Successorship and the Election of the Universal House of Justice:
The Universal House of Justice 1963 —2013

By Ali Nakhjavani

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #118
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
June 30 – July 4, 2013
(see list of papers from #118)

Next presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #121
Louhelen Bahá'í Center: Davison, Michigan, USA
October 10–13, 2013
(see list of papers from #121)

Next presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #123
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, CA
May 22–25, 2014
(see list of papers from #123)

    The advent of the 50th Anniversary of the election of the Universal House of Justice is an appropriate time to recall the bewilderment of the Bahá'í world at the sudden passing of the beloved Guardian in November 1957, the pivotal role played by the Hands of the Cause of God, as Chief Stewards and Custodians of the Faith during the interregnum, the emergence of the Universal House of Justice, on the Hundredth Anniversary of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, and the holding of the Most Great Jubilee in London to mark the conclusion of Shoghi Effendi's monumental Ten Year Crusade.

    The friends were on the one hand grieved because of the physical absence of the beloved Guardian, but, on the other, they were rejoicing at the victories won during the Crusade, and at the inception of an Institution ordained in the Most Holy Book and destined to become the "last refuge of a tottering civilization".

    There was a need, however, for the friends to be assured that the year 1963 had been anticipated in our texts. They also wondered: Will there be new Teaching Plans? Will there be future Guardians?

    Opposition to the Faith was clearly anticipated in the Writings. If the Administrative Order were to be attacked on the grounds that no living Guardian existed, as foreshadowed in the first section of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, how were the friends to respond? Was there any text to indicate that the Guardianship will not be an on-going Institution throughout the Bahá'í Dispensation? Had Shoghi Effendi given any hints in his writings on the future leadership of the Faith after his passing?

    This presentation will deal with such issues. Its main purpose is to help the friends in defending the Administrative Order in its present form. An important part of this presentation will deal with historical facts after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, the defection of Mirza Muhammad-Ali, the similarity of method and purpose in the application of the Law of Succession by Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, the resolution of apparent problems arising from statements made by the Guardian in his The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, and the guarantees stipulated in the Constitution of the Universal House of Justice that the Covenant of God's Holy Cause will continue to be impregnable, unassailable and incorruptible till the end of the dispensation, when God's new Manifestation will appear, to Whom, in the words of the Constitution "will belong all authority and power".

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