Posted by: samandal | May 2, 2010

Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, IV: The Other House

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

The Guardian was not authorized to override any decision made by the majority of his fellow-members of the Universal House of Justice, but he was bound to insist upon a reconsideration of any enactment which he believed to conflict with the meaning and depart from the spirit of revealed utterances. It would not follow, therefore, that the Universal House of Justice would, in fact, pass any such enactment (since possible is not synonymous with probable), but rather that the Guardian could repeatedly insist upon a reconsideration of any proposed enactment based solely on his perception of its potential conflict with the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh.

It was not that the presence of the Guardian would be needed for the decisions of the House of Justice to be made valid, but rather that the absence of the Guardian would result in the mutilation of the Bahá’í world order, would affect the stability and prestige of the Faith, and would render the proper sphere of legislative action appropriate to the jurisdiction of the House completely indefinable, as only the Guardian would be able to take a long and uninterrupted view of developments essential to the integrity of the Faith. The institution of the Guardianship is, in this regard at least, the prophetic successor to Bahá’u’lláh, much like the Shí‘í imáma.

Shoghí Effendí created the first International Bahá’í Council in November 1950 as a forerunner to the Universal House of Justice. The Hands of the Cause, prominent Bahá’ís intended by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to serve solely under the direction and shadow of the Guardian, were appointed from or as members of the Council. Immediately after the death of the Guardian, who died (allegedly) intestate and without successor, a protracted power struggle ensued: the Hands of the Cause asserted the claim that they alone would be responsible for the direction of the Faith and would comprise the elected members of the House of Justice, the legislative body of the Faith. The Hands in effect extended their authority into matters over which they had no scriptural basis or jurisdiction to intervene.

Hand and president of the Council, Charles Mason Remey, whom Shoghí Effendí had appointed to a position potentially synonymous with the Guardianship, later came to believe that he was himself the second Guardian, and issued a proclamation to this effect in April 1960. His proclamation proved to be an exercise in futility.