The evolution of the Bahá’í community from its obscure and persecuted origins to world encirclement has been rapid. At the time of Bahá’u’lláh’s death in 1892, there were followers in fifteen countries. By late 1921 when Shoghi Effendi’s assumption of the Guardianship was decreed in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’ís were resident in thirty-five countries. A period of consolidation followed, in which Shoghi Effendi sought the administrative and doctrinal maturation of Bahá’í communities emerging in diverse sociopolitical and religious contexts. This article considers the essential features of the last significant phase of Shoghi Effendi’s ministry, the decade of the World Crusade, 1953–1963. In doing so, it seeks to raise questions concerning the contemporary practice of historical Bahá’í scholarship.
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Copyright © 1995 Graham Hassall