Posted by: samandal | April 28, 2010

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, II: My Crown and Sceptre

Díyáfat-i-Jamál, the Feast of Beauty; Ascension of Munírih Khánum

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas anticipates (by implication rather than explication) the principle, if not the institution, of the Guardianship; but in accordance with the explicit terms in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (which effectively disallowed the succession of Muhammad-‘Alí Bahá’í), Shoghí Effendí was appointed Guardian of the Cause of God (Valí amru’lláh), a title reminiscent of the Shí‘í Imáms. The Guardian was the Center of the Cause, the Sign of God on earth, and the first in an unbroken succession of Guardians from among the male descendants of Bahá’u’lláh. He was to be the head of the Universal House of Justice under the guidance and protection of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb. It was incumbent upon him to appoint his successor in his own lifetime so that disputes would not arise after his death.

The validity of the Will and Testament was challenged by a prominent American Bahá’í named Ruth White, who claimed it was an obvious forgery. She believed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had stated that the Faith could not be organized because it represented “the spirit of the age.” It should, however, be noted that the First Seven Year Plan launched by the Guardian in 1937 implemented the campaign of expansion outlined by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in his Tablets of the Divine Plan. In 1925, an Egyptian law court concluded the Bahá’í Faith possessed laws and institutions peculiar to itself. The claim of fraudulence was simply without any substantial merit whatsoever, as was the assertion that, in order to save her family from destitution, Bahíyyih Khánum conspired with Shoghí Effendí in the creation of the Guardianship.

The personal life of the Guardian was almost entirely subordinated to his work. In 1937, Shoghí Effendí married Mary Sutherland Maxwell (later known as Rúhíyyih Khánum), the daughter of William Sutherland Maxwell and May Maxwell (née Bolles), two prominent early Canadian Bahá’ís. They had no children, but Rúhíyyih Khánum became the constant companion and devoted helpmate of the Guardian until his death from influenza on 4 November 1957 at the London home of seer and visionary Tudor Pole. The Guardian was buried in London since, in accordance with Bahá’í burial law, one must be buried within one hour’s travel distance of the place where one dies.

“How to assume the reigns of authority, with no document to support us, other than the general theological statements about the Hands?”                                   (Rúhíyyih Khánum: Ministry of the Custodians, page 9)