Segment 21: The Infallibility of the Twin Successors: The Guardian and the Universal House of Justice: The two parts of Abdu’l-Baha’s Covenant – God’s part and our part -by Brent Poirier

The Infallibility of the Twin Successors: The Guardian and the Universal House of Justice.pdf

Let’s revisit this extract from a letter from Shoghi Effendi’s secretary written on his behalf – and please recall that such letters were not only written at the direction of Shoghi Effendi; the vast majority of them also bear Shoghi Effendi’s signature:

“As regards the meaning of the Bahá’í Covenant: The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause . . . . The second form of Covenant is such as the one Bahá’u’lláh made with His people that they should accept the Master. This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation. Under the same category falls the Covenant the Master made with the Bahá’ís that they should accept His administration after Him.” (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian dated October 21, 1932; Directives from the Guardian, p. 15, #43)

Please pay special attention to that last sentence:  

“the Covenant the Master made with the Bahá’ís that they should accept His administration after Him.”

This is an extremely important point. It is common to hear Bahá’ís say that the Master was the Successor to Bahá’u’lláh, as was written by Baha’u’llah’s own pen in His Will; and that Shoghi Effendi was the successor to the Master, as was written by the Master’s own pen in His Will; and then the statements from the friends sometimes get sort of fuzzy. Generally there is no mention that the House of Justice is also named as the Master’s successor in His own handwriting in His Will – but that is the case. The House of Justice is not the Head of the Faith because there’s no one else to do it; it is the Head of the Faith because the Master, in the same passage where He names the Guardian as His successor, names the House of Justice as His successor. The House of Justice is not only the supreme Body and infallible; it is in the line of successorship. The House of Justice is one of the twin Successors of the Manifestation and `Abdu’l-Bahá.  This is perhaps the most important point in these materials.

The Universal House of Justice is, in conjunction with the Guardianship, the Successor to `Abdu’l-Bahá

In this statement, Shoghi Effendi states who the Successors of the Master and Bahá’u’lláh are:

“They [Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá] have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 19.)

So in these quotations above, we have one statement from Shoghi Effendi stating that the twin institutions of the House of Justice and the Guardianship are the Successors; and in another statement on his behalf, he states this another way—that the successor to the Master is “His administration”.

Emeric Sala, a devoted believer, went on pilgrimage during 1937 and left this account of a conversation with the beloved Guardian:

One night Shoghi Effendi asked me a question, which I could not answer, nor did I understand its significance at that time. Shoghi Effendi asked me:

“Since after the martyrdom of the Báb the authority of the Faith was passed on to Bahá’u’lláh, and after his passing to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to whom was it transferred after the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá?”

I answered, of course, to Shoghi Effendi. He said no. I then said the Guardian. He again shook his head. I then ventured the Universal House of Justice. He again said no, and I could see from his expression that he was disappointed with my inability to answer his question. Then he asked, are the friends not reading my letters? The answer, he said, is clearly stated in The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh. It is divided into four parts: Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the fourth part entitled the “World Order of Bahá’u’lláh,” which is the answer to his question.
Shoghi Effendi’s Question (Actually, the fourth section is entitled the “Administrative Order.”)

As the House of Justice wrote in its Constitution, the Covenant of Baha’u’llah

“…continues to fulfil its life-giving purpose through the agency of the Universal House of Justice whose fundamental object, as one of the twin successors of Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá, is to ensure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of the Faith…” (The Constitution of The Universal House of Justice, p. 3)

The Heart of the Covenant of `Abdu’l-Bahá

As we read previously, the Master’s Will and Testament is, according to Shoghi Effendi’s guidance, the Master’s Covenant.  Letter of 3 July 1949 (First Pioneer School)

A Covenant has two parties, each of whom makes a solemn promise to the other. God promises something to us – and we promise something to God. We became parties to the twin Covenants of Baha’u’llah and the Master when we became Baha’is.

  • God’s part of the Covenant:  Baha’u’llah and the Master promise to guide the Universal House of Justice.
  • Our part of the Covenant: We promise to turn to it, and to seek its guidance.

The heart of the Master’s Covenant is contained in these words:

The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abhá Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both).  Whatsoever they decide is of God.  Whoso obeyeth him not, neither  obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God.  May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him!”  (The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha, p. 11)

The Master here covenants, or promises, that both the Guardian of the Cause and the Universal House of Justice are guided by Bahá’u’lláh (“The Abhá Beauty”) and the Báb (“His Holiness, the Exalted One”). In one of his World Order letters, Shoghi Effendi states that the Bab and Baha’u’llah are both “presiding … over the destinies of this supreme Dispensation” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 97), echoing the Master’s solemn Covenant that both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh guide the Universal House of Justice and the Guardian. This is God’s part of the Master’s Covenant; it is a re-phrasing of what He writes on page 11 of His Will.

Man’s part of the Covenant—to turn to these twin institutions and seek their guidance—is stated in the rest of that paragraph on page 11 of the Will, and again in the closing words of the Master’s Will:

Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God.
(The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha, p. 11)

All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice.  And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.  (The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 25-26)

Imagine the significance of this passage. These are the very last words of Abdu’l-Baha to the human race – turn to the Guardian and to the Universal House of Justice. These words are worthy of memorizing, and of teaching to our children.

The Close Functioning of the Twin Institutions

In His Will (p. 14), the Master provided that the Universal House of Justice was to be elected by the National Spiritual Assemblies (referred to in the Will as the “Secondary Houses of Justice”), and that the Guardian of the Cause would serve as its permanent Chairman:

“. . . the Guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body.”  

As a side-note, the title given to Shoghi Effendi by the Master, is Ghusn-i-Mumtaz or the Chosen Branch.  Mumtaz is an Arabic word that is used, for example, to designate the best student in a class.  It appears again in the Master’s Will, p. 14, translated as “distinguished” – the Guardian is the “distinguished” member of the House of Justice.

As the House of Justice has written, the Master “obviously envisaged their functioning together,” i.e. the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice.  (Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986, p. 87)

Shoghi Effendi also referred to this relationship between these twin institutions in a letter he wrote to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine:

The passing of `Abdu’l-Bahá marked the termination of the first and Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Faith and signalized the opening of the Formative Age destined to witness the gradual emergence of its Administrative Order, whose establishment had been foretold by the Báb, whose laws were revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, whose outlines were delineated by `Abdu’l-Bahá in His Will and Testament, and whose foundations are now being laid by the national and local councils which are elected by the professed adherents of the Faith, and which are paving the way for the constitution of the World Council, to be designated as the Universal House of Justice, which in conjunction with me, as its appointed Head and authorized interpreter of the Bahá’í teachings, must coordinate and direct the affairs of the Bahá’í community, and whose seat will be permanently established in the Holy Land, in close proximity to its world spiritual center, the resting-places of its Founders.   Summary Statement – 1947, Special UN Committee on Palestine   
(Under the sub-heading “The Administrative Order”)

As we will see in the next two Units of this course, these two divine institutions have each had to function separately from the other. Each was independently promised infallible divine guidance – in the case of the Universal House of Justice, this promise was made by Baha’u’llah, as well as by the Master.

Segment 20: The Covenant of Abdu’l-Baha: His Will and Testament – by Brent Poirier

The Covenant of Abdu’l-Baha: His Will and Testament.pdf

The Covenant of `Abdu’l-Bahá

We can get a glimpse of the importance of the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha by seeing the remarkable language of Shoghi Effendi in describing it. Shoghi Effendi refers to the Most Holy Book as “the brightest emanation of the mind of Bahá’u’lláh” and as “the Charter of His New World Order.” (God Passes By, p. 213) He uses the identical language to refer to the Master’s Will – the “brightest emanation” of the Master’s mind (God Passes By, p. 325) and “the Charter of Baha’u’llah’s New World Order” (God Passes By, p. xv, and “The World Order of Baha’u’llah” p. 144)

The Master’s Will was in an envelope addressed in Abdu’l-Baha’s own handwriting to the “Ghusn-i-Mumtaz,” the “Chosen Branch,” Shoghi Effendi (“The Priceless Pearl,” p. 41. As the Guardian’s secretary wrote on his behalf:

“The ‘Kitáb-i-‘Ahd’ is, as you know, Bahá’u’lláh’s ‘Book of Covenant’… The manuscript was in the possession of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá all through His ministry, and after His passing it was found enclosed in His own will. These two precious documents, namely the book of Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have both been carefully preserved and are now in the possession of the Guardian.” (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated 25 September 1934, “The Light of Divine Guidance” Vol. I, p. 62)

This physical oneness of these two documents – Baha’u’llah’s Will and Testament enclosed within the Master’s Will, and both of them inside the envelope addressed to the beloved Guardian – symbolizes the oneness of their contents. As Shoghi Effendi wrote, “they are one Will”. (“The World Order of Baha’u’llah,” p. 22)

He also wrote of the close connection of the twin Covenants, in a letter written by his secretary on his behalf:

“The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause.  First is the covenant that every Prophet makes with humanity or, more definitely, with His people that they will accept and follow the coming Manifestation who will be the reappearance of His reality.  The second form of Covenant is such as the one Bahá’u’lláh made with His people that they should accept the Master.  This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation.  Under the same category falls the Covenant the Master made with the Bahá’ís that they should accept His administration after Him….” (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer dated October 21, 1932; Bahá’í News #80, January, 1934, pp. 5-6)

We have a touching description of the passing of `Abdu’l-Bahá and of the reading of His Will, from Mr. Saichiro Fujita who was residing in the Holy Land at that time. His exact words and phrasing are retained, from a voice recording made of him by Sylvia Ioas.

“You know, before `Abdu’l-Baha passing away, it was on a Friday, we went visit the mosque in Haifa, Friday morning. That day return from mosque, He had to walk up the step. He says “I am tired,” went into the room. Then Friday, Saturday, Sunday! Three days. Sunday night, He passed away. Those days we had many American pilgrims there. That Mr. and Mrs. Hoagg, Boschs were there. I heard the cry, deafening noise. So immediately I went up this gate, there’s many collected and mourning, the Eastern believers very demonstrative, you know. I said “What is it?”  “It’s `Abdu’l-Baha has passed.”  So immediately I come back to Pilgrim House, informed them. And some of them come out, come now. That day. It’s one o’clock, and all the family are all together there. Can’t help. Doctor just left, Dr. Habib, that Christian Arab, that’s their family doctor. Then from that room we had after few days, the day in Mount Carmel. I went there myself, making a place. ( ) called, ah, Ramatullah, he’s very strong man, he carried casket way down. Ramatullah lived a long time ago, he was caretaker, gardener, very nice man. He had a big family, but years ago. All the notables from Haifa and Jerusalem, all were collected here, ah, for funeral. Even Herbert Samuel, walked right up, passing Master. Just out from this room, Number seven, and go around, Rahmatu’llah turn corner, in front of center of church, then go up, up, up, up, up to the Shrine. Everybody carrying casket up to the resting-place. Then up memorial day, we had biggest service here in Number 7. Then we had biggest dinner, luncheon served in, ah, Number 9. That one of the daughter’s family, Ruha Khanum. Will of, ah, `Abdu’l-Bahá read in Number 7. In the center of the hall! That room! Oh, we had the biggest, ah, meeting there. All sitting on floor. A prominent Baha’i, from Egypt, he read the Will, right in the corner, and everybody faced, and everybody sat around, even the Nakazeen, some of the Nakazeen was among us, violator. Very touching ceremony. Oh, from early in morning, we had a meeting, ah, to go some time, to circulate all the Will of `Abdu’l-Baha. Every time mention, ah, Shoghi Effendi’s name, everybody arise. Very respectable, very. That’s why the Shoghi Effendi is be Guardian of the Cause. That day. ( ) family, back in that tea room now. See, the gentlemen and the ladies are all segregated. They know, behind the curtain, they all know. The Will of `Abdu’l-Baha was read, everybody consented, Shoghi Effendi is the Guardian of the Cause. That’s final, nobody object, and then after the passing `Abdu’l-Baha, the reign of Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.”  (From an interview of Sachiro Fujita by Sylvia Ioas, in the House of `Abdu’l-Bahá, Number 7 Haparsim (“Persian”) Street, Mount Carmel, Haifa, November 24th, 1965) Interview of Sachiro Fujita – by Sylvia Ioas, 1975

The Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha was described by Shoghi Effendi as:

“amazing in all its aspects”:   “ . . . the remarkable revelations of the Beloved’s Will and Testament, so amazing in all its aspects, so emphatic in its injunctions, have challenged and perplexed the keenest minds. . .” (Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 50)

It is highly advisable to study the entire text of the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá, one of the most important of all of the Bahá’í Writings.

Here is Shoghi Effendi’s summary of the Master’s Will:

“The Document establishing that Order, the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; signed and sealed by `Abdu’l-Bahá; entirely written with His own hand; its first section composed during one of the darkest periods of His incarceration in the prison-fortress of Akká, proclaims, categorically and unequivocally, the fundamental beliefs of the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh; reveals, in unmistakable language, the two-fold character of the Mission of the Báb; discloses the full station of the Author of the Bahá’í  Revelation; asserts that “all others are servants unto Him and do His bidding”; stresses the importance of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; establishes the institution of the Guardianship as a hereditary office and outlines its essential functions; provides the measures for the election of the International House of Justice, defines its scope and sets forth its relationship to that Institution; prescribes the obligations, and emphasizes the responsibilities, of the Hands of the Cause of God; and extols the virtues of the indestructible Covenant established by Bahá’u’lláh. That Document, furthermore, lauds the courage and constancy of the supporters of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant; expatiates on the sufferings endured by its appointed Center; recalls the infamous conduct of Mírzá Yahya and his failure to heed the warnings of the Báb; exposes, in a series of indictments, the perfidy and rebellion of Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí, and the complicity of his son Shu`a’u’llah and of his brother Mirza Badí’u’llah; reaffirms their excommunication, and predicts the frustration of all their hopes; summons the Afnán (the Bab’s kindred), the Hands of the Cause and the entire company of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh to arise unitedly to propagate His Faith, to disperse far and wide, to labor tirelessly and to follow the heroic example of the apostles of Jesus Christ; warns them against the dangers of association with the Covenant-breakers, and bids them shield the Cause from the assaults of the insincere and the hypocrite; and counsels them to demonstrate by their conduct the universality of the Faith they have espoused, and vindicate its high principles.  In that same Document its Author reveals the significance and purpose of the Huququ’llah (Right of God), already instituted in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas; enjoins submission and fidelity towards all monarchs who are just; expresses His longing for martyrdom, and voices His prayers for the repentance as well as the forgiveness of His enemies.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 328)

Bahíyyih Khánum on the Clarity of the Covenant

Some teachings are enclosed in symbols and beautiful imagery, and are endowed with a variety of meanings and applications. On the other hand, for the sake of the unity of the Cause, the language of the Covenant is clear and explicit. The Greatest Holy Leaf wrote:

       It appears from your letter that you had written prior to the receipt of the Will and Testament of the Centre of the Covenant.  You have certainly perused it by now.  This Text is His decisive decree; it constitutes the very life of those endued with understanding.  In it the Pen of Bounty has set forth in the most powerful, comprehensive, clear and detailed manner the obligations devolving on every stratum of the Baha’i community, and has hacked out the tree of violation by its root, and has caused the centre of it to be forlorn and disgraced.  He has specifically named the centre to whom all must turn, thus solidly fixing and establishing the foundations of the Covenant, and has clearly appointed the centre, to whom all the people of Baha must direct themselves, the Chosen Branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God.  This great bestowal is one of the special characteristics of this supreme Revelation, which of all Dispensations is the noblest and most excellent. Goodly be this to the steadfast, glad-tidings to the staunch, blessings to those who win the day.

       Praise be to God, you have arisen to serve Him, and are actively teaching and spreading His Faith.  Such a bounty merits thanks a thousand times over, and praises forever, in the hallowed sanctuary of the one Beloved.”

       Convey my Baha’i salutations to all the faithful.

(From a letter of the Greatest Holy Leaf, Bahíyyih Khánum, p. 122)

Segment 19: The Twin Covenants – by Brent Poirier

The Twin Covenants.pdf

Abdu’l-Baha is the Successor to Baha’u’llah and the Center of His Covenant.  Shoghi Effendi is the successor to Abdu’l-Baha.  Whose successor is the Universal House of Justice?

THE TWIN COVENANTS

What does Shoghi Effendi mean when he refers to the “twin Covenants” in the Baha’i Faith?  These are the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, and the Covenant of `Abdu’l-Baha.  They are part of the same Covenant, part of the Lesser Covenant Baha’u’llah has made with His believers.  He has covenanted with us that “this is the day that will not be followed by night,” that is, that He and the Bab will guide Their Successors – the Institutions of the Cause until the appearance of the next Manifestation of God, and He has taken from us a Covenant to turn to them.

Shoghi Effendi refers to the “twin Covenants” in one of his letters to America:

“Above all, the paramount duty of deepening the spiritual life of these newly fledged, these precious and highly esteemed co-workers, and of enlightening their minds regarding the essential verities enshrined in their Faith, its fundamental institutions, its history and genesis — the twin Covenants of Baha’u’llah and of `Abdu’l-Baha … must continue to constitute the most vital aspect of the great spiritual Crusade …” [1]

We do not often speak of the Covenant of `Abdu’l-Baha, but it is often referred to by the Guardian, and in several letters written on his behalf, he emphasizes how important it is to understand its provisions:

“… the believers need to be deepened in their knowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha.” [2]

“The Youth must ponder deeply over the significance and implications of the Covenants of Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha, for these form the hub of the Baha’i wheel, so to speak, the point of unity and strength for all the believers all over the world.  Without these Covenants the Divine Protection of God over this new world Faith would not exist.  Obedience to these Covenants is the stronghold of all the Baha’is, everywhere. The Youth must grasp this fundamental truth, for this will strengthen them in their service to the Cause, as nothing else can or will.” [3]

The Guardian emphasized the importance of strengthening the new Baha’is in the Covenant of `Abdu’l-Baha as well as the Covenant of Baha’u’llah:

“Above all, the utmost endeavour should be exerted by your Assembly to familiarize the newly enrolled believers with the fundamental and spiritual verities of the Faith, … to instil in them a deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha … ” [4]

“The unity and solidarity of its constituent members must be simultaneously reinforced, its roots permanently planted in the soil of the Covenants of both Baha’u’llah and `Abdu’l-Baha … ” [5]

“The deepening and enrichment of the spiritual life of the individual believer, … his understanding of the fundamentals of the Covenants established by its Author and the authorised Interpreter of its teachings…” [6]

Shoghi Effendi stated through his secretary that firmness in the twin Covenants is the very foundation of a Baha’i’s spiritual life:

“The thing the German believers must do is to deepen themselves in the Covenants of Baha’u’llah and `Abdu’l-Baha.  Mere intellectual understanding of the teachings is not enough. Deep spirituality is essential, and the foundation of true spirituality is steadfastness in the Covenant.” [7]

The Master promised us “mental tests” and the Guardian promised that these intellectual tests would be safely met by studying the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Baha:

” … the believers need to be deepened in their knowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha.  This is the stronghold of the Faith of every Baha’i, and that which enables him to withstand every test and the attacks of the enemies outside the Faith, and the far more dangerous, insidious, lukewarm people inside the Faith who have no real attachment to the Covenant, and consequently uphold the intellectual aspect of the teachings while at the same time undermining the spiritual foundation upon which the whole Cause of God rests. He feels you and your dear family should do all you can to teach the believers the Will and Testament to strengthen their understanding of its important provisions; for all the authority of the administrative bodies, as well as of the Guardian himself, is mainly derived from this tremendous document.” [8]

 The Guardian stated through his secretary that what the believers must have “more than anything else in the world” is a deeper understanding of the Master’s and Baha’u’llah’s Covenants, and that without this the teaching work would not “accomplish anything”:

“The Guardian has been considerably disturbed by the inharmony that has arisen in Germany.  He feels that what the German Baha’is need — and must have — more than anything else in the world is a far deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Baha’u’llah and the Master.  This is the rock foundation without which no sound super-structure can be built.  Neither the administration, nor the general teaching work of the Cause in Germany, will progress, or be able to accomplish anything, unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Baha’is.  An intellectual grasp of the teachings is purely superficial; with the first real test such believers are shaken from the bough!  But once a Baha’i has the profound conviction of the authority from God, nested in the Prophet, passed on to the Master, and by Him, to the Guardians, and which flows out through the assemblies and creates order based on obedience — once a Baha’i has this, nothing can shake him.  He, therefore, urges you, and the other members of the N.G.R., to devote as much time as you possibly can, to educating the believers in the Covenant.” [9]

Since the beginning of the Guardian’s ministry at the time of the Master’s ascension, the people who have broken the Covenant have mostly broken the Covenant of `Abdu’l-Baha.  Shoghi Effendi referred to “the breakers of Baha’u’llah’s and `Abdu’l-Baha’s Covenants” on page 58 of “Messages to America,” and in a similar vein he wrote:

“It is a pity that some of the Western friends, with remarkable naivete, do not grasp the fact that there is absolutely nothing keeping those who have broken the Covenant, whether Baha’u’llah’s or the Master’s out of the Cause of God except their own inner spiritually sick condition…” [10]

It lends a whole new dimension to the concept of Covenant-breaking, to realize that in this Day to be declared a Covenant-breaker is to have broken the very Covenant of `Abdu’l-Baha by turning away from the Universal House of Justice, and that “firmness in the Covenant” means obedience to the twin Covenants by turning to the Universal House of Justice.  

So intimate is the relationship between the Covenant of Baha’u’llah and the Covenant of the Master, that Shoghi Effendi refers to them as one Document – one Will:

“Not so with the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Unlike the Dispensation of Christ, unlike the Dispensation of Muhammad, unlike all the Dispensations of the past, the apostles of Bahá’u’lláh in every land, wherever they labor and toil, have before them in clear, in unequivocal and emphatic language, all the laws, the regulations, the principles, the institutions, the guidance, they require for the prosecution and consummation of their task. Both in the administrative provisions of the Bahá’í Dispensation, and in the matter of succession, as embodied in the twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the  Guardianship, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh can summon to their aid such irrefutable evidences of Divine Guidance that none can resist, that none can belittle or ignore. Therein lies the distinguishing feature of the Bahá’í Revelation. Therein lies the strength of the unity of the Faith, of the validity of a Revelation that claims not to destroy or belittle previous Revelations, but to connect, unify, and fulfill them. This is the reason why Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have both revealed and even insisted upon certain details in connection with the Divine Economy which they have bequeathed to us, their followers. This is why such an emphasis has been placed in their Will and Testament upon the powers and prerogatives of the ministers of their Faith.

“For nothing short of the explicit directions of their Book, and the surprisingly emphatic language with which they have clothed the provisions of their Will, could possibly safeguard the Faith for which they have both so gloriously labored all their lives.” [11]

The Greatest Holy Leaf spoke eloquently of turning to the Master’s Covenant:

“Although the towering citadel of God’s Cause is upraised on foundations of iron, and His Word is founded on authority and power, and the loyal and firm in His Covenant, through the blessings of the Abha Paradise, stand immovable as the mountains, and are fast-rooted in their love – still, the hurricanes of tests are mighty as well, and from every side comes the thundering roar of violent commotions and bitter trials. From these, at every moment each one of us should beg of God to defend and protect us.

“Let us call to mind the clear statements and the warnings revealed by the Blessed Beauty, and the explanations and commentaries of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, particularly as found in His Will and Testament. This Testament was the last song of that Dove of the Rose-garden of Eternity, and He sang it on the branch of the Tree of bestowal and grace.  It was His principal gift, indeed the greatest of all splendours that radiated forth from that Day-Star of bounty, out of the firmament of His bestowals.  This Testament was the strong barricade built by the blessed hands of that wronged, that peerless One, to protect the garden of God’s Faith. It was the mighty stronghold circling the edifice of the Law of God. This was an overflowing treasure which the Beloved freely gave, a goodly and precious legacy, left by Him to the people of Baha.  In all the world, no gift could equal this; no dazzling gem could rival such a precious pearl.

“With His own pen, He designated as Guardian of the Cause of God, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, the Chosen Branch, and made him the ‘blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees,’ to be the one to whom all must turn, the centre and focus of all on earth.

“In unmistakable terms did He set forth the obligations and elucidated the nature of the institutions of God’s Holy Faith.  He laid hold of discord’s tree and brought it down.  He for ever shut the door on conflicting interpretations and views.  With every breath ought we to offer praise and thanks to the God of Grace for this bestowal.  It is incumbent upon us to read and meditate on the contents of the Will and Testament at all times, and implore God at His Holy Threshold that He will aid us to carry out whatsoever it ordains.” [12]

THE TWIN SUCCESSORS

Shoghi Effendi pointed out that he is not the only successor under the Master’s Covenant; the House of Justice is co-successor with the institution of the Guardianship:

“They [Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha] have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world.” [13]

___________________________

NOTES

[1] Shoghi Effendi, “This Hour, Crowded With Destiny,” letter dated August 18, 1949, “Citadel of Faith,” p. 76.

[2] From a letter of the Guardian’s secretary on his behalf to an individual Baha’i in Germany, The Light of Divine Guidance, Volume 2, page 84.

[3] From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Youth Committee of the Baha’is of Germany and Austria dated 20 October 1949, “The Light of Divine Guidance,” Volume 2, page 89.

[4] Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, pp. 61-62.

[5] Shoghi Effendi, Letters to Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957, p. 80.

[6] Shoghi Effendi, Letters to Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957, p. 93.

[7] From a letter of the Guardian’s secretary on his behalf to an individual Baha’i in Germany, “The Light of Divine Guidance,” Volume 2, page 83.

[8] From a letter of the Guardian’s secretary on his behalf to Mrs. Anna Grossman, “The Light of Divine Guidance,” Volume 2, page 84.

[9] From a letter of the Guardian’s secretary on his behalf to Hermann Grossman, “The Light of Divine Guidance,” Volume 2, pp. 83-84.

[10] From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States dated April 11, 1949, Lights of Guidance, Second Edition, Page 188, #618.

[11] (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 21)

[12] From a letter of the Greatest Holy Leaf, “Bahiyyih Khanum,” pp. 209-211.

[13] Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 19.

Register for Charters of the Faith: A Wilmette Institute Course – Brent Poirier, Faculty

I wanted to announce that the Wilmette Institute is offering the following course facilitated by faculty member and dearest brother, Brent Poirier, which starts this weekend. Read more

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