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Hands of the Cause of God
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Individuals appointed first by Bahá'u'lláh, and later by Shoghi Effendi, who were charged with the specific duties of protecting and propagating the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh appointed four individuals to this position: Mírzá ‘Alí-Muḥammad (Ibn-i-Aṣdaq), Ḥají Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar-i-S̲h̲ahmírzádí (Ḥají Akhúnd), Mírzá Muḥammad-Taqí (Ibn-i-Abhar) and Mírzá Ḥasan-i-Adíb (Adíb). ‘Abdu'l-Bahá did not appoint any living Hands of the Cause, but in Memorials of the Faithful named four people as having been Hands of the Cause: Aqá Muḥammad-i-Qá'iní (Nabíl-i-Akbar), Mírzá ‘Alí-Muḥammad-i-Varqá, S̲h̲ayk̲h̲ Muḥammad Riḍáy-i-Yazdí and Mullá Ṣadiq-i-Muqaddas (Ismu'lláhu'l-Aṣdaq).
In His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu'l-Bahá developed the institution of the Hands of the Cause: ‘The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command . . . The obligations of the Hands of the Cause are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words. This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God.'3
One of the responsibilities of the Hands of the Cause is to protect the Faith from those wishing to harm it and to expel those who attack it: ‘. . . the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahá and in no wise accept any excuse from him.'4
Further, the Hands of the Cause must assent to the choice of a successor to the guardian. They ‘must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the guardian of the Cause of God. The election of these nine must be carried either unanimously or by majority from the company of the Hands of the Cause and these, whether unanimously or by a majority vote, must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor.'5
Several people were posthumously appointed Hands of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi, among them Martha Root, John E. Esslemont and Louis Gregory. In December 1951 he appointed the first contingent of living Hands of the Cause, twelve in number. A second contingent of seven Hands was appointed in February 1952. Five Hands were appointed singly between March 1952 and March 1957, and a final contingent of eight Hands was appointed in October 1957.
In the letter appointing this final contingent, Shoghi Effendi referred to the Hands of the Cause as the ‘Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth'.6 It was this phrase which enabled the Hands of the Cause legally to take charge of the Bahá'í properties in the Holy Land on the unexpected death of Shoghi Effendi in November 1957.
In the period between the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 and the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963, the Hands of the Cause directed the affairs of the Faith, enabled the Bahá'ís to complete the Ten Year Crusade and called for the election of the House of Justice, for which they decreed themselves ineligible. This period is known as the Interregnum of the Hands of the Cause.
In November 1964 the Universal House of Justice made the following announcement: ‘There is no way to appoint, or to legislate to make it possible to appoint, Hands of the Cause of God.'7 The functions of the institution of the Hands of the Cause were extended into the future by the creation in 1968 of the Continental Boards of Counsellors.
The Universal House of Justice stated in 1964 that ‘the exalted rank and specific functions of the Hands of the Cause of God make it inappropriate for them to be elected or appointed to administrative institutions, or to be elected as delegates to national conventions.' All of the Hands are, however, members of the International Teaching Centre based in the Holy Land.
[BD 95]
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Hands of the Cause of God
Wikipedia - Hands of the Cause of God ] 
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