I want to give you just one day in the Guardian’s life so you can appreciate a little bit more what it is to be the head of a faith like the Bahá’í Faith. Shoghi Effendi usually arose in the morning about 5:30. And then he had his period of prayer and devotions and meditation. After that he would receive, or he still had the pile of mail from yesterday or the day before, piles of mail. And he would start to go through this mail from all over the world. And he would indicate on each letter what should be done with it. Well, the thing that interested me very much, because I come from a business background, and had a large office and had lots of mail (I never opened my own mail; it was always handled by someone else), but Shoghi Effendi opened every letter that was addressed to him. Anyone that wrote any letter that wrote a letter that was addressed to Shoghi Effendi, that was opened by the Guardian himself. And he took out the letter and read it, and then he indicated and instructed what was to be done with it. Sometimes he gave it to Rúhíyyih Khanum to respond to. Sometimes he gave it to me. Other times he gave it to Dr. Hakkim if it were to the Oriental countries and had to be answered in Persian. Every piece of mail that was ever addressed to the Guardian of the Cause was received by him personally and was opened by him personally, so that everyone was assured that their messages to him throughout his own eyes, his own heart and his own mind.
Well, after going through this correspondence, for hours, and don’t think it was light – one evening he came over and said, “Today I received 700 pages of minutes and records from different parts of the world, and I had to read them all.” Now that came pretty nearly every day; not in that volume, but I just mention that volume just so that you have an idea what it was just to read the mail, let alone consider what was to be done about all of the questions that were asked, and to issue the instructions about what should be done all over the world.
And in the afternoon he went up into the Mount Carmel, and the Bahá’í gardens there, which he had built himself, and he met the Oriental pilgrims. He walked with them in the gardens. He talked with them. He had tea with them. He answered their questions. He talked about the Cause in all parts of the world, but particularly in the Orient; what should be done—this problem, that problem, the other problem. And then he would lead them into the shrine. And after a period of prayer and devotion there in which he chanted for them, they would return, and then he would come down and continue with his mail and his cables as they came in during the day, answer the cables. Then in the evening he would come in and have dinner with the pilgrims from the western part of the world, and with the members of the International Bahá’í Council. Then he would talk about the Cause with the people from the West. He talked with them in English, since Shoghi Effendi spoke a number of languages, English and Persian and Arabic very well, and he would talk about the Cause and the different conditions all throughout the world. Then he would talk about conditions in their own country. One of the most interesting that we experienced was, say, a pilgrim would come, let’s say, from Canada, and he would ask, “Well, how is the Cause developing in Canada? How is it progressing? How many centers do you have? How many spiritual assemblies do you have? And how many groups do you have?” “Well, Shoghi Effendi, I don’t know.” And he said, “Well, you don’t know, but I do know, and I‘ll tell you what it was.” And it didn’t matter what country it was, if it was Swaziland, or South Africa. He would tell you what the number of assemblies was, or the number of groups, or the number of Bahá’ís, or the condition of the Bahá’ís. Any part of the world, it made no difference. So he would talk to each and every one about their own country, about the conditions there, about the social conditions, about the problems under which they worked, and give them hope and encouragement and guidance and instructions.
And then he would take that occasion to talk over many of the problems with the International Council. Shoghi Effendi was not a person who had very many secrets. He allowed no one to speak of anything of the things that happened in the Holy Land, or, actually, any of the personal discussions that took place at the table with the pilgrims. But the business of the Cause around the Holy Land, he usually talked about it, he talked at that time, and gave his instructions. And it is very interesting, his instructions were always right.
So when I give you this as a picture of one day in Shoghi Effendi’s life. Remember, it wasn’t one day, and then he rested for a week. It wasn’t two days and then he rested. It was three days. It was four days. It was five days. It was six days. It was seven days. And it was that way week after week and week after week.
When he was in the Holy Land, there was no rest whatsoever for the Guardian. From early morning, five-thirty in the morning, until eleven or eleven-thirty at night. Burdened, problems all over the world; people never thought to, until the last few years, to send him the encouraging word of what had been done, the great victories that had been won. But if anyone had any trouble, he would cable the Guardian for guidance, and he had to solve the problems of the world in that way. So he was continuously under the pressure of the friends at all times.
(In the Days of the Guardian – a Talk by Hand of the Cause of God Leroy Ioas in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1958)