Guardian of the Cause of God
Shoghi Effendi was related to both of the twin Manifestations of God of this age. His father was related to the Bab and his mother to Baha’u’llah. Abdu’l-Baha was the grandfather of Shoghi Effendi, and He taught His grandson how to pray. The early education of Shoghi Effendi included attending Catholic schools and a Protestant College. Shoghi Effendi loved his grandfather and mastered the English, French, Persian, Turkish, and Arabic languages so he could spend more time with Abdu’l-Baha and act as His secretary.
When he finished his studies at the American University in Beirut, Shoghi Effendi was sent by Abdu’l-Baha to Balliol College, one of the schools of Oxford University in Oxford, England.
After the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha was read by His Family. Shoghi Effendi was shocked to learn that he was named the successor of Abdu’l-Baha, who designated him “the Sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God.” Moreover, he learned that Abdu’l-Baha, his beloved grandfather, had designated him as the Guardian when he was a child, but had never disclosed it to anyone.
In His Will and Testament, Abdu’l-Baha made it very clear what He bequeathed to humanity and put under the protection of the Abha Beauty, Baha’u’llah Himself. He delineated how humanity should respond to their inheritance of both the authority of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice:
“…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 Abha Beauty… 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.”
Shoghi Effendi was not only the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, he was a visionary who could cast into words what his infallible guidance understood to be the purpose of Baha’u’llah’s mission to unite the earth. In The Unfoldment of World Civilization, written in 1936, a year that would be sandwiched between two devastating world wars, Shoghi Effendi envisions the future when the Universal House of Justice would work to direct the establishment of order across the planet and fashion an age of peace for the benefit of humanity:
“The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baha’u’llah, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded ….”
“A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation – such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving.”
In God Passes By, a masterpiece of English prose, Shoghi Effendi wrote majestically and with a thunderous clarity about the early and triumphant history of the Faith. Yes, it was a torturous road that the Bab and Baha’u’llah and their followers were forced to walk, with tens of thousands of them being slaughtered for their beliefs and for refusing to recant their newly born faith, but they did it joyfully for the sake of God, and today their oppressors are all forgotten. The light of the Twin Manifestations of God still shines; its radiance is sweeping across the planet, uplifting souls everywhere.
At age 68, Abdu’l-Baha, having spent fifty years as an exile and a prisoner of the Persian and Ottoman Empires, chose to spend 239 days in North America. He traveled to many of the major cities in the United States, on both on the East and West coasts, and also in the central states, and gave hundreds of talks and presentations along the way to a like number of diverse audiences of all races, religions, and social classes. All were delighted by His presence – even those who were predisposed not to like Him for whatever reason they might have imagined. Years later, Shoghi Effendi wrote that Abdu’l-Baha’s sole purpose was to raise the call of Baha’u’llah throughout America. Everywhere He went, Abdu’l-Baha’s pivotal theme is summarized in this quote:
“In countless verses Baha’u’llah acclaims the potencies with which His Revelation has infused the life of the planet. ‘The oneness of mankind’ is the central theme and ultimate goal of His teachings; hence, He repeatedly calls for the world’s peoples to establish unity among themselves, warning that there is no alternative if the human race is to fulfill its purpose for being. The insistence of this call implies the coming of age of the entire human race – the highest level to which humanity can evolve after untold ages of social development involving the prolonged stages of its collective experience. An organic global unity – a Golden Age of peace as promised in all the Holy Scriptures – is the consummate stage to which Baha’u’lláh directs humanity. This pivotal theme was elucidated by Abdu’l-Baha in His numerous addresses to American audiences in a variety of settings.”
Abdu’l-Baha arrived in New York on April 11, 1912. At the time, America was a third-rate power. Nonetheless, Abdu’l-Baha loved the American people. In His public addresses, He rained encouragement and His blessings on America. In Cleveland He said, “The American continent gives signs and evidences of very great advancement; its future is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are far-reaching, and it will lead all nations spiritually.”
In addition to other labors, Shoghi Effendi, who loved the English language, translated into peerless English a host of the writings of the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha. The significance of this is that Shoghi Effendi was designated by Abdu’l-Baha as the authoritative interpreter of the Baha’i writings. The inspired quality of his translation work assures humanity that they have been conferred the Will of God through the authoritative pillars of the Baha’i Faith.
The list of the accomplishments of Shoghi Effendi will confound and delight scholars for hundreds of years as they dig through the volumes of his indefatigable work. From the beginning of his Guardianship, Shoghi Effendi had a vision of how the religion of God should progress. He worked tirelessly to communicate his inspired vision to Baha’is throughout the world. In addition to writing books, he wrote thousands of letters of encouragement, advice, and guidance to both individual Baha’is and Baha’i communities during his short life. Shoghi Effendi was 60 when he passed away in 1957. He was one of some two million people worldwide who caught the Asian Flu and died in the global pandemic. He is buried in London’s New Southgate Cemetery.