Posted by: samandal | April 21, 2010

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, I: The Child Enthroned

‘Id-i-Ridván, the Festival of Paradise; First Day

“Envisioning an authoritarian or critical entity—be it another person or God—will activate the limbic areas of the brain that generate fear and anger. Thus, the brain is primed to fight, and so it should come as no surprise that the strongest advocates of an authoritarian God often call themselves ‘God’s warriors.’

“However, when you perceive God as a benevolent force, a different part of the brain is stimulated in the prefrontal cortex [the organ of creativity and imagination]. Loving, compassionate images, faces, or thoughts activate a circuit that involves a tiny area in the front part of your brain called the anterior cingulate. It conveniently sits between the limbic and prefrontal structures, and when stimulated, it suppresses the impulse to get angry or frightened. It also helps generate feelings of empathy toward others who are suffering or hurt.”                                                                                 (Andrew Newberg, Mark Robert Waldman: How God Changes Your Brain, page 111)

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, better known to Bahá’ís simply as Shoghí Effendí, was the first Aghsán Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. He was the eldest son of Mírzá Hádí Shírází Afnán and Diyá’iyyih Khánum, herself the eldest daughter of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He served the Bahá’í Faith in succession to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from 1922 until his unexpected death in 1957.

Shoghí Effendí was born in the prison-city of ‘Akká on 1 March 1897. He was named in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the latter’s successor while he was yet a child. He was first educated at home with the other children of the household, but was later sent to Catholic schools in Haifa and Beirut, and then to the (Anglican) Syrian College of Beirut, from which he obtained an arts degree in 1918. He then attended Balliol College at Oxford University in 1920, where he studied political science and economics. He returned to Haifa on 29 December 1921 on the death of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Bahá’u’lláh explicitly named ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as his successor in his will, the Kitáb-i-‘Ahd (Book of the Covenant), and directed that after his own death, his disciples should turn to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the interpreter of his writings. In the Súri-yi-Ghusn (Tablet of the Branch), Bahá’u’lláh clearly stated that those who had turned toward ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had turned toward God, while those who rejected him had repudiated Bahá’u’lláh. However, Bahá’u’lláh, whose own written will had preceded that of any successor or administrative structuration, also explicitly appointed Muhammad-‘Alí as his second successor, without reservation, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.