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History 4 - Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957)

© 2014, Bahá'í International Community

History 4 - Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957)

Shoghi Effendi was born in Akka in 1897, the eldest grandson of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was educated in the Middle East and for just over a year at Oxford University. He spent much of his early life helping his grandfather, in the role of secretary. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá passed away in 1921 it was found that in his will he had named Shoghi Effendi as his successor, to be the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith. Shoghi Effendi was only 24 years old and it came as a great shock to him when he had to leave Oxford to take on such an enormous task at such a young age. He was supported by his great-aunt, `Abdu’l-Bahá’s sister, Bahíyyih Khánum, the foremost and most distinguished woman in Bahá'í history. Shoghi Effendi spent over 35 years of unremitting labour as Guardian in guiding the Bahá’ís around the world. He died unexpectedly in 1957 and after his death the work of the Faith was directed by the Hands of the Cause until the election of the Universal House of Justice.

1.
What is the principal method by which Shoghi Effendi guided and inspired the Bahá’ís from 1922 to 1957?
He visited Bahá’ís in many countries and gave inspiring talks
He gave televised talks that were broadcast to large Bahá'í gatherings
He wrote thousands of letters to individuals, and to local and national assemblies
He wrote many books that were widely published
It is estimated that he wrote at least 30,000 letters to individuals, local and national assemblies. Many letters would be in answer to a variety of questions put to him, other letters were monographs addressing specific themes. He also welcomed visits from pilgrims to Haifa who gained much inspiration from his talks.
2.
One of the Guardian’s major achievements was the development of the Bahá’í land and buildings on Mount Carmel. Which of the following did he achieve?
Construction of the Archives Building to house the relics and original Writings of the Faith
Addition of a second storey and a golden dome to the Shrine of the Báb
Beautification of the area by the creation of extensive gardens
All of the above
Shoghi Effendi also laid out the overall plan for the administrative buildings which now stand along an arc in the gardens.
3.
He married Mary Sutherland Maxwell in 1937. In what city did she grow up?
Aberdeen, Scotland
Montreal, Quebec
Glasgow, Scotland
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Shoghi Effendi married Mary Maxwell, the only daughter of two Canadian Bahá’ís. She lived in Haifa and became his helpmate and constant companion, especially during the difficult years of World War Two when there were so many restrictions on travel to and from the Middle East. After her marriage she was known as Rúhiyyih Khánum. She was also an author, editor and producer.
4.
In which city do Bahá’ís visit the resting place of Shoghi Effendi?
Montreal
Haifa
London
Paris
In November 1957 Shoghi Effendi and Rúhíyyih Khánum were in London to buy furniture for the Bahá’í Archives building. They both caught Asian influenza, but although he appeared to be recovering, Shoghi Effendi died suddenly of a coronary thrombosis. Bahá’í burial law indicated that he had to be buried within one hour’s journey of his place of death. His resting place is North London.
5.
How did Shoghi Effendi learn that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had appointed him as the Guardian of the Faith?
‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote him a personal letter from Haifa
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament was read to the Bahá’ís in Haifa early in January 1922
When he returned to Haifa other friends told him that he would be the Guardian
There was a letter from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá waiting for him at Oxford early in November 1921
As a student at Oxford University, Shoghi Effendi learned that his grandfather, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had passed away on 28 November 1921. He returned to Haifa by 29 December and only when the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was read on 3 January 1921 did Shoghi Effendi know of his appointment as Guardian.
6.
When the Guardian started his work in Haifa in 1922 one of his first considerations was that the Universal House of Justice be elected. Why was it not possible for the election to happen at that time?
There was no firm administrative basis for any elections, either local or national
No National Assemblies had yet been elected at that time; they would elect a future Universal House of Justice
There was not a sufficient reservoir of qualified and well-informed believers to draw from in an election
All of the above
Although many older Bahá’ís felt that this was the time to have an election for the Universal House of Justice, having consulted older and trusted believers Shoghi Effendi realised that a more solid administrative structure must be established in many countries before such an election could be held.
7.
At different stages in his ministry Shoghi Effendi appointed a number of Bahá’ís as advisors. They had the ability to travel widely and inspire others in the work of the Faith. They were known as what?
Letters of the Living
Hands of the Cause
Cohorts of the Faithful
Counsellors
Between 1925 and 1957 Shoghi Effendi appointed 42 Bahá’ís as Hands of the Cause. They had the twin duties of encouraging Bahá’ís to spread the teachings of the Faith and protecting the Faith from those who would harm it.
8.
The Guardian encouraged the Bahá’ís to share the teachings and principles of the Faith with a wider audience by means of well-thought out plans of a fixed duration. What made the first plan for the British Isles particularly difficult?
World War Two was going on at the time
The Bahá’ís were very short of money at the time
A lot of the Bahá’ís were refugees and couldn’t speak English very well
There were only about 50 Bahá’ís in the whole country
The British Bahá’ís requested a plan early in 1944 despite the fact that war was going on at the time, which made travel difficult. This plan lasted for six years and was ultimately successful.
9.
Which Oxford College did Shoghi Effendi attend?
Jesus
Brasenose
Balliol
Worcester
Shoghi Effendi studied social, economic and political sciences at Balliol College.
10.
Shoghi Effendi wrote only one book in English. Which book was it?
God Passes By
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh
Prayers and Meditations
Kitáb-i-Iqán
God Passes By was published in 1944 and it outlined the events of the first hundred years of the Bábí-Bahá’í Faith. All the other books listed above are the titles of his translations into English of works written by Bahá’u’lláh.

 

Author:  National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

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