How the Covenant in the Bahá’í Faith creates and maintains a unified religious community.
NOVEMBER 18 - NOVEMBER 25, 1957
To the Bahá’ís of East and West
Mansion of Bahá’u'lláh Bahji, ‘ ‘Akká, Israel November 25, 1957
Nine days had not yet elapsed after the interment of the sacred remains of our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi in London, when the Hands of the Cause, to the number of twenty-six, assembled at the World Centre of the Faith, in our capacity as “Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u'lláh”, to consult together on the most tragic situation facing the Bahá’ís since the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and to take all necessary and appropriate measures to safeguard the highest interests of our Faith.
On November 18th the Hands conducted a Memorial Meeting at Bahji, in the Haram-i-Aqdas surrounding the most sacred Shrine in the Bahá’í world, afterward entering the Holy Tomb itself and prostrating ourselves in utter humility at the Sacred Threshold.
On the following morning, November 19th, nine Hands of the Cause, selected from the Holy Land, and the several continents of East and West, with (Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, broke the seals placed upon the beloved Guardian’s safe and desk and made careful examination of their precious contents. These same Hands, rejoining the other Hands assembled in the Mansion of Bahá’u'lláh at Bahji, certified that Shoghi Effendi had left no Will and Testament. It was likewise certified that the beloved Guardian had left no heir. The Aghsan (branches) one and all are either dead or have been declared violators of the Covenant by the Guard 36 Guardian for their faithlessness to the Master’s Will and Testament and their hostility to him named first Guardian in that sacred document.
The first effect of the realization that no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him was to plunge the Hands of the Cause into the very abyss of despair. What must happen to the world community of his devoted followers if the Leader, the Inspirer, the Planner of all Bahá’í activities in all countries and islands of the seas could no longer fulfil his unique mission?
From this dark abyss, however, contemplation of the Guardian’s own life of complete sacrifice and his peerless services gradually redeemed our anguished hearts. Shoghi Effendi himself, we knew, would have been the first to remind the Hands, and the widespread body of the believers, that the Dispensation of Bahá’u'lláh has quickened those powers and resources of faith within mankind which will achieve the unity of the peoples and the triumph of His World Order. In this new light of understanding the company of the Hands could perceive with heightened gratitude the existence of those innumerable blessings which Shoghi Effendi had created and left as his true legacy to all Bahá’ís.
Has not the World Centre, with its sacred Shrines and institutions, been firmly established? Has not the Message been established in 254 countries and dependencies? Have not the National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies, forerunners of the Universal House of Justice, been implanted in twenty-six great areas of all continents? Has not the Guardian left us not only his incomparable translations for English-reading Bahá’ís of the Bahá’í Sacred Literature but also his own master works of interpretation which disclose to us the unshatterable edifice of an evolving Bahá’í Order and world community? Has not the Guardian, building upon the enduring foundation of the Master’s Tablets of the Divine Plan, created the World Crusade to guide our work until 1963?
Has not the Guardian, moreover, in his mysterious insight into the present and future needs of the Bahá’í community, called into being the International Bahá’í Council and the company of twenty-seven Hands with their Auxiliary Boards, whom, in his final communication to the Bahá’ís he designated “Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá’u'lláh”?
Such reflections cannot but, in such a world-shattering experience as all Bahá’ís have this month endured, reveal to us how strongly Shoghi Effendi has laid the foundations of the World Order of Bahá’u'lláh through the appointment of Hands of the Cause and likewise the appointment of the International Bahá’í Council, the institution destined to evolve into the Universal House of Justice.
In our capacity of Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Common 37 wealth of Bahá’u'lláh, we Hands of the Cause have constituted a body of nine Hands to serve at the Bahá’í World Centre. This body of nine Hands will energetically deal with the protection of the Faith whenever attacks, whether from within or outside the Bahá’í community, are reported by Hands from their areas or by National or Regional Assemblies or whether they arise within the Holy Land. Correspondence will likewise be maintained with the Hands of the Cause working in the several continents. This same body will correspond with National Assemblies on matters connected with the prosecution of the objectives of the Ton Year Plan. On matters involving administrative questions this same body will assist National Assemblies by citing those passages of the Bahá’í Sacred Literature which direct the Assemblies to a sound solution.
As to the International Bahá’í Council, appointed by the Guardian and heralded in his communications to the Bahá’í world, that body will in the course of time finally fulfil its purpose through the formation of the Universal House of Justice, that Supreme Body upon which infallibility, as the Master’s Testament assures us, is divinely conferred: “The source of all good and freed from all error.” The main work of the Council has been to act as the Guardian’s representative in matters involving the Israeli Government and its courts of law.
Beloved friends! Is not the most precious legacy bequeathed to us all by Shoghi Effendi the privilege of constancy in the Faith of Bahá’u'lláh and devotion in teaching His Message? This is the heartfelt plea we direct to every Bahá’í; The hour has come, as it came with the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, when true Bahá’ís will be distinguished by their firmness in the Covenant and their spiritual radiance while pressing forward the mighty work committed to every area of the world community — to every individual Bahá’í For now our implacable opponents may, and probably will, unleash attacks, assuming in their ignorance that the Faith of Bahá’u'lláh is weakened and defenseless. By consecration of spirit we are armed against all manner of assault and we hold the weapon of Faith with which the triumph of the Guardian’s aims and purposes is assured.
The Hands of the Cause, determined to carry out every aspect of the Guardian’s expressed wishes and hopes, call upon the National Assemblies to proceed with the holding of the Intercontinental Conferences which Shoghi Effendi has planned for 1958, and make each of them a great rallying-point of determination to achieve the tasks of the next phase of the World Crusade. We are, moreover, to keep ever before us the other tasks fixed in the Ten Year Plan as objectives to be won by 1963.
Meanwhile the entire body of the Hands, assembled by the nine Hands of the World Centre, will decide when and how the International Bahá’í 38 Council is to evolve through the successive stages outlined by the Guardian, culminating in the call to election of the Universal House of Justice by the membership of all National Spiritual Assemblies.
When that divinely ordained Body comes into existence, all the conditions of the Faith can be examined anew and the measures necessary for its future operation determined in consultation with the Hands of the Cause.
“0 God, my God! Shield Thy trusted servants from the evils of self and passion, protect them with the watchful eye of Thy loving-kindness from all rancour, hate and envy, shelter them in the impregnable stronghold of Thy care and, safe from the darts of doubtfulness, make them the manifestations of Thy glorious Signs, illumine their faces with the effulgent rays shed from the Dayspring of Thy Divine Unity, gladden their hearts with the verses revealed from Thy Holy Kingdom, strengthen their loins by Thine all-swaying power that cometh from Thy Realm of Glory. Thou art the All-Bountiful, the Protector, the Almighty, the Gracious.”
“O ye that stand fast in the Covenant! When the hour cometh that this wronged and broken winged bird will have taken its flight unto the Celestial Concourse, when it will have hastened to the Realm of the Unseen and its mortal frame will have been either lost or hidden neath the dust, it is incumbent upon the Afnan, that are steadfast in the Covenant of God, and have branched from the Tree of Holiness; the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God (the glory of the Lord rest upon them), and all the friends and loved ones, one and all to bestir themselves and arise with heart and soul and in one accord, to diffuse the sweet savours of God, to teach His Cause and to promote His Faith. It behoveth them not to rest for a moment, neither to seek repose. They must disperse themselves in every land, pass by every clime and travel throughout all regions. Bestirred, without rest and steadfast to the end they must raise in every land the triumphal cry ‘0 Thou the Glory of Glories!’ (Ya Baha’u'l-Abha), must achieve renown in the world wherever they go, must burn brightly even as a candle in every meeting and must kindle the flame of Divine love in every assembly; that the light of truth may rise resplendent in the midmost heart of the world, that throughout the East and throughout the West a vast concourse may gather under the shadow of the Word of God, that the sweet savours of holiness may be diffused, that faces may shine radiantly, hearts be filled with the Divine spirit and souls be made heavenly.
“In these days, the most important of all things is the guidance of the nations and peoples of the world. Teaching the Cause is of utmost importance for it is the head corner-stone of the foundation itself. This wronged servant has spent his days and nights in promoting the Cause and urging the peoples to service. He rested not a moment, till the fame of the Cause 39 of God was noised abroad in the world and the celestial strains from the Abha Kingdom roused the East and the West. The beloved of God must also follow the same example. This is the secret of faithfulness, this is the requirement of servitude to the Threshold of Baha.
Devotedly, in service to the Faith of Bahá’u'lláh,
[Signed as follows]
Dr. R. Mohajer
Dr. A. Vargha
Amelia E. Collins
Leroy C. Ioas
Hasan M. Balyuzi
Agnes B. Alexander
M.B. [Musa Banani]
A. Q. Faizi
H. Collis Featherstone
[Corinne True by affidavit]
[Source: Ministry of the Custodians, p. 35]