Celebrating the lives of Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian?

Nov 2015
145
Canada
#1
Greetings friends. I hope your fast is going well so far! I'm curious.
We commemorate the birth and death of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, and the death of Abdu'l-Baha. But if a Baha'i were to (obviously in no officially sanctioned capacity) celebrate the births of the Guardian or Abdu'l-Baha, would this be okay?
A friend asked me a similar enough question and it left me scratching my head as to why there is no holiday or commemoration for the life of the Guardian. The best answer I could give them was "I don't see why one can't celebrate it" but I don't find myself too satisfied with my answer. I figured I'd open the floor to our lovely community here!
 
Sep 2010
4,519
Normanton Far North Queensland
#3
Greetings friends. I hope your fast is going well so far! I'm curious.
We commemorate the birth and death of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, and the death of Abdu'l-Baha. But if a Baha'i were to (obviously in no officially sanctioned capacity) celebrate the births of the Guardian or Abdu'l-Baha, would this be okay?
A friend asked me a similar enough question and it left me scratching my head as to why there is no holiday or commemoration for the life of the Guardian. The best answer I could give them was "I don't see why one can't celebrate it" but I don't find myself too satisfied with my answer. I figured I'd open the floor to our lovely community here!
It is to respect their wishes.

This is some quotes.

Abdu'l-Baha - Birthday

O ye friends of God! According to what is heard, some of the friends have celebrated my birthday in some countries on the fifth of Zamadi-Avval (23rd day of May). Although their intention is no other than good, their aim be to promote the Word of God and to commemorate the True One among the people in this manner, yet, according to the text of the Religion of God and the irrefutable command, the fifth of Zamadi-Avval (May 23rd) is the day of the Declaration of His Highness the Supreme (the Bab)—may my life be a sacrifice to Him! Consequently, they must celebrate and adorn that Blessed Day in the name of the Declaration of that Orb of regions; make rejoicing and happiness, and impart the glad-tidings of heavenly beatitude to each other. For that holy essence was the Herald of the Most great Name. Therefore, no one must mention that day of the fifth of Zamadi-Avval (May 23rd) except as the Day of the Declaration of His Highness the BaB. This is the unquestionable text of the Religion of God. Regarding the birth of this servant, which also happened on that day, this a proof of the favors and bounties of God toward this servant. However, this Blessed Day must be known as the Day of the Declaration of His Highness the Supreme (BAB) and the beginning of the effulgence of the Sun of Reality. You must on this account be engaged in rejoicing, happiness and gladness. This is the truth! Beware! Beware! that you avoid that which is mentioned; otherwise, it will cause the utmost grief to the heart of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 575)

The Day of the Covernant was given by Abdul'baha instead.

Regards Tony
 
Mar 2015
225
Bend area, Oregon
#4
Saveyist:

In addition to what Tony has offered, I will share the following information for your consideration:

In mid-May 1932 two women pilgrims, Keith Ransom-Kehler and Lorol Schopflocher, had opportunity to discuss the Faith with Shoghi Effendi. The conversation with the Guardian moved toward the topic similar to what you have brought up in your post. A portion of the dialog reportedly went as follows:

Lorol:
There are those who pray to you, Shoghi Effendi.

Shoghi Effendi:
This is absolutely heretical. Such things are not permissable [sic]. It is wrong to address me as Lord or Master, or Thee or Thine. I had to send a very abrupt cable to the friends in Bombay to prevent them from celebrating by birthday. If this starts now there will be no end to it. The first Guardian's birthday, the first Guardian's death, the tenth Guardian's accession. they would have 400 Guardian's celebrations in 365 days. Nor must they refer to me as His Holiness. These things have no place in our Faith, they savor of popishness.

Keith:
There is a picture of you in the Bahá'í hall at Karachi labeled "His Holiness, Shoghi Effendi".

Shoghi Effendi: (emphatically)
Then they must take it down.

Keith:
Oh my, I should not have mentioned this!

Lorol:
Why not if it is wrong?

Shoghi Effendi:
I have requested, suggested, but now the time has come when I must insist in no unmistakable terms that those things must cease. For instance, this is what we have been speaking about when you say I am infallible, that is, when I insist. In this I am infallible.

Lorol:
There are those who pray to you, Shoghi Effendi.

Shoghi Effendi:
This is absolutely heretical. Such things are not permissable [sic]. It is wrong to address me as Lord or Master, or Thee or Thine. I had to send a very abrupt cable to the friends in Bombay to prevent them from celebrating by birthday. If this starts now there will be no end to it. The first Guardian's birthday, the first Guardian's death, the tenth Guardian's accession. they would have 400 Guardian's celebrations in 365 days. Nor must they refer to me as His Holiness. These things have no place in our Faith, they savor of popishness.

Keith:
There is a picture of you in the Bahá'í hall at Karachi labeled "His Holiness, Shoghi Effendi".

Shoghi Effendi: (emphatically)
Then they must take it down.

Keith:
Oh my, I should not have mentioned this!

Lorol:
Why not if it is wrong?

Shoghi Effendi:
I have requested, suggested, but now the time has come when I must insist in no unmistakable terms that those things must cease. For instance, this is what we have been speaking about when you say I am infallible, that is, when I insist. In this I am infallible.



That pilgrimage visit with the Guardian preceded what he actually wrote on the topic in his “The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh’ treatise dated February 1934. In the segment of this work titled ‘The Administrative Oder’ he wrote:

"No Guardian of the Faith, I feel it my solemn duty to place on record, can ever claim to be the perfect exemplar of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh or the stainless mirror that reflects His light. Though overshadowed by the unfailing, the unerring protection of Bahá'u'lláh and of the Báb, and however much he may share with `Abdu'l-Bahá the right and obligation to interpret the Bahá'í teachings, he remains essentially human and cannot, if he wishes to remain faithful to his trust, arrogate to himself, under any pretense whatsoever, the rights, the privileges and prerogatives which Bahá'u'lláh has chosen to confer upon His Son. In the light of this truth to pray to the Guardian of the Faith, to address him as lord and master, to designate him as his holiness, to seek his benediction, to celebrate his birthday, or to commemorate any event associated with his life would be tantamount to a departure from those established truths that are enshrined within our beloved Faith. The fact that the Guardian has been specifically endowed with such power as he may need to reveal the purport and disclose the implications of the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh and of `Abdu'l-Bahá does not necessarily confer upon him a station co-equal with those Whose words he is called upon to interpret. He can exercise that right and discharge this obligation and yet remain infinitely inferior to both of them in rank and different in nature.

"To the integrity of this cardinal principle of our Faith the words, the deeds of its present and future Guardians must abundantly testify. By their conduct and example they must needs establish its truth upon an unassailable foundation and transmit to future generations unimpeachable evidences of its reality.

"For my own part to hesitate in recognizing so vital a truth or to vacillate in proclaiming so firm a conviction must constitute a shameless betrayal of the confidence reposed in me by `Abdu'l-Bahá and an unpardonable usurpation of the authority with which He Himself has been invested."


(The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 151 -152)

Last November 4, 2018 (anniversary of Shoghi Effendi's passing) my wife and I hosted the Feast of Qudrat/Power in our home. Rather than giving attention to the personality of Shoghi Effendi, the devotional readings we selected gave focus to the "power" of the Covenant and the relationship of the institution of the Guardianship to it.

I hope you find this information interesting and helpful. -LR
 
Jun 2014
1,081
Wisconsin
#6
I always really admired how restrained Shoghi Effendi was. He always seemed careful to avoid being elevated above the station to which he was appointed, and was repeatedly careful to express in all clarity the limits to his own infallibility and authority.
 
Mar 2015
225
Bend area, Oregon
#7
Walrus:

You expressed, “I always really admired how restrained Shoghi Effendi was. He always seemed careful to avoid being elevated above the station to which he was appointed, and was repeatedly careful to express in all clarity the limits to his own infallibility and authority.”

I certainly agree with you that Shoghi Effendi exercised the spiritual trait of humility in his approach to his divinely bestowed duties as Guardian of the Cause of God. That humility is one of the “signs” of the greatness of one who was designated as “the Light that after my (`Abdu'l-Bahá’s) passing shineth from the Dayspring of Divine Guidance . . .” (Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Part 1, paragraph 2) As for me on the other hand, I have always been a bit saddened by how those inside the Faith fail to exercise that same spiritual trait of humility toward the divinely created institution of the Guardianship, but rather continue to deemphasize and explain away the significance of that “essential”, “inseparable”, “vital” institution. The Bahá'í world community and all humanity, and the future World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, has surely been “deprived of that hereditary principle which as `Abdu'l-Bahá has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God” (‘The Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh’; ‘The World order of Bahá’u’lláh’, pp. 148 & 150)

“Many of the Bahá'ís, ... while loyal to the Cause and the Guardian, do not fully grasp the implications of the Master's Will and the full station of the Guardians of the Cause. They need to study more deeply the spiritual side of the Teachings and the Will itself. And this he has advised the ... to do." (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 5, 1949, in Lights of Guidance, no. 617)

Take care. –LR
 

Similar threads