God Passes By – written by Shoghi Effendi

• God Passes By , the most brilliant and wondrous tale of a century that has ever been told, is truly a "Mother" of future histories, a book wherein every word counts, every sentence burgeons with thought, every thought leads the way to a field of its own. Packed with salient facts it has the range and precision of snowflake crystals, each design perfect in itself, each theme brilliant in outline, coordinated, balanced, self-contained, a matrix for those who follow on and study, evaluate and elaborate the Message and Order of Bahá'u'lláh. It was one of the most concentrated and stupendous achievements of Shoghi Effendi's life, the only true book we have from his pen - because all his other communications were, no doubt due to his profound modesty and humility, in the nature of letters addressed to a specific community or section of the Bahá'í world. ((Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 222-23)

• … God Passes By is a flaming narrative. The character and qualities of the innumerable personages in it spring from the personages themselves and not from the author's fantasy. Like a precious and veritable gift from God, Shoghi Effendi's writing is an infinite, passionate cry from his innermost noble soul: the need to relate with great force and vehemence, without pause or rest, the greatest epic of the millennium. One can well sense that the underlying element of urgency is motivated by the inner impelling need to proclaim it, without delay, to all mankind. (Ugo Giachery, Shoghi Effendi - Recollections, p. 37)

• In 1944, on the occasion of the celebration of the Centenary of the Declaration of the beloved Báb, Bahá’í literature was crowned with two masterpieces from the Guardian, two brilliant stars that shall shine eternally in the firmament of the historical and literary works of the Cause. The first, which took the title of God Passes By, is addressed to the friends in America; and the second, addressed to the friends in the East, is titled “The Tablet of Naw-Rúz 101.” Both deal with the touching history of the Cause in the course of the century, a history of persecution and oppression, a history of suffering and victory, a history of joy and love, a history of the growth of the Cause of God, of its rise and of its descent into a wave-tossed sea of happenings, of its evolution from an embryonic state to its triumphant march towards its culminating point determining the destiny of man.

• In these two works, literary aptitude of the Guardian and his historical knowledge are fully manifested. His perspective on the destiny of the Cause, his clear vision and analytical power, enlighten us on the development of the divine Revelation and its long path to its apogee: the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth….

The book, God Passes By, … is a book of 463 pages apportioned to four historical periods, comprising the ministry of the Báb in five chapters, the ministry of Bahá’u’lláh in eight chapters, the ministry of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ likewise in eight chapters, and finally the dawn of the Formative Age of the Faith in four chapters, a section which ends in a retrospective overview of the past and a prospective vision of the future of the Cause. (Dr. Ali Muhammad Varqa, online Baha’i Studies document: An Introduction to the Law-i-Qarn)

• In an age when people play football with words, kicking them right and left indiscriminately with no respect for either their meaning or correct usage, the style of Shoghi Effendi stands out in dazzling beauty. His joy in words was one of his strongest personal characteristics, whether he wrote in English - the language he had given his heart to - or in the mixture of Persian and Arabic he used in his general letters to the East. Although he was so simple in his personal tastes he had an innate love of richness which is manifest in the way he arranged and decorated various Bahá'í Holy Places, in the style of the Shrine of the Báb, in his preferences in architecture, and in his choice and combination of words. Of him it could be said, in the words of another great writer, Macaulay, that "he wrote in language...precise and luminous." Unlike so many people Shoghi Effendi wrote what he meant and meant exactly what he wrote. It is impossible to eliminate any word from one of his sentences without sacrificing part of the meaning, so concise, so pithy in his style. A book like God Passes By is a veritable essence of essences; from this single hundred-year history, fifty books could easily be written and none of them would superficial or lacking in material, so rich is the source provided by the Guardian, so condensed his treatment of it. (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 195)

• "All day Shoghi Effendi types his manuscript [God Passes By ] and I read the copy before mailing it to Horace [Horace Holley, Secretary of the American National Assembly] to be sure the last mistakes are ironed out, and he and I spend hours reading the original and correcting the pages and putting in the interminable accents! (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 163)

• The method of Shoghi Effendi in writing God Passes By was to sit down for a year and read every book of the Bahá'í Writings in Persian and English, and every book written about the Faith by Bahá'ís, whether in manuscript form or published, and everything written by non-Bahá'ís that contained significant references to it. I think, in all, this must have covered the equivalent of at least two hundred books. As he read he made notes and compiled and marshalled his facts. Anyone who has ever tackled a work of an historical nature knows how much research is involved, how often one has to decided, in the light of relevant material, between this date given in one place and that date given in another, how back-breaking the whole work is. How much more so then was such a work for the Guardian who had, at the same time, to prepare for the forthcoming Centenary of the Faith and make decisions regarding the design of the superstructure of the Báb's Shrine. When all the ingredients of his book had been assembled Shoghi Effendi commenced weaving them into the fabric of his picture of the significance of the first century of the Bahá'í Dispensation. It was not his purpose, he said, to write a detailed history of those hundred years, but rather to review the salient features of the birth and rise of the Faith, the establishment of its administrative institutions, and the series of crises which had propelled it forward in a mysterious manner, through the release of the Divine power within it, from victory to victory. He revealed to us the panorama of events which, he wrote, "the revolution of a hundred years...has unrolled before our eyes" and lifted the curtain on the opening acts of what he asserted was one "indivisible, stupendous and sublime drama, whose mystery no intellect can fathom, whose climax no eye can even dimly perceive, whose conclusion no mind can adequately foreshadow."

How many hundreds of hours Shoghi Effendi spent on reading his sources and compiling his notes, how many days and months in painstakingly writing out in long hand - and often rewriting - the majestic procession of his chapters, how many more wearisome days he sat at his small portable typewriter, hammering away with a few fingers, sometimes ten hours on end, as he typed the final copy of his work! And how many more hours we spent late into the night, when the daily typing was over, seated side by side at his bog table in his bedroom, each with three copies of the typescript before us, proof-reading, making corrections, putting in by hand the thousands of accents on transliterated words which Shoghi Effendi would read aloud, until his eyes were bloodshot and blurred, his back and arms stiff with exhaustion, as we worked on to finish the entire chapter or part of a chapter he had typed that day. It had to be done. There was no possibility of working at a slower pace. he was racing against time to present the Bahá'ís of the West with this inimitable gift on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the inception of their Faith. In spite of the fact that he mailed off to America the corrected manuscript in installments, conditions in the United States delayed the publication and the book was not off the press until the middle of November 1944.

It was not enough to say "See what the man has done." One must ask how and under what circumstances he did it. 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote the Tablets of the Divine Plan when He was old, worn out and in great danger at the end of World War I. Shoghi Effendi, already crushed and overburdened from the weight of twenty years of Guardianship, when the tides of World War II threatened to sweep over the Holy Land and engulf him and the World Centre of the Faith in one catastrophic flow, during a period when his home was convulsed by the repercussions of Covenant-breaking now affecting his family, set himself the task of appraising for all time the significance of the events of the first century of the Bahá'í Era. On rare occasions it was my misfortune during these years to see him weep as if his heart would break - so great was his agony, so overwhelming the pressures that bore down upon him! (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 222-23)

• The Guardian sent this book to Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel who during his visit had shown interest in reading about the history of the Faith.