any doubt, that the function of making authoritative interpretations of the Teachings is confined solely and exclusively to the Guardian. Neither the Universal House of Justice, nor any other institution, person or group of persons can assume that function. That the Universal House of Justice will never infringe on the functions reserved to the Guardian is shown, not only by its own words and actions, but by Shoghi Effendi’s statement in that same document: “Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other.” It is guaranteed by the fact that the Universal House of Justice as well as the Guardian are both “under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One”.

In its letter of 9 March 1965, the House of Justice has stated: “There is a profound difference between the interpretations of the Guardian and the elucidations of the House of Justice in exercise of its function to deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure, and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book.’” The friends will come to understand what this difference is by observing how the House of Justice functions and by turning to it for explanations when necessary.
Written on behalf of the universal House of Justice, 3 June 1997, Issues related to the Study of the Baha’i Faith, paragraph 1-4

The Universal House of Justice has received your letter dated 4 September 1984 in which you seek further clarification about the qualitative difference between the Guardian’s prerogative of interpretation and the power of elucidation of the Universal House of Justice, and raise questions about other aspects of the Teachings. We are directed to convey the following comments.

As you are aware, the Universal House of Justice has written three major messages which explain, among other things, the duties and functions shared by the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice, and those functions that are unique to each specific Institution. These messages are published in Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 44-56, and pp. 81-91, and in Messages of the Universal House of Justice 68-73, pp. 37-44.1 In relation to their specific functions, Shoghi Effendi explained that “it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating in matters not expressly revealed in the teachings.”

The use of the term “elucidation” by the Universal House of justice and the process by which it is implemented are based on passages in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and statements in the writings of the Guardian. For example, in the Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states:

“It is incumbent upon these members (of the Universal House Of Justice) to … deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book . . . and bear upon daily transactions, . . .” (p. 20)

Further, in response to a question raised by the American National Spiritual Assembly about the Universal Court of Arbitration, the Guardian in a letter dated 9 April 1923, defined such explanation as being in the domain of the Universal House of Justice and anticipated its function of elucidation:

“… regarding the nature and scope of the Universal Court of Arbitration, this and other similar matters will have to be explained and elucidated by the Universal House of Justice, to which, according to the Master’s explicit Instructions, all important fundamental questions must be referred….” (Bahá’í Administration, P. 47)

In a letter dated 9 March 1965, the Universal House of Justice stresses the “profound difference” that exists between the “interpretations of the Guardian and the elucidations of the House of Justice in exercise of its function to ‘deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure, and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book.”‘ (Wellspring of Guidance, p. 52) Among these is the outlining of such steps as are necessary to establish the World Order of Bahá’u'lláh on this earth. The elucidations of the Universal House of Justice stem from its legislative function, while the interpretations of the Guardian represent the true intent inherent in the Sacred Texts. The major distinction between the two functions is that legislation with its resultant outcome of elucidation is susceptible of amendment by the House of Justice itself, whereas the Guardian’s interpretation is a statement of truth which cannot be varied.

Shoghi Effendi has given categorical assurances that neither the Guardian nor the Universal House of Justice “can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other.” Therefore, the friends can be sure that the Universal House of Justice will not engage in interpreting the Holy Writings. . . .
Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, 25 Oct 1984, Messages of the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986, p. 645

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admin <![CDATA[Can the Universal House of Justice function properly without a living Guardian?]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=82 2009-03-22T09:40:30Z 2008-08-23T10:00:16Z After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consultation which included consideration of the views of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.
The Universal House of Justice, 9 October 1963

It must be also clearly understood by every believer that the institution of Guardianship does not under any circumstances abrogate, or even in the slightest degree detract from, the powers granted to the Universal House of Justice by Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will. It does not constitute in any manner a contradiction to the Will and Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, nor does it nullify any of His revealed instructions. It enhances the prestige of that exalted assembly, stabilizes its supreme position, safeguards its unity, assures the continuity of its labours, without presuming in the slightest to infringe upon the inviolability of its clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction. We stand indeed too close to so monumental a document to claim for ourselves a complete understanding of all its implications, or to presume to have grasped the manifold mysteries it undoubtedly contains. …
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 8)

The infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, operating within its ordained sphere, has not been made dependent upon the presence in its membership of the Guardian of the Cause. Although in the realm of interpretation the Guardian’s pronouncements are always binding, in the area of the Guardian’s participation in legislation it is always the decision of the House itself which must prevail. This is supported by the words of the Guardian:

“The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive right and prerogative is to pronounce upon and deliver the final judgement on such laws and ordinances as Bahá’u’lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested.

“Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members, but is bound to insist upon a reconsideration by them of any enactment he conscientiously believes to conflict with the meaning and to depart from the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh’s revealed utterances.”
However, quite apart from his function as a member and sacred head for life of the Universal House of Justice, the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, had the right and duty “to define the sphere of the legislative action” of the Universal House of Justice. In other words, he had the authority to state whether a matter was or was not already covered by the Sacred Texts and therefore whether it was within the authority of the Universal House of Justice to legislate upon it. No other person, apart from the Guardian, has the right or authority to make such definitions. The question therefore arises: In the absence of the Guardian, is the Universal House of Justice in danger of straying outside its proper sphere and thus falling into error? Here we must remember three things: First, Shoghi Effendi, during the thirty-six years of his Guardianship, has already made innumerable such definitions, supplementing those made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and by Bahá’u’lláh Himself. As already announced to the friends, a careful study of the Writings and interpretations on any subject on which the House of Justice proposes to legislate always precedes its act of legislation. Second, the Universal House of Justice, itself assured of divine guidance, is well aware of the absence of the Guardian and will approach all matters of legislation only when certain of its sphere of jurisdiction, a sphere which the Guardian has confidently described as “clearly defined”. Third, we must not forget the Guardian’s written statement about these two Institutions: “Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other.”
The Universal House of Justice, 27 May 1966, paragraphs 7-10

Concerning the statement by Shoghi Effendi…: ‘Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship, the World Order of Bahá’u'lláh would be mutilated’, it must be emphasized that although there are no more Guardians after Shoghi Effendi, the institution of the Guardianship will always exist. Consider for example, that when the Prophet leaves this world, the position He occupies within His religion is not lost. For instance, Bahá’u'lláh is the Author of the Faith. Access to Him during His ministry was mainly through His Writings. It is the same after His ascension, He will always be the Author of the Faith, and the way to approach Him is through His Writings. Likewise, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will always be the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh. The fact that He has ascended to the next world does not alter His position in the Faith. In order to turn to Him, one must turn to His Writings.

It is the same with the institution of the Guardianship. Shoghi Effendi is the Guardian of the Faith. During his ministry the believers received guidance through his writings and continue to do so after his passing. The institution of the Guardianship will always serve as a pillar supporting the mighty structure of the Administrative Order, regardless of whether the Guardian is living or not. The writings of Shoghi Effendi will continue to guide and sustain the ever-advancing community of the Most Great Name. Today, the Universal House of Justice, before taking decisions on various matters whether in the field of legislation or administration, consults the writings of Shoghi Effendi and is guided by the vast body of his letters, in which he has elucidated almost every conceivable subject. Thus, far from being divorced from the World Order of Bahá’u'lláh, the institution of the Guardianship plays a preponderating role now and for ever, in conjunction with the institution of the Universal House of Justice, in guiding and directing the Bahá’í community toward its ultimate goal — the establishment of the oneness of mankind on this planet.

…That ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament makes provision for a successor to Shoghi Effendi does not necessarily mean that there will be one. …In this connection, the Universal House of Justice states:

Future Guardians are clearly envisaged and referred to in the Writings, but there is nowhere any promise or guarantee that the line of Guardians would endure forever; on the contrary there are clear indications that the line could be broken. Yet, in spite of this, there is a repeated insistance in the Writings on the indestructibility of the Covenant and the immutability of God’s Purpose for this Day. One of the most striking passages which envisage the possibility of such a break in the line of Guardians is in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas itself:

‘The endowments dedicated to charity revert to God, the Revealer of Signs. No one has the right to lay hold on them without leave from the Dawning-Place of Revelation. After Him the decision rests with the Aghsan (Branches), and after them with the House of Justice — should it be established in the world by then — so that they may use these endowments for the benefit of the Sites exalted in this Cause, and for that which they have been commanded by God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful. Otherwise the endowments should be referred to the people of Baha, who speak not without His leave and who pass no judgment but in accordance with that which God has ordained in this Tablet, they who are the champions of victory betwixt heaven and earth, so that they may spend them on that which has been decreed in the Holy Book by God, the Mighty, the Bountiful.’ [paragraph 42]

The passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 precipitated the very situation provided for in this passage, in that the line of Aghsan ended before the House of Justice had been elected. Although, as is seen, the ending of the line of Aghsan at some stage was provided for, we must never underestimate the grievous loss that the Faith has suffered. God’s purpose for mankind remains unchanged, however, and the mighty Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh remains impregnable.
[7 December 1969]

The above passage in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was prophetic, in that a period of over five years separated the passing of Shoghi Effendi from the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, and the Hands of the Cause during this period — ‘the people of Baha who speak not without His leave’ — fulfilled the last provision stated in the above text.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 386-391

For more information please read the documents in the compilation “The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice“. Also, to read a commentary on this topic, click here >

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admin <![CDATA[What challenge to the Covenant occurred after the passing of Shoghi Effendi?]]> http://covenantstudy.org/?p=80 2009-03-22T09:38:34Z 2008-08-17T15:31:45Z The claim of Mason Remey

The death of Shoghi Effendi had really been like an arrow shot into our hearts. Each one struggled with his bereavement in his own way. One of us, Mason Remey, one of the oldest and most distinguished, solved his personal dilemma by concluding that the Bahá’í Faith could not go on without a Guardian and that undoubtedly Shoghi Effendi’s successor was himself — for various invalid and unprovable reasons, such as that he was one of the earliest, famous believers of the West, had been made a Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi and President of the International Bahá’í Council. All this was true, but it still did not make him the second Guardian. Mason Remey’s activities, beginning in 1960, when he “proclaimed” himself the second Guardian, were a profound source of embarrassment to his fellow-Hands who, in addition to all their other heavy, heartbreaking responsibilities, now found themselves obliged to progressively remonstrate with, admonish, warn, expose and finally excommunicate him. This extraordinary and sudden display of unexpected pride and conceit passed over the Bahá’í world, producing a brief flutter in France, a passing ripple in Chile and sundry vibrations in the United States, Pakistan and one or two other countries, and was soon gone forever. For those who, like myself and Paul Haney, had known and loved him all our lives, and Milly Collins, who had been a particularly old friend and co-worker, it was a very bitter and tragic experience. Unfollowed and unmourned, alone and isolated in his old age, when he died he was buried by his young secretary who was not a Bahá’í. Although this whole episode had no effect on the Faith, it added to the burdens of the Custodians, consumed hours of consideration better spent on constructive matters, and saddened our hearts. Like any branch cut off from the root, the Remey incident withered away.
Ruhiyyih Khanum, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 15

When it became clear that Shoghi Effendi had not appointed a successor to himself, some Bahá’ís failed to …[understand] the spirit of the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh, [and] insisted that a second Guardian must be created. Mason Remey, an ambitious individual, became the candidate, and with constant encouragement by a few equally ambitious men he claimed in 1960 that he was the successor of Shoghi Effendi. Sadly however, this was like trying to make a flower from paper and pretend that it was real.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament extolled Shoghi Effendi as the ‘Sign of God’, the ‘Chosen Branch’, the ‘blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees’, ‘the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas’. Such a being was created by God especially to become the Guardian of the Cause, and his appointment was made by the Centre of the Covenant Himself. He was a descendant both of Bahá’u'lláh and of the family of the Báb. How could a few individuals who looked for leadership and sought power for their own selfish interests raise up a lesser man to the station of the Guardianship? In His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has laid down the conditions that Shoghi Effendi’s successor must be either the ‘first-born’ of the Guardian or another Ghusn (male descendant of Bahá’u'lláh), and that the Hands of the Cause must give their assent to his choice. How could Mason Remey fulfil these conditions? It is interesting to note that, in a Tablet to the Hand of the Cause of God, Mulla Ali-Akbar, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes this important statement.

…ere the expiration of a thousand years, no one has the right to utter a single word, even to claim the station of Guardianship. The most Holy Book is the Book to which all peoples shall refer, and in it the Laws of God have been revealed. Laws not mentioned in the Book should be referred to the decision of the Universal House of Justice. There will be no grounds for difference… Beware, beware lest anyone create a rift or stir up sedition. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, cited in “Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968″, pp. 47-48

After Mason Remey made his absurd claim, the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land tried their utmost to bring him to his senses. But in his delusion, he persisted on his errant course and consequently he and those few who followed him were announced as Covenant-breakers. The Bahá’í community was once again purged by this process; the impurities which would have imposed dire afflictions upon the Faith had they been allowed to remain within the fold, were cast out, resulting in revitalization of the body of the Cause of God.

This episode of Covenant-breaking by Mason Remey was one of the flimsiest of all rebellions in the history of the Faith. It did not take very long until a number of those who had been misled by him realized their mistake, repented and returned to the community or withdrew from the Faith altogether. Mason Remey’s efforts to form a following for himself failed miserably. After his death, serious rivalries broke out between his lieutenants who claimed to be his successors. The divinely-ordained instruments serving the Covenant of Bahá’u'lláh have been so strengthened today that the efforts of this group of Covenant-breakers have become null and void, and the power of the Covenant has driven them into oblivion.

…Before Mason Remey’s preposterous claim, the wisdom of the words [of] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament that the Hands of the Cause ‘must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor’[paragraph 19] was not clear to many. But after Remey’s defection, it became clear that this requirement was a means for the protection of the Cause of God. If there was to be a successor to Shoghi Effendi, he needed the approval of the Hands, and Mason Remey did not have this.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u'llah, p. 386-391

Mason Remey has had the temerity to assert that the beloved Guardian of the Cause appointed him during his own lifetime as his successor. He builds up his claim by saying that because he was appointed President of the first International Bahá’í Council, he becomes automatically the President of the elected International Bahá’í Council, and later, on its election, Chairman of the Universal House of Justice. To quote his own argument:

‘He who is President of the Universal House of Justice is the Guardian of the Faith for he who is the Guardian of the Faith is President of the Universal House of Justice. These two offices are one and the same. Therefore, when the beloved Guardian Shoghi Effendi appointed me President of the Bahá’í International Council, that, he explained, was the forerunner of the Universal House of Justice that was the Embrionic [sic] Universal House of Justice that would eventually develop into the Universal House of Justice. I or one of my successors in Guardianship would be President of this divinely instituted infallible body, the Universal House of Justice; therefore the Guardianship of the Bahá’í Faith and the Presidency of the Universal House of Justice are one and the same position in the Faith.’

This contention requires a careful study of the Words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Will and Testament, because this sacred document sets forth the conditions requisite for Guardianship in no uncertain terms. We must never forget for a moment that it was the Master Who established the Station of the Guardianship; and in fact appointed the successor of Shoghi Effendi as between Shoghi Effendi’s first born, or another branch (Ghosn).

In the Will He clearly states:

He is the expounder of the Words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants…. [paragraph 16]

It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words: “The child is the secret essence of its sire”, that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he (the Guardian of the Cause of God), choose an other branch to succeed him.[paragraph 18]

…The word “Ghosn” (plural Aghsan) is an Arabic word, meaning “branch”.

Bahá’u'lláh used this word specifically to designate his own male descendants. It does not apply to any other category of people. He gave the title to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of “the Most Great Branch”. His second son, Muhammad ‘Ali was known as “the Greater Branch”; His third son, Midhi, “the Purest Branch”, etc. The Guardian himself is designated in the Master’s Will as “the Chosen Branch”.

…Because of ignorance of the Arabic and Persian languages and the use of these two terms in our Sacred Texts, spurious arguments have been put forth by those making the false claim that Shoghi Effendi could have appointed a successor other than a blood descendant of Bahá’u'lláh.

…Bahá’u'lláh, in writing, in unambiguous terms established the Master as the Centre of His Covenant. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His turn, in His Own handwriting created the beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi as the Centre of His Covenant and specified the conditions of future Guardianship.

Without one written word from the Guardian, Mason Remey claims that because he was the President of the International Bahá’í Council, and because this body is the embryonic international institution, it automatically makes him the President of that future body, and hence, Guardian of the Faith.

If the President of the International Bahá’í Council is ipso facto the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, then the beloved Guardian, himself, Shoghi Effendi would have had to be the President of this first International Bahá’í Council.

If the presidency of the first International Bahá’í Council, which was not an elected body but appointed by Shoghi Effendi was a permanent thing, why did the beloved Guardian himself call for an elected International Bahá’í Council in the future as part of the evolution of this institution and its eventual efflorescence into the Universal House of Justice?

We have not even an intimation in any writing of Shoghi Effendi that the officers of the first appointed International Bahá’í Council would be carried forward into the elected International Bahá’í Council.

…Mason Remey signed the first communication sent out by 26 Hands of the Faith, from Bahji in November, 1957, in which it was stated that as the beloved Guardian had left no Will and no successor, the Hands of the Faith, designated by Shoghi Effendi as the Chief Stewards of Bahá’u'lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth, would carry on the work of the Crusade until the formation of that infallible Body, the Universal House of Justice.

Although Mason Remey, himself a Hand of the Cause, acted as one of the nine Hands in the Holy Land until the end of October, 1959, he never intimated his claim to be the second Guardian to any individual Hand, to the group of Hands serving at the World Centre, or to the body of the Hands gathered in Bahji at their Conclaves.

The first intimation any of us received of this astounding claim was when he mailed us a copy of his proclamation, at a time when it was already in the mail to National Assemblies and individuals.

How can Mason Remey reconcile his assertion that he was appointed by Shoghi Effendi as his successor during his lifetime with the provisions in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that during the lifetime of the Guardian, nine of the Hands of the Cause of God must be elected by their fellow-Hands, and give their assent to the choice made by him of his successor? If the Guardian appointed Mason Remey, why did he go against the provisions of the Will in this important respect? Such an implication is a flagrant attack on Shoghi Effendi himself…
Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, 15 October 1960, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 231

For more information please read “Mason Remey and Those Who Followed Him” and “The Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice“. Also, for an exceptional commentary on the claims of Mason Remey, read this>

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