By RUHI MOHSEN AFNAN (Grandson of Abdul Baha)
Written in 1970
Covenant breaking is to renege on an agreement. It is the breach of a promise made between the Sun of Reality and his followers. It specifies that after the setting of that Sun people should turn to the moon of the guardianship to obtain radiance from him. This ‘the ladies of the household’ did at the most sensitive period in the history of the Cause, neither asking for, nor expecting any remuneration from anybody. However, they certainly did not expect insults and reproach. Baha’u’llah, in the prayer to be chanted at the shrine of the Bab asks for God’s blessings upon the members of the families of both the Bab and Baha’u’llah and safety and security from the attack of enemies and the unjust, as long as godly characteristics and God’s good names are seen in them. Almost 50 years have passed, says Ruhi Afnan, writing in 1970, since the passing of the Master and three of his daughters have died. They were all human and capable of making mistakes. But none of them were guilty of covenant breaking. All of them asked for forgiveness and hoped for His mercy, but they never broke the Covenant. During periods of great sensitivity and danger their faith and belief in the Sun of Reality and their loyalty to the will of Abdul Baha and the Guardianship of Shoghi Effendi was clear and evident. They endured great hardship, they suffered insults and degradation, they were outcasts, lonely and alone, but unfaithful to the will of the Master, Abdul Baha, their father, they were not. Their constant hope was that godly characteristics and God’s good names should ever be present in their speech and their actions and make them worthy of God’s mercy.
In brief, essentially my mother, Touba Khanum, ill and mostly bed ridden since the passing of Abdul Baha, was ‘expelled’ because she would not ‘shun’ me when I was cast out.
Rouha Khanum, essentially was ‘expelled’ because she was keen that the Master’s wishes regarding Shoghi Effendi’s marriage to her daughter Maryam, be carried out, while Shoghi Effendi preferred Ruhiyyih Khanum.
Zia Khanum, essentially was ‘expelled’ because she was keen to find out why Ruhiyyih Khanum could not have children and arrived at the truth.
Monawar Khanum was ‘expelled’ because she received her elder sister too warmly when she returned to see Shoghi Effendi.
Had they committed a sin it was related to unquestioning obedience and not to lack of faith in the Sun of Reality and the Guardian. Their sin was that when Shoghi Effendi cast me out he considered it their duty to obey him with no whys and wherefores asked – and to distance themselves from me. However, obedience of the ‘mirrors’ that speak of the Sun of Reality is a duty when that mirror is inspired by that spiritual source and practices the principles therein enshrined. Obedience of ordinary, personal or worldly orders that caused my expulsion are outside that orbit. Here the measure of one’s faith is belief in the Sun of Reality and not in matters that don’t even have any moral aspects.
As was seen, Baha’u’llah in the opening lines of the Aqdas stated that:
‘The first duty prescribed by God for his servants is the recognition of Him who is the Dayspring of His revelation and the fountain of His laws and who represents the Godhead in both the Kingdom of his Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieves this duty has attained unto all good, and whoso is deprived thereof has gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoves everyone who reaches this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him who is the Desire of the world.’
But, as has been mentioned, Ruhiyyih Khanum gave preference to the obedience of the ‘mirrors that spoke of Him’. She says ‘Faith and obedience are the most important factors in one’s relation to God, His Manifestation, to the Head of the Faith. One must believe even if one does not see, and even if one does not believe, one must obey.’ Obedience of the ‘mirrors that speak of Him’ is conditional upon their words conforming with the words of the Sun of Reality. Otherwise it would be wrong. And whoever places obedience before belief is wrong and that obedience is no longer mandatory. Following that line is to follow sin and sinners. It is not following the Sun of Reality, the source of all good and the means of salvation. Negation does not result in being and obscurity does not bring about manifestation.
God expresses his wishes, makes clear that which is best for humankind and shows them the means of salvation. But at the same time people are free to choose to follow that route, benefit from and enjoy its outcome, or to turn away and bear the consequences. This does not require blind obedience. Rather, it needs complete knowledge, freedom of choice and faith in the words of God. Blind obedience turns a human being into an instrument devoid of conscience or will, depriving his speech and actions of any moral content. Here action becomes worthless. In this world knowledge, insight and freedom of choice are the supreme sources of justice. Without them God’s will could not be realised. What humanity needs is the radiance of the Sun of Reality, not obedience of the Guardians. Obedience should apply to the divine characteristics and qualities that are seen in them. Only divine radiance should shine in their hearts to make them worthy of leadership. Obscurity and obedience produces nothing but darkness.