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COLLECTIONSBiographies, Published articles
TITLEThe Life of Shoghi Effendi
AUTHOR 1Helen Danesh
AUTHOR 2John Danesh
AUTHOR 3Amelia Danesh
VOLUMEed. M. Bergsmo
TITLE_PARENTStudying the Writings of Shoghi Effendi
PUB_THISGeorge Ronald
ABSTRACTChapter length biography, and overview of the Guardian's life's work.
TAGS* Shoghi Effendi, Writings of; Shoghi Effendi, Life of (documents); Shoghi Effendi, Translations by; Shoghi Effendi, Works of
All the complex problems of the great statesmen of the world are as child's play in comparison with the great problems of this youth, before whom are the problems of the entire world. He is a youth of twenty-six, left by the will of the Master as the Guardian of the Cause. No one can form any conception of his difficulties, which are overwhelming. ... He is indeed young in face, form and manner, yet his heart is the center of the world today. The character and spirit divine scintillate from him today. He alone can today save the world and make true civilization.
       - Mr. Mountfort Mills, 1922[1]
      In 1844, a twenty-five year old merchant opened the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Faith. The brief ministry of The Báb marked the beginning of "the most glorious" yet "the most turbulent" period of Bahá'í history.[2] He had founded a Faith fueled on "the creative interaction between crisis and victory".[3] Seventy-seven years later, another youth, a twenty-four year old student, was called upon to lead the Bahá'í world into its next stage - the Formative Age. Shoghi Effendi's ministry as the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith began in 1921, after a thirty year period of Bahá'í history which he said would be remembered as a time of "tragedies and triumphs ... so intertwined".[4] The story of his own life as the Guardian - like the story of the growth of the Faith which he guided for thirty-six years - continued as "a series of pulsations, of alternating crises and triumphs" leading the Faith "ever nearer to its divinely appointed destiny".[5]

       Born in `Akká in March 1897, Shoghi Effendi was related to The Báb through his father, Mírzá Hádí Shírází, and to Bahá'u'lláh through his mother, Díyá'íyyih Khánum, the eldest daughter of `Abdu'l-Bahá - thereby "flourishing from the Twin Holy Trees".[6] From the early years of his life, Shoghi Effendi was greatly influenced by his grandfather. `Abdu'l-Bahá provided much of Shoghi Effendi's initial spiritual training: Shoghi Effendi would pray at every dawn for one hour in his grandfather's room and learned numerous prayers which `Abdu'l-Bahá encouraged him to chant. It was also `Abdu'l-Bahá who insisted that the appellation given to the child should be "Shoghi Effendi", ("Effendi" signifies "Sir"), rather than simply "Shoghi", as a mark of respect towards him.

       From his early years, Shoghi Effendi was introduced to the world of suffering and danger which his grandfather had inherited as the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant. As a young boy, he was aware of Sultán `Abdu'l-Hamíd's desire to banish `Abdu'l-Bahá to the torrid deserts of North Africa where He was expected to perish. At the same time, the treachery of the Covenant-breakers in the Holy Land reached a point where the Master felt compelled to warn his young grandson against drinking coffee in the homes of any of the Bahá'ís in the fear that he would be poisoned. At the age of fifteen, however, Shoghi Effendi was forced to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow which the machinations of Covenant-breakers would continue to fill for the rest of his life. At this young age, he was denied the opportunity to travel to North America with his grandfather on what was to become a historic journey. One member of the party accompanying `Abdu'l-Bahá to the West, later to become a Covenant-breaker, conspired with Italian health officials in Naples, and falsely claimed that the boy's eyes were diseased. Shoghi Effendi was heartbroken.

       Shoghi Effendi found separation from his family very difficult during the years of his schooling. First attending a Jesuit school in Haifa, then boarding at another Catholic school in Beirut, Shoghi Effendi later attended the Syrian Protestant College (later known as the American University in Beirut) for his final years of high school and first years of university. He found little happiness in school or university life other than in leading the activities of the Bahá'í students studying in Beirut, and in his vacations in Haifa spent with `Abdu'l-Bahá. During his studies, he dedicated himself to mastering English - adding this language to the Arabic, French, Persian, and Turkish languages in which he was already fluent - so that he could translate the letters of `Abdu'l-Bahá and serve as His secretary.

       In 1918, Shoghi Effendi obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the American University in Beirut. From 1918 to 1920, during perhaps the happiest years of his life, Shoghi Effendi was the constant companion and secretary of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and accompanied his grandfather on official functions where he met, among others, the British Military Governor of Haifa and Sir Edmund Allenby, the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces in Palestine.

       In the spring of 1920, Shoghi Effendi went up to Balliol College, Oxford, to pursue his post-graduate studies. Among the subjects which he studied were political science, social and industrial questions, logic, and English economic history since 1688. He often presented papers, both to Bahá'í communities in England and to the various societies of Oxford University, relating economic and historical themes to the Bahá'í teachings. As well as debating, Shoghi Effendi had a fondness for sports, especially tennis and Alpine climbing, and his single personal hobby was photography. It was also during his two years at Oxford that Shoghi Effendi developed an affinity for some aspects of British culture. From daily reading of the The Times of London to careful study of the historical works of Carlyle and Gibbon, the future Guardian kept meticulously abreast of world events and developed a masterly command of the English language. His aims in continuing his studies at Oxford were quite clear, as he wrote in a letter to an English believer in November 1921: "... I have been of late immersed in my work, revising many translations ... of Queen Victoria's Tablet which is replete with most vital and significant world counsels, so urgently needed by this sad and disillusioned world!"[7]


Shoghi Effendi's own world was shattered on 29 November 1921 when he received news of `Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension. Shocked and grief-stricken, Shoghi Effendi made his way to the Holy Land. But even before his journey to Haifa and the realisation of his own weighty responsibilities, and despite his overwhelming sorrow, Shoghi Effendi wrote to a Bahá'í student in London expressing his vision of how even such a devastating blow as the passing of the Master would be converted into victory by the Bahá'ís:
The stir which is now aroused in the Bahá'í world is an impetus to this Cause and will awaken every faithful soul to shoulder the responsibilities which the Master has now placed upon every one of us.[8]

       On 3 January 1922, the three Wills of `Abdu'l-Bahá, written at different times but forming one document addressed to Shoghi Effendi, were officially read. Shoghi Effendi, who had no foreknowledge of the institution of the Guardianship, and who, by his own account, was still suffering from "the pain, nay the anguish of His bereavement",[9] found that he was designated "the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees", "the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees", "the expounder of the words of God", and "the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn".[10]

       On 7 January 1922 Bahíyyih Khánum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, cabled the Bahá'ís of Iran telling them that Shoghi Effendi was the centre of the Cause; the Bahá'í community of the United States was cabled nine days later on 16 January 1922.

       Through his first actions, Shoghi Effendi demonstrated the qualities of leadership which were to characterise his Guardianship. Emphasising "the remarkable revelations"[11] of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament in his early communications to the Bahá'ís of the world, Shoghi Effendi, neverthless, tried to draw attention away from his own personality by citing the least astounding of the passages of the Will referring to him as the appointed Guardian. From the outset, in a letter of December 1923, he set before the Bahá'í world their raison d'être:
Ours then is the duty and privilege to labour, by day, by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-man, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interests, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in the carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world.[12]

       In March 1922, in one of his earliest letters to the West, the Guardian also revealed pressing goals on his agenda by exhorting the Bahá'ís to teach, to expand their vision of their religion and to seize the opportunities of the hour by emulating the example of `Abdu'l-Bahá:
How great is the need at this moment when the promised outpourings of His grace are ready to be extended to every soul, for us all to form a broad vision of the mission of the Cause to mankind, and to do all in our power to spread it throughout the world. The eyes of the world, now that the sublime Personality of the Master has been removed from this visible plane, are turned with eager anticipation to us who are named after His name, and on whom rests primarily the responsibility to keep burning the torch that He has lit in this world.[13]

       And having observed the life of the Master, Shoghi Effendi felt that his own personal suffering was inevitable if the Cause was to advance: "I know it is a road of suffering; I have to tread this road till the end; everything has to be done with suffering".[14]

       The sufferings and problems of the Guardian began at once. On 30 January 1922, less than four weeks after the reading of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will, a group of Covenant-breakers forcibly took possession of the keys of the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh. Two weeks before, Shoghi Effendi received a cable from a staunch American Bahá'í who wrote that the "poison" of the Covenant-breakers "has penetrated deeply among the friends", and described the "great troubles and sorrows"[15] created by them in that community. The acts of the unfaithful were so abhorrent to Shoghi Effendi that he felt physically ill, as if "a thousand scorpions had bitten him".[16] Also during those first few weeks of his Guardianship, the Shí'ih Muslims of `Iráq had unlawfully seized a place ordained by Bahá'u'lláh as a centre of pilgrimage, the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád, thereby fulfilling Bahá'u'lláh's trenchant prediction that "it [the House] shall be so abased in the days to come as to cause tears to flow from every discerning eye".[17] Patronisingly referred to as "the Boy" by the local authorities in Haifa, Shoghi Effendi also found that some of the older Bahá'ís felt that the Universal House of Justice should be elected as soon as possible owing to his youth and inexperience.

       Distressed but undaunted, Shoghi Effendi, like a seasoned commander-in-chief, summoned his field marshals from the world over to gather in Haifa for consultation in March 1922. The group was represented by outstanding Bahá'ís from America, Burma, England, France, Germany, and Iran. The essence of the consultation, according to the diary of a visitor in Haifa at the time, was "that before the Universal House of Justice can be established the Local and National Houses must be functioning in those countries where there are Bahá'ís".[18] Shoghi Effendi had begun to lay the foundation for the rise of the Administrative Order.

       Following an eight month withdrawal to the mountains of Switzerland where Shoghi Effendi had gone to gain "health, strength, self-confidence and spiritual energy",[19] and during which time he led a spartan life, on some days walking for more than forty kilometres over Alpine passes and climbing mountains for sixteen hours without rest, the Guardian returned to Haifa on 15 December 1922 to relieve his great-aunt, Bahíyyih Khánum, of the leadership responsibilities which she had so faithfully executed during his absence. An immediate and ongoing problem which was to drain energy from him from the rest of his life was coping with the flood of world-wide correspondence. Shoghi Effendi decided that the maintenance of his correspondence with individual Bahá'ís around the world as well as with the assemblies was essential for the protection and growth of the Cause. The legacy of the Guardian's ceaseless guidance and inspiration is some 26,000 letters and thousands of cables to individual believers, groups and Bahá'í institutions - writings which will always remain indispensable for the deliberations of the Universal House of Justice.


The opening years of Shoghi Effendi's Guardianship established the pattern of crisis and victory which would come to characterize both the course of the rest of his life and the development of the Bahá'í Faith, two dramas which had become inextricably interwoven. In a span of six months from November 1925 to April 1926, the Guardian was confronted with three major crises. The first was the news from `Iráq that the Court of Appeals had given its verdict in favour of the Shí'ih Muslims to take possession of the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád. In response, Shoghi Effendi mobilized the Bahá'í world, and called on the believers of nineteen countries and regions, to cable and write, individually and collectively, their protest to the British High Commissioner in `Iráq and King Feisal. During this battle, Shoghi Effendi grieved the personal loss of "the warmest of friends, a trusted counsellor, an indefatigable collaborator, a lovable companion"[20] when Hand of the Cause of God, Dr. John Esslemont, died while serving as the Guardian's secretary in Haifa. The third blow to the Guardian came in April 1926, when Shoghi Effendi received the news of the vicious murders of the Bahá'ís of Jahrum, Iran, which the British Counsel of Shíráz described as "thirteen adult Bahá'ís [sic] and one babe of fifteen months being bludgeoned and stabbed and hacked to death in their houses and the streets".[21] The extent to which Shoghi Effendi was personally affected by this news is suggested by his cable messages, "horrified sudden calamity", and "deeply afflicted".[22] Nevertheless, he orchestrated a carefully calculated international publicity campaign, directing assemblies around the world to give "full publicity to these reports in their respective newspapers".[23] During every crisis, the Guardian always looked to find a path toward victory: "I feel that with patience, tact, courage and resource we can utilize this development to further the interests and extend the influence of the Cause".[24]
Many of the victories won during the first years of the Guardianship were in the arena of teaching. As early as 1923-24, in language now associated with the thrilling days of the World Crusade, Shoghi Effendi summoned the Bahá'ís to arise and proclaim Bahá'u'lláh's teachings:
... let us arise to teach His Cause with righteousness, conviction, understanding and vigor. Let this be the paramount and most urgent duty of every Bahá'í. Let us make it the dominating passion of our life. Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth.[25]

       Those who responded became immortalised, and achieved astonishing results. The incomparable Martha Root, designated by the Guardian as the foremost Hand of the Cause of God of the first Bahá'í century and the "first finest fruit"[26] of the Formative Age, travelled the world at least four times over, and presented the Bahá'í teachings to, among many others, Queen Marie of Romania, who became the first crowned head to embrace the Faith. On 4 May 1923, less than a month after the tragic massacre of Jahrum, the Toronto Daily Star published a highly appreciative statement made by the Queen on the Bahá'í Faith.

       These victories were followed by disappointments and tragedies. In April 1930, the intended pilgrimage of Queen Marie and her daughter, so eagerly anticipated by the Guardian, was prevented by what she called "mean and spiteful"[27] advisers. In July 1932, the Guardian bewailed "the sudden removal of my chief sustainer, my most affectionate comforter, the joy and inspiration of my life, ... the well-beloved and treasured Remnant of Bahá'u'lláh",[28] when the Greatest Holy Leaf passed away. It was Bahíyyih Khánum who had been his protector, adviser, and comforter since the passing of the Master. With her no longer beside him, he emptied his heart:
Bear thou this my message to `Abdu'l-Bahá, thine exalted and divinely-appointed Brother: If the Cause for which Bahá'u'lláh toiled and labored, for which Thou didst suffer years of agonizing sorrow, for the sake of which streams of sacred blood have flowed, should in days to come, encounter storms more severe than those it has already weathered, do Thou continue to overshadow, with Thine all-encompassing care and wisdom, Thy frail, Thy unworthy appointed child.[29]

       Five years later, in a simple ceremony held in Bahíyyih Khánum's room, the Guardian married Mary Maxwell, whom he gave the title Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, and presented her with the ring which his departed great-aunt had given him. Even in marriage, Shoghi Effendi's life was linked to the development of the Faith, as he cabled the rejoicing Bahá'ís of North America in late March 1937:
Institution Guardianship, head cornerstone Administrative Order Cause Bahá'u'lláh, already ennobled through its organic connection with Persons of Twin Founders of Bahá'í Faith, is now further reinforced through direct association with West and particularly with American believers, whose spiritual destiny is to usher in World Order Bahá'u'lláh. For my part desire congratulate community American believers on acquisition tie vitally binding them to so weighty an organ of their Faith.[30]

       In 1952, Rúhíyyih Rabbani was elevated to the rank of Hand of Cause of God, and in a message to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, her homeland, the Guardian provided a glimpse of the remarkable bond between her and the sign of God on earth, when he designated her as "my helpmate, my shield in warding off the darts of Covenant-breakers and my tireless collaborator in the arduous tasks I shoulder".[31]


The development of the World Centre of the Bahá'í Faith will always be identified with the work of the Guardian. From the beginning of his ministry, Shoghi Effendi personally welcomed a steady flow of pilgrims; he inspired them, shared with them news of the progress of the Cause, and sometimes offered them his advice, as when he remarked to a young pilgrim who had asked him about marriage: "Don't wait too long and don't wait for someone to fall from the sky!"[32] As early as 9 April 1922, Shoghi Effendi ordered work to be commenced on the new Western Pilgrim House; less than two weeks later, on the first day of Ridván, the Shrines of both The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh were electrically illuminated for the first time. Within a few years, Shoghi Effendi had, to the astonishment of many of the locals, planted lawns on the properties of these Shrines; these were the first lawns to be grown in Palestine on a large scale. With no help and no advice, he laid out his superb gardens in Bahjí and Haifa, every measurement being his own. A great aficionado of art and architecture, especially of the Greek and Gothic varieties, the Guardian fixed the style of the Shrine of The Báb through his instructions to the architect, his father-in-law and confidant, and Hand of the Cause of God, William Sutherland Maxwell. Shoghi Effendi also set the design for the International Archives building, and personally created the appearances of the interiors of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, the House of `Abbúd, and the Mansion at Mazra`ih.

       In the midst of obstacles, anxiety, material and financial problems, and the terrorism and civil war which accompanied the creation of the state of Israel, Shoghi Effendi was developing "the heart and nerve-center of a world-embracing Faith"[33] and bringing closer to fulfillment the promises of Bahá'u'lláh in the Tablet of Carmel. During his ministry, the Guardian increased by fiftyfold - to almost 500,000 square meters of land - the area of property under Bahá'í ownership in the Holy Land. In December 1939, Shoghi Effendi reunited the sister, brother, mother, and wife of `Abdu'l-Bahá by transferring their remains to "one spot" which, in a cable to America, he said was to: "constitute focal centre Bahá'í Administrative Institutions at Faith's World Centre".[34] From the first day of his ministry, the Guardian's greatest concern in the Holy Land was to secure and safeguard the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh and the buildings and lands adjoining it. In 1957, his goal was finally fully achieved, when the Supreme Court of Israel ordered the eviction of the Covenant-breakers who had occupied the buildings adjacent to the Shrine. Shoghi Effendi's second great concern was the Shrine of The Báb. By 1953, in a space of less than six years, the Guardian had transformed, what he called in 1947, "a homely building with a fortress-like appearance"[35] into the "Queen of Carmel".[36] In 1957, "the first stately Edifice"[37] of the Ark, the International Archives Building, was completed. Three years before, Shoghi Effendi predicted that the erection of this building was a step "destined to usher in the establishment of the World Administrative Centre of the Faith on Mt. Carmel - the Ark referred to by Bahá'u'lláh in the closing passages of His Tablet of Carmel".[38] The Bahá'ís of this generation witnessed the realisation of part of this remarkable vision when the Universal House of Justice occupied its permanent seat on Mount Carmel in 1983.


The translations and writings of Shoghi Effendi, although they will receive more detailed attention in other parts of this book, cannot be separated from the rest of the work or life of the Guardian. Indeed, one of the first acts of his ministry was to begin circulating translations of the prayers and Tablets of the Master. From 1922 to 1944, Shoghi Effendi translated numerous passages from the "epistles, exhortations, commentaries, apologies, dissertations, prophecies, prayers, odes" and "specific Tablets"[39] of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as many passages from the Writings of The Báb and `Abdu'l-Bahá. In March 1923, he sent the Bahá'ís of America his revised translation of The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh; in April, he shared with them various passages of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book). By the end of the first decade of the Guardianship, he had also completed the translations of two major books: Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Iqán (The Book of Certitude) and Nabíl's Narrative. In 1935, Shoghi Effendi translated what he called "a selection of the most characteristic and hitherto unpublished passages from the outstanding works of the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation",[40] published under the title Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. The translation and publication of its complementary volume, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh, followed in 1936-7. The fifth and final book which Shoghi Effendi rendered into English was also the last major work of Bahá'u'lláh, the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, translated during the winter of 1939-40.

       From 1929 to 1941, Shoghi Effendi wrote a number of long letters addressed to the Bahá'ís of the West. Seven of these letters, conceived during the years of 1929-1936, have been compiled under the title The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Written on the eve of the Second World War, The Advent of Divine Justice was a letter specifically addressed to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada. The Promised Day Is Come appeared in 1941. It was a letter of over one hundred pages which explained that "the retributory calamity" that had overtaken mankind was primarily due to its having ignored for a hundred years the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. Then, in 1944, after two years of preparation and writing, during which time the Guardian read at least two hundred volumes of works written on the Faith in both English and Persian, by both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís, Shoghi Effendi's monumental Centennial Review of Bábí and Bahá'í history, God Passes By, was presented as a gift to the Bahá'ís of the western world. Written during the turbulent days of World War II when, for instance, a fighter plane crashed less than 100 metres away from the Guardian's room, this book was perhaps Shoghi Effendi's greatest labour of love. Like most of his writings, it was written in the Persian style of composition, with the Guardian speaking aloud and committing his words to paper at the same time. Like many of his other English writings, the manuscript of God Passes By was sent to Hand of the Cause of God George Townshend, who was not only greatly admired by the Guardian for his knowledge and command of the English language, but who also provided the title for this work. In addition, the Guardian acted as Editor-in-Chief of the first twelve volumes of The Bahá'í World, and wrote extensively in Persian, including a short one hundred year history of the Bahá'í Faith. While the praise of no one can do justice to the majesty, power, and precision of Shoghi Effendi's expression, the comments of Sir E. Denison Ross, the well-known Orientalist from the University of London, who called the Guardian's command of English "perfect" and even asserted that his "English style ... could not be bettered",[41] suggest the magnitude of Shoghi Effendi's literary achievement.


Another dimension of Shoghi Effendi's life as the Guardian was his careful cultivation of the external relations of the Bahá'í Community, both in the Holy Land and elsewhere. These efforts eventually resulted in the recognition of the World Centre as the historic heart of the Bahá'í Faith, and entitled the Bahá'í Community to the same rights as other Faiths in the Holy Land, and in some cases, special rights. In December 1922, only four days after returning to Haifa from Switzerland, Shoghi Effendi, in an act indicative of the wisdom and courtesy with which he discharged all his duties, wired the High Commissioner for Palestine in Jerusalem, extending him "best wishes and kind regards"[42] and reaffirming his own position as the world leader of the Bahá'í Faith. Two months later the Governors of `Akká and Haifa ruled in favour of returning the keys of the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh to the legitimate Bahá'í keeper of the Shrine. Shoghi Effendi fostered these types of contacts throughout his Guardianship, holding interviews, for example, with the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion in January 1949 and the President of Israel Ben Zvi in April 1954. The Guardian was also a frequent and generous contributor to charities in Haifa for the poor and distressed, donating over $10,000 to the municipality of Haifa for the poor of all denominations from 1940 to 1952.

       Internationally, Shoghi Effendi maintained contact with a number of people and organizations of prominence, despite his overwhelming workload. In addition to Queen Marie, the Guardian corresponded with, among others, Grand Duke Alexander of Russia, Princess Kadria of Egypt, Princess Marina of Greece, Lord Lamington, and Professor Norman Bentwich. He sent personal messages to the Universal Congress of Esperantists from 1927 to 1931, and accorded the highest priority to the attainment by the Bahá'í Community of non-governmental status at the United Nations in 1947. In fact, one of the twenty-seven objectives of the World Crusade which the Guardian listed in 1953 was the reinforcement of the ties binding the Bahá'í World Community to the United Nations. These ties may well have been responsible in part for the pressure which the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, exerted on the government of Iran to halt the wave of violent persecutions of Bahá'ís in 1955.


As well as the beautiful World Centre, the matchless translations, the vast writings, and the great prestige and recognition which the Guardian left the Bahá'í world, Shoghi Effendi bequeathed to all of humankind a model of community and world organisation which will shape human affairs for at least the next 1,000 years: the Bahá'í Administrative Order. According to Shoghi Effendi, "the Charter which called into being, outlined the features and set in motion the processes" of the Administrative Order was "none other than the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá".[43] While `Abdu'l-Bahá was designated by Shoghi Effendi as "the great Architect" of this Order - an Order "unique in the annals of the world's religious systems"[44] - it was the Guardian who not only supervised and planned its construction, but who also used the Administrative Order as a channel to carry out the Divine Plan of `Abdu'l-Bahá. It was Shoghi Effendi who, for instance, detailed the responsibilities, powers and processes for annual election of local and national Assemblies, called for the setting-up of local and national Bahá'í Funds, and established the institution of the Auxiliary Board. He established the International Bahá'í Council in 1951, the forerunner of the Universal House of Justice, and appointed three contingents of Hands of the Cause of God, "the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth".[45] Indeed, throughout his writings, Shoghi Effendi repeatedly stated that the ultimate destiny of the Administrative Order was "to evolve into the Bahá'í World Commonwealth", the last of successive stages through which the Faith must pass in the course of its evolution towards the Golden Age[46]; in the meantime, teaching, according to the Guardian, was "the fundamental purpose" of Bahá'í administration.

       Once the bedrock of the Administrative Order was established - a necessary precondition for the "efficient and systematic prosecution" of the Divine Plan - Shoghi Effendi was able to launch the great teaching campaigns envisioned in `Abdu'l-Bahá's charter for the world-wide expansion of the Faith, The Tablets of the Divine Plan. The Bahá'í community of America, which Shoghi Effendi called, "the cradle of the Administrative Order",[47] was the chief trustee of this Plan. By 1925, forty-three local Assemblies had been formed in North America, and several national Assemblies had been formed or were in the process of formation, including, Britain, formed in 1923, Germany and Austria (1923), India and Burma (1923), Egypt (1924), the United States and Canada (1925), `Iráq (1931), Australia and New Zealand (1934), and Iran (1934). Through the American Bahá'í community, Shoghi Effendi established the "charter"[48] for all national Assemblies by means of the 1927 Bahá'í National Constitution, and the "pattern"[49] for all local Assemblies by means of the By-Laws of the Spiritual Assembly of New York, drafted in 1931. By 1936, ten national Assemblies and 139 local Assemblies existed throughout the world. The Guardian considered the bedrock finally laid. The time for launching the Divine Plan, "the weightiest spiritual enterprise launched in recorded history",[50] had come.


The last twenty years of Shoghi Effendi's life were characterised by systematic teaching plans which he first assigned to America, and later assigned to other communities as well. The first (1937-1944) and second (1946-1953) American Seven Year Plans established the Faith in all of the states and provinces of the United States and Canada, created new national Assemblies in Canada and in Central and South America, and established the Faith in each of twenty Latin American republics. At the same time, the Bahá'ís of other countries, most notably Britain, Canada, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Burma, and Iran, inspired by the Guardian's call to vie with one another in spreading the teachings, began their own teaching plans. By the centenary of the mystic birth of Bahá'u'lláh's mission in the Síyáh-Chál of Tehran - the Holy Year of 1953 - and after the four great Intercontinental Teaching Conferences held in Kampala, Chicago, Stockholm, and New Delhi, the stage was set for what Shoghi Effendi called a "fate-laden, soul-stirring, decade-long, world-embracing Spiritual Crusade".51

       The Ten Year Crusade crowned Shoghi Effendi's ministry and his life's work. Whereas in 1921, when Shoghi Effendi became the Guardian, thirty-five countries were opened to the Faith, on his passing in November 1957, Bahá'ís resided in 254 countries; indeed, during the first two years of the Global Crusade alone, the number of countries enrolled under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh almost doubled. By 1957, Bahá'í literature was translated into 237 languages - a sixfold increase in thirteen years. By the end of this Crusade, there were fifty-six national Assemblies, 4,566 local Assemblies, and Bahá'ís resided in 15,186 localties.

       In the midst of these achievements, Shoghi Effendi continued to transform crisis into victory. After the Iranian authorities had seized the Bahá'í National Headquarters in Tehran in 1955 and twice desecrated the Holy House of The Báb, and therefore made it impossible to build the planned House of Worship in Iran, the Guardian called for the construction in Kampala, Uganda, of the "Mother Temple" of Africa as a "supreme consolation" to the "oppressed masses" of our "valiant brethren" in Iran, the Cradle of the Faith.[52] Like a general, seizing the opportunity of the moment in battle, Shoghi Effendi then announced in Ridván 1957 an "ambitious three-fold enterprise" to erect in "localities as far apart as Frankfurt, Sydney and Kampala" the "Mother Temples" of the European, Australian and African continents.[53] By the time Shoghi Effendi was drafting the momentous message of October 1957 in which he outlined plans for the midway point of the World Crusade, the crises created by those who opposed the Faith throughout his thirty-six year ministry seemed to have been finally converted into resounding victory.

       Only hours after completing a map of the world displaying the victories to date of the World Crusade, the Guardian passed away in London on 4 November 1957. Rúhíyyih Rabbani sent the following cable to Haifa which was relayed to all National Assemblies:
Shoghi Effendi beloved of all hearts sacred trust given believers by Master passed away sudden heart attack in sleep following Asiatic flu. Urge believers remain steadfast cling institution Hands lovingly reared recently reinforced emphasized by beloved Guardian. Only oneness heart oneness purpose can befittingly testify loyalty all National Assemblies believers departed Guardian who sacrificed self utterly for service Faith.[54]

       By leading the Bahá'í world to the middle of the Ten Year Global Crusade, Shoghi Effendi had guided this Army of Light further into the divinely propelled process which is destined to culminate in "the stage at which the light of God's triumphant Faith shining in all its power and glory will have suffused and enveloped the entire planet".[55] Such is the debt of the Bahá'ís of all time to their one, beloved Guardian - Shoghi Effendi.

          [1] Mr. Mountford Mills spoke these words of Shoghi Effendi at the Fourteenth Annual Bahá'í Convention, 22 April, in Chicago, as reported by Louis G. Gregory in Star of the West, Vol. 13, No. 4, p. 68.
          [2] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 1970, p. 3.
          [3] Message of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 27 October 1987.
          [4] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. xv.
          [5] Shoghi Effendi, cited by the Universal House of Justice in a letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 27 October 1987.
          [6] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, 1971, p. 3.
          [7] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 22 November 1921 to one of the Bahá'ís of England, cited by R. Rabbani, The Priceless Pearl, p. 37.
          [8] Undated letter of Shoghi Effendi to a Bahá'í student in London, cited in ibid., p. 41.
          [9] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated February 1922 to a Bahá'í, cited in ibid., p. 43.
          [10] `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 3 and 11.
          [11] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 2 December 1923 to "the beloved brethren and sisters in Australia and New Zealand", in Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957, 1970, p. 1.
          [12] Ibid., pp. 1-2.
          [13] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 5 March 1922 to the "dear Fellow-workers in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh", in Unfolding Destiny, 1981, p. 3.
          [14] Shoghi Effendi, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 45.
          [15] Letter dated 18 January 1922 to Shoghi Effendi from an unnamed American Bahá'í, cited in ibid., p. 50.
          [16] Ugo Giachery, Shoghi Effendi, 1973, p. 17.
          [17] Bahá'u'llah, cited in God Passes By, p. 357.
          [18] Diary of an American Bahá'í visiting Haifa in March 1922, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 56.
          [19] Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Persia, cited in ibid., p. 57.
          [20] Shoghi Effendi, cited in ibid., p. 91.
          [21] British Counsel Herbert Chick, cited in M. Momen (ed.), The Bábí and Bahá'í Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts, 1981, p. 465.
          [22] Cables of Shoghi Effendi dated 11 April and 7 May 1926 to Bahá'ís of Iran, cited in The Priceless Pearl, pp. 98-99.
          [23] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 24 April 1926, cited in ibid., p. 98.
          [24] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 21 May 1926, cited in ibid., p. 99.
          [25] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 24 November to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration, 1974, p. 69.
          [26] Cable of Shoghi Effendi dated September 1939 to Bahá'í world, in The Priceless Pearl, p. 106.
          [27] Letter of Queen Marie to Martha Root dated 28 June 1931, cited in ibid., pp. 115-116.
          [28] Letter of Shoghi Effendi dated 17 July 1932 to the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration, p. 187.
          [29] Ibid., pp. 195-196.
          [30] Cable of Shoghi Effendi dated March 1937 to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 152.
          [31] Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, in Messages to Canada, 1965, p. 22.
          [32] Shoghi Effendi, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 129.
          [33] Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, New Delhi, pp. 3-4.
          [34] Cable of Shoghi Effendi dated 5 December 1939 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 261.
          [35] Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Haifa Local Building Town Planning Commission, 7 December 1947, cited in ibid., p. 240.
          [36] Cable of Shoghi Effendi dated October 1953, in Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957, 1971, p. 169.
          [37] Cable of Shoghi Effendi dated April 1954, in ibid., p. 64.
          [38] Ibid., p. 66.
          [39] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 137.
          [40] Letter of Shoghi Effendi to Sir Herbert Samuel, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 218.
          [41] Letter of Sir E. Denison Ross to Shoghi Effendi dated 27 April 1932, cited in ibid., p. 216.
          [42] Cable of Shoghi Effendi to High Commissioner for Palestine in Jerusalem dated 19 December 1922, cited in ibid., p. 70.
          [43] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 325.
          [44] Ibid., p. 326.
          [45] Cable of Shoghi Effendi dated October 1957 to the Bahá'í World, in Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 127.
          [46] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 325 and 364.
          [47] Ibid., p. 329.
          [48] Shoghi Effendi, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 302.
          [49] Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated 27 May 1927 to the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration, p. 135.
          [50] Shoghi Effendi, cited in The Priceless Pearl, p. 383.
          [52] Cablegram of Shoghi Effendi dated 23 August 1955 to the Bahá'í world, in Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 90.
          [53] Message of Shoghi Effendi dated April 1957 to the Bahá'í world, ibid., pp. 111-112.
          [54] Cable of R. Rabbani dated 4 November 1957, in The Priceless Pearl, p. 447.
          [55] Second Message of Shoghi Effendi to the All-America Intercontinental Conference dated 4 May 1953, in Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 155.
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