The Vision of Shoghi Effendi


A Study


Farzin Aghdasi



Association for Baha'i Studies

University of British Columbia



Spring of 1994




This structured course was formally presented first at the University of British Columbia, and later at the University of the Witwatersrand








1)  Introduction, Aim, Scope, Sources of study, a sketch of his life.


2)   The Institution of Guardianship: Its origin and functions; relationship to the Universal House of Justice; parts of the Will and Testament of `Abd'ul-Baha'.


3)   The stages of development of the Baha'i Faith: Of cycles, ages and epochs.


4)   The World Order of Baha'u'llah: parts of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Kitab-i-Ahdi, and the Will and Testament of `Abd'ul-Baha'.


5)   Covenant Breakers: in the East, the West, and at the World Center.


6)   The writings of Shoghi Effendi.


7)   The onward march of the Faith: of crisis and victory; Tablets of the Divine Plan, the teaching plans and the ten year crusade.


8)   The Hands of the Cause: a legacy of selfless devotion.


9)   Epilogue and summary: the Vision as the impulse and the guide to action.





Time and place:


The classes will be held in room # 215 at the Student Union Building on Thursdays. They will be one and a half hours duration starting at 8:00 p.m. Active and interactive participation is strongly encouraged, but there will be no quizzes or examinations, unless there is a student-led riot to the contrary!


Session                Date

   #1                       13 / Jan.

   #2                       20 / Jan.

   #3                       27 / Jan.

   #4                         3 / Feb.

            Mid-term break       

   #5                       24 / Feb.

   #6                         3 / March

   #7                       10 / March

   #8                       17 / March

   #9                       24 / March







Session 1:  Introduction, Aim, Scope, Sources of study, and a sketch of his life.


1.   The Aim: To study the life, work and vision of Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith.


2.   The Purpose: To deepen our understanding of the role of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in our individual and collective lives; to increase our insight into the current workings of the Cause; to better equip ourselves for informed defense of the Baha'i ideals, and to draw inspiration and spiritual nourishment from the life of the Guardian of the Cause.


3.   The Scope: In this one semester (nine-sessions) course we will attempt to:


      a) Study the historical events associated with the life of Shoghi Effendi,


      b) Examine the organic growth of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in the early stages of its formative age, and


      c) Gain an appreciation, however inadequate, of the vision that guided the beloved Guardian, and its implication for the immediate future of both the Cause of God and the world at large.


4.   Study Material:


      i)  Core material:


            a)  Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, Baha'i Publishing Trust, London, 1969.


            b)  Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah , Selected Letters, Baha'i Publishing       Trust, Wilmette, IL, 1991.


            c)  Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha'u'llah, Part 3, George Ronald, Oxford, 1992.


      ii)  Additional readings from:


            a)  `Abd'ul-Baha', Will and Testament of `Abd'ul-Baha', Baha'i Publishing Trust,       Wilmette, IL, 1971.


            b)  `Abd'ul-Baha', Tablets of the Divine Plan, Rev. Ed. Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette,       IL, 1980.


            c)  Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, rev. ed. Baha'i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, IL, 1974.


            d)  Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, rev. ed. Baha'i Publishing Trust,       Wilmette, IL, 1980.


            e)  Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, 4th ed. Baha'i Publishing Trust,       Wilmette, IL, 1984.


            f)  Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World, to Canada, to Australia and New       Zealand, to British Isles (Unfolding Destiny), etc.


            g)  Ugo Giachery, Shoghi Effendi, Recollections, George Ronald, Oxford, 1973.


            h)  Association for Baha'i Studies, The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, Proceedings of the       Association for Baha'i Studies ninth annual conference, Nov 2-4, 1984, Ottawa, Baha'i       Studies Publishing, Ottawa, 1993.


            i)  Morten Bergsmo, ed., Studying the Writings of Shoghi Effendi, George Ronald,       Oxford, 1992.


      iii) Other References:


            a)  Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, Baha'i Publishing Trust, London,       1988.


            b)  Shoghi Effendi, Call to the Nations, Baha'i World Center, 1977.


            c)  Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, Baha'i Publishing Trust,       Wilmette, IL, 1975.


            d)  Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow, Baha'i Publishing Trust,       Oakham, 1973.





A preliminary consideration for the study of the Faith of Baha'u'llah:




"We will begin our inquiry from the point of view of a confirmed believer who, according to the teachings of Baha'u'llah gives the operation of human reason a central role in search of the truth."




Can a person be a confirmed believer and conduct unbiased inquiry into that which is the object of his adoration?



If the answer is in the negative then are we to discredit reason  in matters of religious inquiry or are we to (or can we ) suspend our faith for the duration of the inquiry?


And if the answer is affirmative then what are the proper limits (if any) of the use of reason in such matters. This question is neither trivial nor irrelevant. It is in fact at the core  of "Baha'i Studies".



The promise of an abiding peace:


"Indeed if an avowed follower of Baha'u'llah were to immerse himself in, and fathom the depths  of, the ocean of these heavenly teachings, and with utmost care and attention deduce from each of them the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom that lie enshrined therein, such a person's life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, will be safe from toil and trouble, and unaffected by setbacks and perils, or any sadness or despondency"  


                                    Shoghi Effendi, cited in The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge                                           and Understanding of the Faith, pp.20.





A brief sketch of his life:


Sunday, March 1st 1897: Born in the house of Abdu'llah-Pasha at Akka to Diyaiyyih Khanum (eldest daughter of Abdu'l-Baha) and Mirza Hadi Shirazi (Afnan, grandson of Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, a cousin of the mother of the Bab and brother of His wife).


1897-1908: Special bonds to `Abdu'l-Baha, received Tablets, was appointed Guardian.


1908-1914: Attended College des Freres in Haifa, boarded at Catholic school  in Beirut, finished high school at the Syrian Protestant College.


1912: Was prevented from accompanying `Abdu'l-Baha to the West.


1918: Obtained B.A. from the American University in Beirut.


1918-1920: Acted as secretary, translator and companion of `Abdu'l-Baha.


Spring 1920: Left Haifa for Balliol College, Oxford.   


Nov. 28, 1921: Ascension of `Abdu'l-Baha.


Dec. 16, 1921: Left London for Haifa.


Dec. 29, 1921: Arrived in Haifa, received the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha.


Jan. 3, 1922: Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha was read to 9 senior members of the family.


Jan. 7, 1922: Memorial meeting for `Abdu'l-Baha.


Jan. 30, 1922: Mirza Muhammad-Ali forcibly took over the Shrine of Baha'u'llah.


Feb. 1922: The House of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad taken over by Shiites.


March, 1922: Called prominent Baha'is to Haifa, and dispatched instructions for the formation of  the first National Assemblies.


April 7, 1922: Left instructions for the beautification and electrification of the shrines; left for Switzerland, the Faith was entrusted to the care of  Bahiyyih Khanum.


Dec. 15, 1922: Returned to Haifa.


April 1923: Avarih agitated the Egyptian Community.


Early Summer-Nov. 1923: retreated to Switzerland.


May 10, 1925: Egyptian court declared independence of the Faith.


1926: Dr. John Esselmont passed away in Haifa.


1926: Martyrs of Jahrum


Sept. 1929: Sailed from England to Cape Town, then by road to Cairo.


July 1932: Ascension of the Greatest Holy Leaf.


March 25, 1937: Married to Mary Maxwell, Ruhiyyih Khanum.


1937: Started the Teaching plans.


Dec. 1939: United the resting places of sister, mother, brother, and wife of `Abdu'l-Baha.


May 15, 1940: Left for U.K.


July 28, 1940: Left for Haifa via Cape Town, Congo and Khartoum.


1948: The Palestinian War.


Nov. 1950: Appointed the International Baha'i Council.


1953: Completed the superstructure of the Shrine of the Bab; launched the Ten Year Crusade.


1957: Israeli Supreme Court ordered final eviction of the remaining covenant breakers from the vicinity of the Shrine of Baha'u'llah.


1957: Completed the International Archives Building


Nov. 4, 1957: Shoghi Effendi passed on in London, U.K.




            a)  The Will and Testament of `Abd'ul-Baha'.


            b)  The Priceless Pearl, pp.455-462, subject index on Shoghi Effendi.


            c)  The Covenant of Baha'u'llah, Chapter 25, pp.280-291.







Session 2:  The Institution of Guardianship: Its origin, functions and relationship to the Universal House of Justice.


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


1.   Isaiah 11:6 : A little child shall lead them.


2.   'Abdu'l-Baha confirmed  the existence of the `little child' in 1897.


3.   `Abdu'l-Baha: "The triumph of the Cause is in his hands".


4.   Some titles: Sign of God, Chosen Branch, Expounder of the Words of God, Light that...shineth from the Dayspring of Divine Guidance.


5.   Kitab-i-Aqdas: Implies the Institution of Guardianship and its discontinuation.


6.   Kitab-i-Ahd and the claims of Mirza Muhammad-Ali.


7.   The dialectic nature of the Revelation; provision for future Guardians; why only one.


8.   Rebellion of Charles Mason Remey and issues relating to the second Guardian.


9.   The International Baha'i Council and its evolution into the Universal House of Justice.


10. The twin Institutions; Divine origins; legitimacy of the Universal House of Justice in the absence of the Guardian.


11. Functions of the Guardian: no priestly roles; twin functions of protection and exposition, Guarantor of the constitution.


12. Systems of governance:  Dictatorship; Autocratic; Monarchy; Aristocracy; Oligarchy; Theocracy; Democracy; Representative responsible government.


13. Encounters with the Divine: Nature; Spirit; Manifestations; Consultative Assemblies.


14. The first act of exposition: consultative bodies have executive power.


15. The Administrative Order as the fruition of the primal oneness deposited  by God in the realities of all created beings.


16. Exposition through compilation and translation of the Writings.


17. The cohesive, educative and animating powers of the Guardian; compare with early Christian history.


18. He was and is the Guardian of our unity in deeds, thoughts, and words.




      a) Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha'u'llah, Part 3, pp.307-313, pp394-407, pp.433-441


      b)  Association for Baha'i Studies, The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, pp.91-127.








Session 3:  The stages of development of the Baha'i Faith: Of cycles, ages and epochs.


1.   Adamic Cycle and Baha'i Cycle.


2.   Three Ages of Baha'i Dispensation (God Passes By pp. 324):   


            a) Heroic and Apostolic Age (1844 - 1921)

            b) Formative and Iron Age (1921 - ??)

            c) Golden Age (?? - ??)


The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha is "the perpetual, the indissoluble link which the mind of Him Who is the Mystery of God has conceived in order to insure the continuity of the three ages that constitute the component parts of the Baha'i Dispensation."

                                                Shoghi Effendi, The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, pp. 51-2


The Administrative Order is the "nucleus... the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace... the whole of mankind."

                                                Shoghi Effendi, The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, p. 52


The Administrative Order was born in the first age, is being implemented within the Baha'i community in the second age, and will evolve into the World Order in the third age.


3.   Organic nature of the Cause and its patterns of growth.


4.   Prophetic statements. Does infallibility imply apriori knowledge of the future?


5.   On social dynamics and mysterious forces. Are the current tools of social sciences adequate for the study of the growth of  the Baha'i Faith? discuss. 


6.   Three Epochs of the Heroic Age: The Master Hero(1844-1853), The Redeemer(1853-1892), The Mystery of God(1892-1921).


7.   Epochs of the Iron Age:


a)  First (1921-1946): Birth and primary stages of the Administrative Order, Initial phase of implementation of the Divine  Plan.

b) Second (1946-1963): National and international expansion and consolidation plans, Spiritual Conquest of the Planet; Hands, Auxiliary Boards, International Baha'i Council, election of the Universal House of Justice.

c) Third (1963-1986): Plans from the Universal House of Justice, emergence from obscurity, socio-economic projects, Board of Counsellors, International Teaching Center, Assistants, Seat of the Universal House of Justice.

d)  Fourth (1986-??): Maturation of the Institutions.


8.   Epochs of the Tablets of the Divine Plan:


a)  First (1937-1963): three phases (1937-1946-1953-1963)

b) Second (1963-??):


9.   Stages of evolution of the Faith (Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 155):


a)  Obscurity

b)  Repression

c)  Emancipation

d)  Recognition

e)  Establishment

f)  The Baha'i State

g)  The Baha'i Commonwealth

h)  The Baha'i Civilization


...successive stages of unmitigated obscurity, of active repression, and of complete emancipation, leading in turn to its being acknowledged as an independent Faith, enjoying the status of full equality with its sister religions, to be followed by its establishment and recognition as a State religion, which in turn must give way to its assumption of the rights and prerogatives associated with the Baha'i state, functioning in the plenitude of its powers, a stage which must ultimately culminate in the emergence of the worldwide Baha'i Commonwealth, animated wholly by the spirit, and operating solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Baha'u'llah.

              Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 15


10. On opposition and ultimate triumph of the Cause.


How great, how very great is the Cause! How very fierce the onslaught of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Ere long shall the clamor of the multitude throughout Africa, throughout America, the cry of the European and of the Turk, the groaning of  India and China, be heard from far and near. One and all they shall arise with all their power to resist His Cause. Then shall the knights of the Lord, assisted by His grace from on high, strengthened by faith, aided by the  power of understanding, and reinforced by the legions of the Covenant, arise and make manifest the truth of the verse: "Behold the confusion that hath been befallen the tribes of the defeated!" 

                           Abdu'l-Baha cited in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 17.



11. Abdu'l-Baha's Tablet of `Seven Candles of Unity'.


a)  Unity in the political realm,

b)  Unity of thought in world undertakings,

c)  Unity in freedom,

d)  Unity in religion,

e)  Unity of nations,

f)  Unity of races,

g)  Unity of language.


12. Abdu'l-Baha's vision for the World Center, Divine Plan, and the World Order .


13. On Lesser Peace, Rise of the Administrative center of the Faith around the Arc on Mt. Carmel, Expansion and maturation of Institutions, Entry by troops, and the end of the twentieth century.


The raising of this Edifice (the International Archives building) will in turn herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice...The ultimate completion of this stupendous undertaking will mark the culmination of the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order...

           Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 74.


This vast and irresistible process, unexampled in the spiritual history of mankind... will synchronize with two no less significant developments -- the establishment of the Lesser Peace and the evolution of Baha'i national and local institutions -- the one outside and the other within the Baha'i world...  

           Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World, p. 74.


This flow, moreover, will presage and hasten the advent of the day which, as prophesied by `Abdu'l-Baha, will witness the entry by troops of peoples of divers nations and races into the Baha'i world - a day which, viewed in its proper perspective, will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour when a mass conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a direct result of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in nature, and which cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly revolutionize the fortunes of the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and reinforce a thousand fold the numerical strength as well as the material power and the spiritual authority of the Faith of Baha'u'llah.

.                                                                    Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 117




14. On the retributive calamity.


The violent derangement of the world's equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of the government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth -- these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God's Messenger in this day...

                                    Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World pp. 103.



15. The analogy of the egg. The world is pregnant; the Administrative Order, the child of the Covenant is growing within the womb of the world, the initial stages of its birth pangs are visible.


As the dusk creeps over a steadily sinking society the radiant outlines of their [Baha'is] redemptive mission become sharper every day. The present world unrest, symptom of a world-wide malady, their world religion has already affirmed must needs culminate in that world catastrophe out of which the consciousness of world citizenship will be born, a consciousness that can alone provide an adequate basis for the organization of world unity, on which a lasting world peace must necessarily depend, the peace itself inaugurating in turn that world civilization which will mark the coming of age of the entire human race.

                                                Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, pp. 22-23


To the general character, the implications and features of this world commonwealth, destined to emerge, sooner or later, out of the carnage, agony, and havoc of this great world convulsion, I have already referred in my previous communications. Suffice it to say that this consummation will, by its very nature, be a gradual process, and must, as Baha'u'llah has Himself anticipated, lead at first to the establishment of that Lesser Peace which the nations of the earth, as yet unconscious of His Revelation and yet unwittingly enforcing the general principles which He has enunciated, will themselves establish. This momentous and historic step, involving the reconstruction of mankind, as the result of the universal recognition of its oneness and wholeness, will bring in its wake the spiritualization of the masses, consequently to the recognition of the character, and the acknowledgment of the claims, of the Faith of Baha'u'llah - the essential condition to that ultimate fusion of all races, creeds, classes, and nations which must signalize the emergence of His New World Order.

             Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 123


...the fifth candle is the unity of nations -- a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of  the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland. 

                                                Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 32


16.  On the impending Apocalypse.


 ...the supreme opportunity for their greatest exploits must coincide with the apocalyptic upheaval marking the lowest ebb in mankind's fast-declining fortunes.


...the wings of yet another conflict, destined to contribute a distinct, and perhaps a decisive share to the birth of the new Order which must signalize the advent of the Lesser peace...

                                                            Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, pp. 58-59


17.  Of hope, joy, and peace. Of constructive social forces. The prospect and promise of world peace.




      a) Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha'u'llah, pp. 370-415.


      b)  Shoghi Effendi, Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, part IV, published as part of The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 143-157.





Session 4:  The World Order of Baha'u'llah


1.   "Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Baha'u'llah, and rendereth thanks unto his Lord."                                 Third Vahid of the Persian Bayan


2.   "The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System - the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed."

                                                                                    Kitab-i-Aqdas para. 181


3.   The Will and Testament of `Abd'ul-Baha' is the Charter for the New World Order


4.   American believers are "the champion-builders of the organic structure of the Cause"

                                                                                                World Order p.52


5.   "Laws and institutions,...can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed."

                                    Shoghi Effendi, cited in Baha'i Youth, a compilation p.10:


6.   Baha'i Faith is "scientific in its method".

                                    Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, p.1


7.   Notice the New World Order in sciences notably in physics, the emphasis on the process and on becoming vs. being, on relativity vs. absolutism, on system dynamics, on chaos, and breakdown of causality, on emerging new paradigms and world views in both hard and social sciences.


8.   The Organic nature of the Administrative Order. The spirit and the body. The channel of the Cause.


9.   Is the Baha'i Faith a syncretism (defined as an attempted union or reconciliation of diverse or opposite tenets or practices, especially in philosophy or religion) ? The sources and implications of such a position.


10. Emmanuel Kant's Essays on Eternal Peace.


11.      Baha'u'llah's tablet to Queen Victoria.


12. Mrs. Ruth White: Authenticity of the will, and other doubts;


13. Issues raised by Denis MacEoin.


14. Partial contents of the seven letters constituting the World Order letters of Shoghi Effendi:


a)  World Order of Baha'u'llah (1929): Refuting arguments of Mrs. Ruth White. Contents: sources of the Baha'i World Order; local and national Houses of Justice; the animating purpose of Baha'i Institutions, situation in Egypt.


b)  World Order of Baha'u'llah, Further Considerations (1930): On the glory of this Day, and the necessity of a visible Order, comparison with both secular systems and ecclesiastical orders of other religions. Contents: a blessing in disguise; distinguishing features of Baha'i World Order; the onslaught of all peoples and kindreds; difference between Baha'i Faith and ecclesiastical organizations; a living organism; the greatest drama of the world's spiritual history.


c)  The Goal of a New World Order (Nov. 28th, 1931): On the state of the world, clarification of contemporary history, and expectation of events in near future, exposition of the implications of the principle of oneness of mankind, a model of the correlation of the teachings with prevalent world issues. Contents: a war-weary world; the signs of impending chaos; the impotence of statesmanship; the guiding principles of World Order; seven lights of unity; a world Super-State; unity in diversity; the principle of oneness; the federation of mankind; the fire of ordeal; the Mouthpiece of God.


d)  The Golden Age of the Cause of Baha'u'llah (1932): On contrast with the past, progressive and relative nature of Truth, the Divine Polity (principle of non-interference in partisan politics), and the station of the Founders of the Faith. Contents: America's contribution to the Cause; decline of mortal dominion; contrast with religions of the past, fundamental principle of religious truth; necessity for a fresh revelation; the station of the Bab; the outpouring of Divine grace; the Divine polity; our beloved temple.


e)  America and the Most Great Peace (1933): On the birth and growth of American Baha'i community, and its mission.


f) The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah (1934): On fundamental, cardinal spiritual verities, clarification of Baha'i doctrinal beliefs, the station of the central Figures of the Faith, and the twin institutions, Guardian's own confession of Faith.


g) The Unfoldment of World Civilization (1936): On the two-fold processes, and future institutions. Contents: humanity's coming of age; the process of integration; the final consummation; pangs of death and birth; universal fermentation; this age of transition; collapse of Islam; deterioration of Christian Institutions; signs of moral downfall; breakdown of political and economic structure; Baha'u'llah's principle of collective security; community of the Most Great Name; a world religion; divine retribution; world unity the goal.




      a) Baha'u'llah, The proclamation of Baha'u'llah, Tablet to Queen Victoria, pp. 112-114.

      b)  Shoghi Effendi,  The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pp. 29-71, 161-209.






Session 5:  Covenant Breakers: in the East, the West, and at the World Center.


In the East:


     `Abdu'l-Husayn Avarih (1853-1953): Native of Taft, clergyman, outstanding teacher, opium user, called to Haifa, fame in West, agitation in Egypt, expulsion, asks for income, he requested  for reinstatement but did not repent, alliance with external enemies, shunned, bankrupt, his books;  `..sordid and treacherous mind...' `...most shameless, vicious, relentless apostate...'


     Faydu'llah Subhi: secretary to Master, followed Avarih, repented from the Faith to Ayatu'llah Burujirdi.


     Fa'iq: American, in Egypt, founded `Scientific Society'.


     Falah: in Iskandarun, `...pride, obstinacy and insatiable ambition...'


     Hasan-i-Niku: teacher of the Faith in India, followed Avarih, three books against the Faith, ignored by the believers.


In the West:


     Ahmad Sohrab (1888-1958): sent to America by the Master to serve Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, secretary and interpreter of the Master, rebelled, formed `The New History Society' and `Caravan of East and West',  attempted to penetrate American Baha'i community, joined the old Covenant breakers, press conference in Haifa and Tel Aviv, wife and daughter faithful, changed their names.


     Dr. Amin Fareed: nephew of Munirih Khanum, son of Mirza Asadu'llah who transported the remains of the Bab to Akka, Interpreter of Abdu'l-Baha in West, MD from U. of Chicago sponsored by the Master, stole `Abdu'l-Baha's seal and collected funds fraudulently, broke the Covenant, was expelled by `Abdu'l-Baha, `...ungovernable cupidity...'


     Mrs. Lewis Stuyvesant (Julie) Chanler: supported Ahmad Sohrab, petitioned President of Israel for property rights of Covenant breakers, representing `free Baha'is'!


     Mrs. Ruth White: challenged authenticity of the Will, petitioned US Postmaster General, her husband repented but could not remain faithful.


     Dr. Herrigel: founder member of German Baha'i Community, followed Mrs. White


     Dyre in Washington; and  Fernald in Chicago;


And at the World Center:


     Mirza Muhammad-`Ali (?-1937): The Greater Branch, son of Baha'u'llah, arch-breaker of the Covenant.


     Mirza Badi`u'llah (?-1950): youngest son of Baha'u'llah,


     Majdu'd-Din (?-1955): son of a faithful brother of Baha'u'llah (Mirza Musa, Aqay-i-Kalim), `...incarnation of Satan...'


     Shu`a`u'llah (?-1950): son of Mirza Muhammad-Ali,


     Musa (?-1950): son of Mirza Muhammad-Ali,


     Haji Siyyid `Ali Afnan: son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan Afnan-i-Kabir, brother of the wife of the Bab, one of the greatest enemies of `Abdu'l-Baha


     Nayyir Afnan (?-1952), greatest enemy of Shoghi Effendi, son of Haji Siyyid `Ali Afnan


     Ruhangiz Rabbani: eldest sister of Shoghi Effendi, married Nayyir Afnan, arranged infiltration of Covenant breaking families into the family of `Abdu'l-Baha by marriage


     Mehrangiz Rabbani (Shoghi Effendi's younger sister), Hasan Afnan and Faydi Afnan, all expelled in Oct. 1941


     Ruhi Afnan (secretary of the Guardian), Fu'ad Afnan, and Thurayya Afnan, children of Tuba Khanum, daughter of `Abdu'l-Baha, expelled in Nov. 1941


     Munib Shahid, son of Ruha Khanum, daughter of `Abdul-Baha, expelled Nov. 1944.


     Husayn Rabbani: younger brother and secretary of the Guardian, expelled April, 1945.


     Riaz Rabbani: youngest brother of Shoghi Effendi, expelled Dec. 1951






The Family Structure:


Baha'u'llah had 3 wives:


a) Asiyih Khanum (?-1886), surnamed Navvab, the Most Exalted Leaf, daughter of Mirza Isma`il-i-Vazir, married in 1835, 7 children, 4 died in childhood, the other 3 are:


            Mirza `Abbas (1844-1921), the Master, the Most Great Branch, `Abdu'l-Baha

            Fatimih (1847-1932), Bahiyyih  Khanum, The Greatest Holy Leaf

            Mirza Mihdi (1850-1870), The Purest Brach


b) Fatimih Khanum (?-1904), Mahd-i-`Ulya, cousin, widow of His younger brother, married in 1849, 6 children, 2 died, the other 4 are (one daughter & 3 sons):



            Mirza Muhammad-`Ali (the Greater Branch),

            Diya'u'llah, and



c) Gawhar Khanum, widow of a Babi martyr, married in Baghdad before Baha'u'llah's declaration, remained in Baghdad, was among Baha'i refugees in Mosul, went to Akka, had one daughter,





`Abdu'l-Baha married Munirih Khanum (?-1938) in 1872 in Akka. They had 4 surviving daughters:


a) Diya'i'yyih Khanum, married Mirza Hadi Afnan, had 3 sons (Shoghi Effendi, Husayn, Riaz) and 2 daughters (Ruhangiz, Mehrangiz) with family name Rabbani


b) Tuba Khanum, married Mirza Muhsin Afnan (?-1927, faithful, son of Haji Mirza Hasan, Afnan-i-Kabir), had 3 sons (Ruhi, Suhayl, Fu'ad) and 1 daughter (Thurayya), with family name Afnan.


c) Ruha Khanum, married Mirza Jalal, son of King of Martyrs, had 2 sons (Munib, Hasan), and 3 daughters (Maryam, Duha, Zahra), with family name Shahid.


      d) Munavvar Khanum, married Ahmad Yazdi, no children.





The Afnan connections:


The wife of the Bab had two brothers:

      Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, and

      Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan Afnan-i-Kabir.


A grandson of Haji Mirza Adu'l-Qasim is Mirza Hadi Afnan, father of Shoghi Effendi.


Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan had two sons:


a) Mirza Muhsin Afnan, faithful, `beloved son-in-law', 'distinguished servant of His Cause', who married Tuba Khanum, daughter of Abdu'l-Baha


b) Haji Siyyid Ali Afnan, an enemy of Abdu'l-Baha, who married Furughiyyih, daughter of   Baha'u'llah, and had 4 sons:


1. Nayyir Afnan (?-1952), the greatest enemy of the Guardian, who married Ruhangiz, the older sister of Shoghi Effendi


            2. Faydi Afnan, who married Thurayya, daughter of Tuba Khanum


            3. Hasan Afnan, who married Mehrangiz, younger sister of Shoghi Effendi


            4. Husayn Afnan





Ghusn, Aghsan, Afnan, Aazam, Azim, Athar, Tahir, Akbar, Kabir, Asghar, Saghir, Leaf, Haji, Mirza, Siyyid, Aqa 




      a) Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha'u'llah, pp. 332-369.









Session 6:  The writings of Shoghi Effendi


Range of his writings: a single book, letters of a general character, replies to questions by individuals (26,000 letters), translations.


Function of the Guardian as expounder of the Holy Text; Personal vs. Authoritative interpretation.


Translations: brought East and West together; made Baha'u'llah's richly decorated language acceptable to Westerners.


Letter vs. Epistle; Epistolary style of general letters.


The style of his writings are as enduring and timeless as his choice of architectural style. Similarity (and superiority) to Edward Gibbons (in historical analysis) and Thomas Carlyle (in rhetoric) in his original works and to King James Bible in his translations of the writings of Baha'u'llah .


Intellectual and emotional balance in the writings of the Guardian.


His signature: your true brother, Shoghi.


Humility in his writings: "fellow coworkers", "can our eyes be so dim..." etc.; deliberate distance from `Abdu'l-Baha's personal style.


Call to action: letters addressed to specific groups with a specific mission; balance of analytical and rhetoric, cognitive and affective aspects. Utopian principles can be implemented through wise leadership.


Clarification of current history (social dynamics, twin processes of integration and disintegration, rhythm of growth, crisis and victory, from infancy to maturity, etc.), leading to the vision of future.


Style preserved in cables; emulated by the Universal House of Justice.


A chronology:


March 1923: Translated the "Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah".


April 1923: Translated portions of the "Kitab-i-Aqdas".


1929-1936: Addressed the seven letters to the American believers constituting the "World Order  of Baha'u'llah". (See notes of session 4 for contents).


1931: Translated the "Kitab-i-Iqan".


1932: Edited and translated "Dawn Breakers" based on Nabil's Narrative.


1935: Compiled and translated the "Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah".


1936-37: Compiled and translated the "Prayers and Meditations of Baha'u'llah".


1939: Wrote "The Advent of Divine Justice": on Baha'i moral standards.


1939-1940: Translated the "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf".


1941: Wrote "The Promised Day is Come": historical analysis of the impact of Baha'u'llah's revelation in the world at large, on kings and clergy, and on political and religious institutions.


1944: Wrote "God Passes By": exposition on history; describes significance of events; reveals dialectic of crisis and victory; gives summary of most important Tablets; explains Covenant, prophesies, World Order, and destiny of America; clarifies the single evolutionary process within the four periods of the first Baha'i century. (Shoghi Effendi read 200 books before writing God Passes By. Title and introduction given by George Townsend.)


1923-1953: Edited 12 Volumes of "The Baha'i World".


Other published works: Call to Nations; Messages to the Baha'i World; Baha'i Administration; Messages to America; Citadel of Faith; Unfolding Destiny; The Light of Divine Guidance, 2 Volumes; Messages to Canada, Dawn of a New Day; Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand; Arohanui, Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand; High Endeavors; Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi; Guidance for Today and Tomorrow; Principles of Baha'i Administration; Directives from the Guardian, Living the Life.




a) Ann Boyles, The Epistolary Style of Shoghi Effendi, in The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, Proceedings of the Association for Baha'i Studies ninth annual conference, Nov 2-4, 1984, Ottawa, Baha'i Studies Publishing, Ottawa, pp. 9-18,1993.


b) Annotated Bibliography of works by and about Shoghi Effendi, in The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, Proceedings of the Association for Baha'i Studies ninth annual conference,  pp. 221-3.


c) Morten Bergsmo, ed., Studying the Writings of Shoghi Effendi, George Ronald, pp. 1-35.





Session 7:  The onward march of the Faith


Shoghi Effendi inherited three working documents:


1.   The Tablet of Carmel: The Charter for the World Center


2.   The Will and Testament of `Abd'ul-Baha': The Charter for the New World Order


3.   Tablets of the Divine Plan: The Charter for the spiritual conquest of the planet


Developments at the World Center:


Obtain, secure, defend, repair and beautify lands and buildings associated with the central Figures of the Faith: shrine of Baha'u'llah, Bahji, Mazra'ih, house of Abbud, shrine of the Bab, International Archives Building, and monument gardens.


Shoghi Effendi increased Baha'i land holdings at the World Center by 50 times to 500,000 m2.


External relations of the Faith with local authorities at the World Center.


Development of the Administrative Order:


1921-1937: 16 years used for raising the administrative institutions in their cradle (North America) capable of planning, organizing, motivating and leading the army of God in its spiritual conquest.


Stages of growth: acceptance of organization; itinerant teachers; construction of the Temple; use of the word 'Assembly'; mass resignations; dissenting views; lobbying; committees; conflict with the publishing committee; confidential voting; direct reports to the Guardian; public criticisms of Assembly members; Feasts; membership lists; alternate Assembly members;  financial status; Baha'is-only functions; Authority of Assemblies over individuals; discretion in secondary matters; beginning to use the Assemblies for teaching the Faith; atmosphere of confidence and collaboration;


Growth of the National Convention: participation; timing; finances; groups and isolated believers; voting by proxy; delegates at large; honorary delegates; nominations; power structures; consultative functions; procedural matters; relation to the National Assembly; status of delegates; the Alfred Lunt affair; Guardian's educative role; the circle of unity;




Features of the new Government: Global (with local/national structure); electoral (based on qualities, primary and secondary elections, confidential, no nominations, diversity of membership, protection of minorities, frequent, no subgroupings, balance of continuity and change); consultative (universal participation, detachment and objectivity, unity in action, role of conscience, circle of unity instead of checks and balances); unified (communication, vision, action); decentralized (adaptive, simple, effective); watchful of spiritual health (institution of the learned); long term welfare of all mankind.


Charter of National Spiritual Assemblies: Baha'i National Constitution of USA, 1927


Pattern of Local Spiritual Assemblies: By-Laws of the Spiritual Assembly of New York, 1931


National Assembly formations: 

                                                1923: British Isles, Germany & Austria, India & Burma

                                                1924: Egypt

                                                1925: USA & Canada

                                                1931: Iraq

                                                1934: Australia & New Zealand, Iran

                                                1948: Canada, the ninth in the world, elected at Maxwell home


Teaching Plans:


1937-1944: The first seven-year plan: strengthening the home front (USA and Canada) and opening the remaining countries in the Western hemisphere.


1946-1953: Second seven-year plan; spiritual conquest of Western Europe.


1953: Centenary of the Siyah-Chal, beginning of the third stage of the first Epoch and the ninth part in the spiritual evolution of mankind; 12 National Assemblies.


1953-1963: The Ten Year Crusade; the spiritual conquest of  the Planet.


The vision conveyed in the plans: praise and acknowledgment of achievements, analysis of conditions (e.g. winds of discord), call to new achievements (use of military vocabulary: spiritual conquest, army of God, mount your steeds, etc.), reminder of fundamental processes (e.g. that tests are given in direct proportion to the importance of the spiritual prize), guidance to individuals and institutions, encouragement and assurance.


Two aspects of vision:   i) nature and purpose of the Cause

                                    ii) conditions - within and without the Faith - under which our work is                                                  performed


Simultaneous geographical spread and growing maturity of the institutions.


Foster a united clarity of vision that helps us understand, welcome, initiate and sustain the process of entry by troops.


Characteristics of growth: organic (nurturing, time critical); dynamics of crisis and victory (given informed faith, intelligent action, and instant, exact, and complete obedience victory will follow crisis); impact of social decline (acceleration of the twin processes of integration and disintegration, purifying influence of suffering); emergence from obscurity.


Factors contributing to growth: spiritual transformation; love and unity (converging views of teaching methods); universal participation; balanced teaching (proclamation, teaching, declaration, confirmation, consolidation, integration); Baha'i model; teaching... ...teaching  ...teaching!




a) J. Jameson Bond, `The Vision of Shoghi Effendi and the Unfoldment of the Tablets of the Divine Plan', in The Vision of Shoghi Effendi, Proceedings of the Association for Baha'i Studies ninth annual conference, Nov 2-4, 1984, Ottawa, Baha'i Studies Publishing, Ottawa, pp. 1-8,1993.


b) L. Bramson-Lerche, `Some Aspects of the Development of the Baha'i Administrative Order in America, 1922-1936' in Studies in Babi and Baha'i History, M. Momen Ed. Vol. 1,  pp.255-300, Kalimat Press, 1982.


c) M. Smith and P. Lample, `The Spiritual Conquest of the Planet, Our Response to the Plans', Palabra Publications, Florida, 1993.


d) `Promoting Entry by Troops', compilation prepared by the Research Department of  the  Universal House of Justice, 1993.


e) John Huddleston, 'Just Government, the Third Dimension to World Peace', in The Baha'i Faith and Marxism, Asoociation for Baha'i Studies, Jan. 1986.






Session 8:  The Hands of the Cause: a legacy of selfless devotion.


'Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of long-suffering hath shone forth, and the declaration of authority is proven of God... ' Baha'u'llah


'The debt of gratitude which mankind for generations, nay, ages to come, owes to this handful of grief-stricken, steadfast, heroic souls is beyond estimation'  Universal House of Justice


Appointments: 4 by Baha'u'llah, 4 by `Abdu'l-Baha, 42 by Shoghi Effendi (10 posthumously, 12 on 24 Dec. 1951, 7 on 29 Feb. 1952, 8 on 2 Oct. 1957, 5 individually)


Functions: Appointed, and under the direction of the Guardian; propagation; protection; elect nine members to serve at World Center; assent to the choice of the next Guardian; "Chief Stewards"; Interregnum; relation to Continental Board of Counsellors and the International Teaching Center; 


" diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words."


Some common characteristics: Fiercely loyal to the Cause; madly in love, fanatically attached and absolutely obedient to the Guardian; mesmerized by the Central Figures and their Writings; envious of its heroes; thoroughly reliant on prayers and the power of Divine assistance;  ceaseless communion with and fear of God; diverse in origin and culture; some with scholarly works; some with strong individual characters; strong powers of persuasion rooted in purity of heart; 'heroes, saints, and administrators'; balanced and mostly humorous; a source of joy to the Guardian.


Appointed Posthumously by shoghi Effendi:


Dr. John Ebenezer Esslemont (1974-1925): Scottish; Declared in 1914; Disciple of Abdu'l-Baha, Herald of the Covenant; "Baha'u'llah and the new era", friend and assistant to the Guardian.


Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardekani, Amin-i-Ilahi (?-1928): became Babi in 1850; messenger and travel teacher for Baha'u'llah; trader and scribe; assistant to Haji Shah-Muhammad-i-Manshadi, Aminu'l-Bayan; Trustee of Huququ'llah in 1880; 1891-3 in prison; continuously traveled during the ministry of `Abdu'l-Baha.


Keith Ransom-Kehler (1876-1933):


Martha Louise Root (1872-1939): "that archetype of Baha'i itinerant teachers and the foremost Hand raised by Baha'u'llah since `Abd'ul-Baha's passing"; responded instantly to the Tablets of the Divine Plan, traveled ceaselessly for 18 years, "Pride of Baha'i teachers", spoke of the faith to prominent people, people of capacity, leaders of thought, like-minded societies etc.; taught Queen Marie of Romania; died in Honolulu.


`Abdu'l-Jalil Bey Sa`d (?-1942):


Siyyid Mustafa Rumi (?-1942):


Muhammad Taqiy-i-Isfahani (?-1946):


Louis Gregory (1874-1951): Son of a freed South Carolina slave; Law degree from Howard University; employed by US Treasury Dept.; became Baha'i in 1908; met `Abdu'l-Baha in Egypt and Holy Land; mainspring behind Race Amity for 35 years; member US National Assembly.


Roy C. Wilhelm (1875-1951):


John Henry Hyde-Dunn (1855-1941):


First Contingent:


Dorothy Baker (1898-1954): From copper to gold; the pearl of Mediterranean.


Amelia Collins (1873-1962): became Baha'i in 1919; long-time member of US National Assembly; Vice-President of International Baha'i Council; her specially generous contributions; Collins gate;


`Ali-Akbar Furutan (1905-?): in Russia; the Tarbiyat school for boys; long-time secretary of Iranian National Spiritual Assembly; services at the World Center.


Ugo Giachery (1896-1989): Italian National Assembly; material for the shrine of the Bab; taught king of western Samoa.


Hermann Grossmann (1899-1968):


Horace Hotchkiss Holley (1877-1960): of Connecticut; Baha'i in 1909; met `Abdu'l-Baha in France; 34 years secretary of US National Assembly; played significant role in development of Administrative order; titled Shoghi Effendi's letters; loved by Guardian; served at the World Center, buried in Haifa.


Leroy Ioas (1896-1965): "dearest and most valued co-worker"; "tireless vigilance, self sacrifice and devotion"; Geyserville school; 


William Sutherland Maxwell (1874-1952): Architect of the Shrine of the Bab.


Tarazu'llah Samandari (1874-1968): three audiences with Baha'u'llah


George Townshend (1876-1957): Anglo-Irish; BA from Oxford in classics and English; Law from Dublin; Utah and life in the wilderness; Bhagavadgita and Anglican priesthood in 1906; English faculty at University of Tennessee; Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral; Archdeacon of Clonfert; a cleric's work for the Faith of Baha'u'llah; books and literary works; proclamation and resignation from the Church in 1947;


Valiyu'llah Varqa(1884-1955): three generations of Hands; son of Ali-Muhammad Varqa, Apostle of Baha'u'llah; assassination of Nasiri'd-Din Shah and the story of Ruhu'llah; trustee of Huquq.


Second Contingent:


Shu`a`u'llah `Alla'i (1889-1984): Iranian Army General and treasurer; services on the National Assembly.


Musa Banani (1886-1971): spiritual conqueror of Africa; illiterate; instant, exact and complete obedience.


Clara Dunn (1869-1960): Knight of Baha'u'llah for Australia.


Dhikru'llah Khadem (1904-1986): Services in Iran and USA.


Adelbert Muhlschlegel (1897-1980): German.


Siegfried Schopflocher (1877-1953): German.


Corinne True (1861-1961): US National Assembly;


Appointed Individually:


Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum (1910-?): Canadian; born Mary Maxwell; Married Guardian in 1937; "..cemented ...union of east and West..."; a shield from covenant breakers; appointed in 1952; liaison between the Guardian and the International Baha'i Council; Custodian; books; expeditions;


Jalal Khazeh (1897-1990): Iranian; appointed in 1953; South American services.


Paul E. Haney (1909-1982): American; appointed in 1954; Custodian; World Center services.


`Ali-Muhammad Varqa (1911): Trustee of Huquq; appointed in 1955.


Agnes Alexander (1875-1971): Mentioned in the Tablets of the Divine Plan; appointed in 1957;


Third Contingent:


Hasan Balyuzi (1908-1980): Afnan; BBC researcher; legacy of scholarship; 


Abu'l-Qasim Faizi (1906-1980): Arabian pioneer.


H. Collis Feathersone (1913-1990): Australian.


John Ferraby (1914-1973): All things made new.


Rahmatu'llah Muhajir (1923-1979): Knight of Baha'u'llah; Mentawai Islands; Architect of mass teaching; fertile mind;


Enoch Olinga (1926-1979): African prodigy; Knight of Baha'u'llah; Father of Victories; tragic death;


John Robarts (1901-1991): Canadian; Knight of Baha'u'llah; African services;


William Sears (1911-1992): American sports caster; champion of firesides;




a) Baha'i World volumes, Baha'i World Center, sections on 'Hands of the Cause' and 'in Memorium'.







Session 9:  Epilogue and summary: the Vision as the impulse and the guide to action.


Shoghi Effendi's sense of urgency and immense concentration; the dynamic force of the example of his life and dedication to service; his personal traits of gentleness and God given qualities of leadership;


Faizi's Meditations on the Eve of November the 4th: the twin surging seas; "How can seas of emotion be poured in chalices of words, though they be of gold. Immeasurable in their scope to contain, they are yet powerless in their capacity to convey."


"A vision that fuels within one's soul a fervor, an ardour and a passion which manifests itself in service to the Cause of God."


The role of vision in mankind's history; impact of ideas and aspirations; place of the individual; of self-perception and empowerment; the creative power of the Word of God; "In the beginning there was the Word ..."


The indispensibility of tests and trials; "... the assayers of mankind ... purest motives ... stainless deeds ..."; tests of our fellow believers.


The Universal House of Justice is, now, the center of the Covenant and the guardian of our unity.


A final word:


The Faith of Baha'u'llah will have little impact on the course of life on this planet without the long-anticipated massive conversion to the Cause of God on the part of a large and significant segment of human society. Future historians will research the birth and development of the dramatic history of this large-scale acceptance of the authority of Baha'u'llah. Future scholars will analyse our vision of it. We, alone, can create it. Will we pass-up this opportunity?  



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