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Old 08-21-2017, 01:48 PM   #1
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Two questions on Guardianship

Dear friends

I am studying the "World Order of Bahá'u'lláh" by Shoghi Effendi and have two questions. Please help me with your insights or any reference to Scriptures or UHJ letters that can provide light.

My questions are

1. Did Shoghi Effendi expect the Guardian to be a member of the Universal House of Justice (specifically, its president or head)? On the one hand, in some passage the Guardianship and the UHJ are presented as two separate, parallel institutions. For example, when the metaphor "two pillars" is used, or when it is said that each one is expected to "function within its own sphere". On other paragraph, however, Shoghi seems to speak about the Guardian as being part of the UHJ.

"Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. He cannot override the decision of the majority of his fellow-members... etc."


2. Did Shoghi Effendi think in Guardianship as an institution, or as a role? The question is relevant, I guess, because an institution implies some permanency. It does not die when the Guardian dies.
In His Will and Testament, Abdul'Bahá never used the term "Guardianship" but "Guardian", so it seems he thought in a role and not a permanent institution. Could the use of the term "Guardianship" by Shoghi Effendi imply He was thinking in a permanent position that would be filled periodically?

Thanks in advance for your guidance.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-21-2017 at 01:59 PM.
 
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Old 08-21-2017, 08:27 PM   #2
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Hello Camachoe:

First of all, please keep in mind that Shoghi Effendi was designated by ‘Abdu’-Baha in His Will and Testament as “the expounder (interpreter) of the words of God” (Part 1). Years earlier, Baha’u’llah also revealed: “Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom. . . .” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, LXXXIX). My point here is that whatever Shoghi Effendi wrote in his “authoritative” letters to the Baha’i community(ies) is in some manner an interpretation, or an explanation of the intent, of the “words of God”. According to Shoghi Effendi (as the appointed Interpreter), the verses of Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-i-Aqdas “clearly anticipate the (hereditary) institution of the Guardianship” (The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah – The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 147). Also according to Shoghi Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament served as a supplemental Text to the Kitab-i-Aqdas making clear Baha’u’llah’s divine intent.

As there are many in our contemporary Baha’i community who strive to interpret the Interpreter’s writings and explain away what Shoghi Effendi actually wrote “in clear and unambiguous language”, I will bring to your attention to a letter dated May 2, 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi a couple of months after he wrote ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’ treatise: “Concerning the institution of the Guardianship and its true position in the Administrative Order of the Cause, the Guardian would urge you to make a careful study of the subject in his last general letter addressed to the West and published under the title of ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’. In the last part of this important treatise you will find an adequate and authoritative analysis of the origins, nature and function of that institution, and of its unique significance in the World Order of Baha’u’llah. You should also recommend your fellow-believers to better acquaint themselves with the contents of that same letter, so that their vision of the Cause and their understanding of its present-day administration may acquire in strength and in depth.” I encourage you to carefully study this treatise and to strive to understand every word written by the divinely appointed Interpreter, Shoghi Effendi, to better apprehend the divine Intent of Baha’u’llah, even though the affairs of the Faith may not have unfolded according to that Intent.

-LR
 
Old 08-22-2017, 01:52 AM   #3
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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The key here is that Shoghi Effendi for reasons that tie back to the Covernant, could not appoint another Guardian. Thus one has to conclude this God given test of faith had to be overcome with the Faith remaining undivided.

Shoghi Effendi had no child he could appoint and no other person was available that had not already broken the Covernant of Baha'u'llah. His hands were tied.

Regards Tony
 
Old 08-22-2017, 04:28 AM   #4
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Tony wrote:

Quote:
The key here is that Shoghi Effendi for reasons that tie back to the Covernant, could not appoint another Guardian. Thus one has to conclude this God given test of faith had to be overcome with the Faith remaining undivided.

Shoghi Effendi had no child he could appoint and no other person was available that had not already broken the Covernant of Baha'u'llah. His hands were tied.
Camachoe:

Tony has provided what quickly became after Shoghi Effendi’s passing the “official” reasons and answers as to why Shoghi Effendi could not and did not appoint a successor Guardian. As you continue to learn more about the Faith, I do not encourage you to question this “official” position or to seek out other answers. There very well may not be other answers. The “official” reasons and answers provided do make sense. But the fact remains that Shoghi Effendi continued to write, even well after expelling from the Faith those persons mentioned by Tony, about the continuation of the institutions of the Guardianship and the Hands of the Cause of God, both unfolding well into the future and as being necessary components of the World Order of Baha’u’llah. Because of this, there are questions that remain unanswered. Those forming the “official” answers were officials of the Faith and deserve our highest respect and admiration, but they were not the appointed interpreters of the affairs of the Faith.

Please be aware that there are those in our Baha’i community who are very quick to suspect or judge the firmness in the Covenant of those who may seek answers to the unanswered questions. I will also be quick to clarify that neither are the answers found in the false claims made by a few others who since the passing of Shoghi Effendi have claimed to be a successor of the Guardian. These individuals are truly covenant breakers who have no place in the World Order of Baha’u’llah.

To re-emphasize, I would urge you to study deeply the writings of Shoghi Effendi as he was the “interpreter of the words of God” who has expounded upon those “words” and who has explained the intent of ‘Abdu’l-Baha as well. No others have that divinely appointed authority.

Please take care.

- LR
 
Old 08-22-2017, 05:17 AM   #5
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They are (or rather were) to be like separate branches of the same government. Both separate and unified, if that helps explain the language choices.
 
Old 08-22-2017, 05:53 AM   #6
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Dear friends

Thanks a lot for your warm and kind advice.
I know this is an important topic and that is why I am trying to study the subject carefully.
Please be aware that I disregard automatically any claim from self-appointed, Covenant-breaker pseudo-guardians.
My questions are sincere and come exactly form the fact that I am reading as carefully as I can and I want to understand what Shoghi Effendi wrote and why he wrote it.

So, let me start with my second question. If Guardianship is an institution, an institution as sacred and permanent as the UHJ, as it seems is the case, then it would be reasonable to expect that God will not leave it empty and will appoint a Guardian in the future. As Tony says, we may be going through a test now. But every test is temporary.

I find this reasonable, but I may be wrong.

(It may be, for example that the Guardianship institution was conceived by Abdul Bahá, but was not part of the core doctrines of Bahá'u'llah. Abdul Bahá was an authorized interpreter but not a generator of new doctrines. In such case, as helpful and important as the Guardianship was, the Cause can go ahead without Guardianship for the rest of this Dispensation and we have not to worry at all about it).

Well, continuing with the reasoning of the Guardianship of a permanent institution that could be filled in the future, it may well be that a future descendant from current Covenant Breakers, for example, shows total loyalty to Cause of God, to the UHJ, and then the UHJ finds him eligible. This could be so because, as we all know from the Teachings, sins are not transmitted through genes. Each person is responsible for their individual soul.
Nowadays, as I understand, the remaining family of Abdul Bahá are either uninterested in the Faith or opposing the Faith. So they are not eligible. But this could change in the future. In the end, in the genealogy of Jesus we find people who committed great sins, like King David himself.


Now in regards to my first question, in regards to Shoghi Effendi's description in "THe World Order of Bahá'u'lláh", I have understood this in two possible ways
1) Undertanding 1: The Guardianship acting separated from the UHJ
2) Understanding 2: The Guardian belonging to the UHJ and acting as the Head of it, although cannot override the opinion of his fellow members.




What is your take on Shoghi Effendi's description of the Guardianship?

Last edited by camachoe; 08-22-2017 at 06:05 AM.
 
Old 08-22-2017, 06:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Dear friends

Thanks a lot for your warm and kind advice.
I know this is an important topic and that is why I am trying to study the subject carefully.
Please be aware that I disregard automatically any claim from self-appointed, Covenant-breaker pseudo-guardians.
My questions are sincere and come exactly form the fact that I am reading as carefully as I can and I want to understand what Shoghi Effendi wrote and why he wrote it.

So, let me start with my second question. If Guardianship is an institution, an institution as sacred and permanent as the UHJ, as it seems is the case, then it would be reasonable to expect that God will not leave it empty and will appoint a Guardian in the future. As Tony says, we may be going through a test now. But every test is temporary.

I find this reasonable, but I may be wrong.

(It may be, for example that the Guardianship institution was conceived by Abdul Bahá, but was not part of the core doctrines of Bahá'u'llah. Abdul Bahá was an authorized interpreter but not a generator of new doctrines. In such case, as helpful and important as the Guardianship was, the Cause can go ahead without Guardianship for the rest of this Dispensation and we have not to worry at all about it).

Well, continuing with the reasoning of the Guardianship of a permanent institution that could be filled in the future, it may well be that a future descendant from current Covenant Breakers, for example, shows total loyalty to Cause of God, to the UHJ, and becomes eligible. This could be so because, as we all know from the Teachings, sins are not transmitted through genes. Each person is responsible for their individual soul.
Nowadays, as I understand, the remaining family of Abdul Bahá are either uninterested in the Faith or opposing the Faith. So they are not eligible. But this could change in the future. In the end, in the genealogy of Jesus we find people who committed great sins, like King David himself.


Now in regards to my first question, in regards to Shoghi Effendi's description in "THe World Order of Bahá'u'lláh", I have understood this in two possible ways
1) Undertanding 1: The Guardianship acting separated from the UHJ
2) Understanding 2: The Guardian belonging to the UHJ and acting as the Head of it, although cannot override the opinion of his fellow members.




What is your take on Shoghi Effendi's description of the Guardianship?
Aha.

My take is that they are separate but that the Guardian still acts as the "head" of the Faith as an organization while the UHJ works as a legislative body.

Like how, for example, President Enrique Peña Nieto could be the called the "head" of your nation's government, but he's still independent of the Congreso de la Unión and the Cámara de Senadores.

The Guardian, I take from Shoghi's writings, is the "head" of the "government" of the faith, whereas the UHJ is our legislative branch. And while the Guardian is the technical head of the Faith, he is still separate from the UHJ itself, which has different powers and is ultimately not answerable to the Guardian in carrying out their duties.
 
Old 08-22-2017, 06:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
Aha.

My take is that they are separate but that the Guardian still acts as the "head" of the Faith as an organization while the UHJ works as a legislative body.

Like how, for example, President Enrique Peña Nieto could be the called the "head" of your nation's government, but he's still independent of the Congreso de la Unión and the Cámara de Senadores.


I like the fact that you know about my country!
 
Old 08-23-2017, 12:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Now in regards to my first question, in regards to Shoghi Effendi's description in "THe World Order of Bahá'u'lláh", I have understood this in two possible ways
1) Undertanding 1: The Guardianship acting separated from the UHJ
2) Understanding 2: The Guardian belonging to the UHJ and acting as the Head of it, although cannot override the opinion of his fellow members.




What is your take on Shoghi Effendi's description of the Guardianship?
I have no doubt that the Guardian saw the Guardianship as a distinct institution, separate from the House of Justice, with a different role. This is a theme one finds throughout the World Order letters, where he gradually unfolds the implications of the fact that Baha'u'llah had ordained the house of Justice, while Abdu'l-Baha had created the Guardianship AND referred to the house of Justice, in his Will and Testament. Shoghi Effendi resolves this as a constitutional law structure, comparable to the separation of the judicial, legislative and executive branches in a civil government.

On the other hand, Abdu'l-Baha had also made the Guardian the head of the House of Justice. Shoghi Effendi therefore emphasizes that, although he is the 'head' of the institution, he cannot overrule his fellow-members. He even leaves it open whether he gets a vote or not.

There is no possibility of the House of Justice appointing a Guardian: only the previous Guardian could nominate a successor, which he had to do in his own lifetime (not in his Will), and get the nomination approved or declined by a body of nine hands of the cause voting in secret ballot. The Hands were to be appointed by the Guardian, not the House of Justice. We have no nomination by the previous Guardian, and no Hands, and no way of appointing Hands ... so it cannot be done.
 
Old 08-23-2017, 12:46 PM   #10
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Another thought is the title of Guardian.

In life if we look at the role of a Guardian, they are used and needed until those they look after reach Maturity to undertake their own decicsions.

Regards Tony
 
Old 08-25-2017, 07:23 PM   #11
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Guardianship is living Institution

There is one point that I do not think has yet been mentioned.

The Guardianship is indeed a living, breathing institution that actually still functions to this day. This is because the writings of our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, are limitless and timeless in their breadth and scope.

In fact, the UHJ and indeed the entire administrative Baha'i Order is constantly referring back to the Guardian and his writings. We are still learning how to develop the World Order of Baha'u'llah and the Administrative systems based on the foundations provided by the beloved Guardian.

In this way, the Guardianship is actually still functioning and in a way Shoghi Effendi is at the head of the UHJ as the Supreme Body turns to the 'expounder' of the words of Baha'u'llah in some way, shape, or form for just about everything that they do!

The fact that there is no physical Guardian with us on this earthly plane, does not mean there is no Guardianship that is indeed still guarding over the Faith
 
Old 08-27-2017, 12:38 PM   #12
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In response to post #10:

Quote:
Another thought is the title of Guardian.

In life if we look at the role of a Guardian, they are used and needed until those they look after reach Maturity to undertake their own decicsions.

Regards Tony

As an alternative to what is suggested, I will offer for consideration Ruhiyyah Khanum’s (wife of Shoghi Effendi) explanation of the of the meaning of the word “Guardian” as it applies to Shoghi Effendi’s role as the Guardian of the Cause of God. “ . . . Guardian is a very weak English equivalent for what the original Arabic `Valiyy-i-Amru'llah' means, Defender of the Faith, Leader, Commander-in-Chief . . . “ (The Priceless Pearl, London: Bahai Publishing Trust, 1969, p. 410).

Some additional understandings of the meaning(s) of the role of the “Guardian” come from the words of Shoghi Effendi himself where he states that the “institution of the Guardianship (is) the pivot of ‘Abdu’-Baha’s Will and Testament” (Letter dated May 4, 1953; printed in Messages to the Baha’i World: 1950 – 1957, p. 149); and where he wrote that the "Institution of Guardianship," is the "head cornerstone of the Administrative Order of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh," (printed in Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha’is of North America 1932 – 1946, p. 8)


Shoghi Effendi emphasized more the significance of the institution of the Guardianship rather than giving too much focus to himself as the Guardian of the Cause of God. To Shoghi Effendi, it is the institutions that are of significant importance rather than the individuals who serve on them, whether it be the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause of God, the International Baha’i Counsel, the Universal House of Justice , or the National and Local Houses of Justice.


In addition to the suggestion in the quote above (that the Faith had attained to a state of “Maturity” at the time of the Guardian’s passing), I will offer for consideration that throughout Shoghi Effendi’s 36 years as Guardian, he repeatedly stated in his writings from beginning to end that the maturity of the Faith and its Administrative Order would be attained “in the fullness of time”. Throughout those years, he referred over and again to the Faith and the Administrative Order as being in an embryonic form or in a state of infancy. To provide a couple of examples; in the words of Shoghi Effendi, written barely seven months before his passing, he referred to “the institutions of the embryonic Baha’i World Order” (Letter of April, 1957, printed in Messages to the Baha’i World: 1950 – 1957, p. 104). In Shoghi Effendi’s last known letter (October, 1957), he announced “yet another step in the progressive unfoldment” and a “further expansion” of the institution of the Hands of the Cause of God. He referred to them as “the Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth” and as “high ranking officers of a fast evolving World Administrative Order “. . . (Messages to the Baha’i World: 1950 -1957, p. 127).

Shoghi Effendi’s words do not appear to indicate anywhere, whether in his last letter, or in any prior letter, an attainment to a “Maturity” of the Cause of God. It is unlikely that his numerous references to “in the fullness time” meant that the institutions of the Faith would evolve from an embryonic form to the state of maturity within the few months or days before his passing.

-LR
 
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