Shoghi Effendi

It may sound disrespectful to say the Guardian was a mischievous child, but he himself told me he was the acknowledged ringleader of all the other children. Bubbling with high spirits, enthusiasm and daring, full of laughter and wit, the small boy led the way in many pranks; whenever something was afoot, behind it would be found Shoghi Effendi! This boundless energy was often a source of anxiety as he would rush madly up and down the long flight of high steps to the upper story of the house, to the consternation of the pilgrims below, waiting to meet the Master. His exuberance was irrepressible and was in the child the same force that was to make the man such an untiring and unflinching commander-in-chief of the forces of Bahá’u’lláh, leading them to victory after victory, indeed, to the spiritual conquest of the entire globe. We have a very reliable witness to this characteristic of the Guardian, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself, Who wrote on a used envelope a short sentence to please His little grandson: "Shoghi Effendi is a wise man -- but he runs about very much!"

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 294

When I first arrived in the Holy Land, there were two or three things about the Guardian that impressed me very much. And one was, particularly, the size of the Guardian. Now in the West, for you people who haven’t been in the West, we’ve come to associate the idea of majesty and greatness with size. The man had to be a great man, had to be a big man, six feet tall, big shoulders, and so on. Shoghi Effendi was a very and refined man. He was small in stature. He was so refined and delicate. His features, his nose, his eyes, his hands, every one of his features was so delicate, so refined, and so perfect that you could realize that the power when he spoke was not of the man, Shoghi Effendi, but was the power of the Spirit coming through him. He was a channel that God used. He was not just a man sitting there. I used to sit and marvel, the Guardian, so refined, so delicate, so beautiful, and yet the power with which he spoke! And when he would speak about the power of the Cause of God the building was shaking, the whole thing was shaking. It was a tremendous experience to see how God could use a chosen instrument to speak through, and to work through, and to disseminate His Will and His Power throughout the world.

Shoghi Effendi was about the size or smaller than ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. You’ve all seen pictures of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi was smaller than ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He looked quite a bit like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and he walked like the Master; he had the same stance as the Master. One time I was walking along the top of the Shrine of the Báb, (we were building the Shrine) and I looked down, and the Guardian was coming into the garden and the sun was shining on him, and as I looked down, I said, “Good gracious, there is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” And then I looked down again, of course, it was the Guardian. But if he had had a white beard on him, I would have sworn it was the Master, because it was the same walk, the same stance, the same look.

He had the same features in his face, generally, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, which means he had quite a few of the same features as Bahá’u’lláh. When you see the pictures of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, you’ll see some of those features. The construction of the eyes was like the Báb. You know that he was a descendant of both Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb.

And his hands, most delicate and graceful hands, the fact of the matter is that when he was a child, the Greatest Holy Leaf, who was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sister, and who we look upon as the most holy and most perfect woman in the Bahá’í world, the Greatest Holy Leaf used to hold him in her lap and hold his hands and she’d say, these are the hands of Bahá’u’lláh. The Guardian was always a very serious, and yet a very delightful character. Even when he was small, he showed his signs of power and greatness. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá used to insist that everyone called him Shoghi Effendi. They were never allowed to call him Shoghi, like you do with children, using just his first name, but He insisted that they use his title of Effendi, Shoghi Effendi. Even his father and mother had to call him Shoghi Effendi. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá used to call him Shoghi Effendi. And always, they used to say, he would pat him on the head and call him his little House of Justice, to show that even from childhood, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had indicated that he would be the successor to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and would become the head of the Faith.

In the Days of the Guardian – a Talk by Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1958

In his recollections of those early years one of the Bahá’ís has written that one day Shoghi Effendi entered the Master's room, took up His pen and tried to write. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá drew him to His side, tapped him gently on the shoulder and said "Now is not the time to write, now is the time to play, you will write a lot in the future." Nevertheless the desire of the child to learn led to the formation of classes in the Master's household for the children, taught by an old Persian believer. I know that at one time in his childhood, most likely while he was still living in 'Akká, Shoghi Effendi and other grandchildren were taught by an Italian, who acted as governess or teacher; a grey-haired elderly lady, she came to call shortly after I was married. 

Rúhíyyih Khánum, 'The Priceless Pearl'

Shoghi Effendi was of an infinitely kind and loving nature.  Before meeting him, many Bahá’ís, sensitive to his station in the Cause, were fearful.  But they were immediately put at ease by his warmth and affection, and shortly, as Leroy noted, one simply loved him and wanted to be near him.  It was a moving experience, Leroy recalled, to see the love and tenderness expressed by the Guardian for others.  He was constantly encouraging and complimenting people for what they did, were it the gardeners working on the properties, or the pilgrims, trying to make them happy as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wished them to be.

Anita Ioas Chapman, Leroy Ioas, Hand of the Cause of God, p. 288

Shoghi Effendi completely dedicated his whole life to the Cause of God. He had no other thought. He ate, he slept, he was awake, he worked, every minute, day and night, was for the Cause of God. He thought of nothing else. Nothing else was of any interest to him. He didn’t talk about anything else. He talked about the conditions of the Plan. He talked about the services of the friends. And he was like a barometer. When any word came from any part of the world about successes of the believers in the teaching work they did, he was joyous and he was happy. But when word came of difficulties within the Faith, of persecutions of the some of the Bahá’ís, of difficulties that the pioneers were meeting with, the suffering of the believers, he became very sad. His heart was like a mirror, and it seemed reflect all parts of the world. And wherever he turned his heart, he saw what was there. He saw pictured before him the exact conditions of the believers themselves.

In the Days of the Guardian – a Talk by Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1958

Shoghi Effendi was a small, sensitive, intensely active and mischievous child. He was not very strong in his early years and his mother often had cause to worry over his health. However, he grew up to have an iron constitution, which, coupled with the phenomenal force of his nature and will-power, enabled him in later years to overcome every obstacle in his path. The first photographs we have of him show a peaky little face, immense eyes and a firm, beautifully shaped chin which in his childhood gave a slightly elongated and heart-shaped appearance to his face. His eyes were of that deceptive hazel colour that sometimes led people who did not have the opportunity to look into them as often as I did to think they were brown or blue. The truth is they were a clear hazel which sometimes changed to a warm and luminous grey. I have never seen such an expressive face and eyes as those of the Guardian; every shade of feeling and thought was mirrored in his visage as light and shadow are reflected on water.

Rúhíyyih Rabbani, The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, p. 3-4