Shoghi Effendi in Oxford and Earlier

{amazon id='0853984239'}

Book Review: Riaz Khadem, Shoghi Effendi in Oxford, George Ronald, Oxford, 1999

I just finished "Shoghi Effendi in Oxford," an unassuming study of the early years of the Guardian by Riaz Khadem, son of the Hand of the Cause Dhikru’llah Khadem. Riaz Khadem, supported financially by his father, had the bounty in the 1960's of attending the same college, Balliol, that the Guardian had lived and studied in some forty years before. This placed him in a unique position to do the research that resulted in this book. For instance, he wrote the surviving members of Shoghi Effendi's classes, and a surprisingly large number responded, considering how brief was his time at Balliol.

One classmate replied who had known Shoghi Effendi in late 1921, at the end of his stay there, the time when he discovered Gibbon's Decline and Fall. He read it wherever he went, even going for walks about campus while reading,

"It was quite a thing to watch, and I always thought he would trip over something. However, dignity and a look of profound inspiration always seemed to be preserved." (Riaz Khadem, Shoghi Effendi in Oxford, p. 129)

Of course we cannot be certain that it was Decline and Fall that the Guardian was holding. It may have been the KJV, which he also discovered around this time. "In addition to Gibbon's work, Shoghi Effendi loved the style of English in the King James version of the Bible, which he read while he was at Balliol." Some of the classmates had the impression that Shoghi Effendi had just discovered the Bible itself. Khadem points out that this was not the case, since he had already taken several courses on the Bible as an undergraduate. It was the English style of the King James translation that was a new discovery. Here is how Khadem describes the long term effects of his discovery of the Decline and Fall,

Full story...