GUARDIANSHIP…A MAJOR ISSUE IN BAHAI FAITHPosted: July 6, 2009
Other than allusions in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh to the importance of the Aghsán, the role of the Guardian was not mentioned until the reading of the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi later expressed to his wife and others that he had no foreknowledge of the existence of the Institution of Guardianship, least of all that he was appointed as Guardian.
`Abdu’l-Bahá warned the Bahá’ís to avoid the problems caused by his half-brother Muhammad `Alí. He stipulated the criteria and form for selecting future Guardians, which was to be clear and unambiguous. His will required that the Guardian appoint his successor “in his own life-time … that differences may not arise after his [the Guardian’s] passing.” The appointee was required to be either the first-born son of the Guardian, or one of the Aghsán (literally: Branches; male descendants of Bahá’u’lláh). Finally, `Abdu’l-Bahá left a responsibility to nine Hands of the Cause, elected from all of the Hands, who “whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor.”
The will also vested authority in the Guardian’s appointed assistants, known as the Hands of the Cause, giving them the right to “cast out from the congregation of the people of Bahá” anyone they deem in opposition to the Guardian.