After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consultation which included consideration of the view of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.
(Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 11)
As the Universal House of Justice has already announced, it cannot legislate to make possible the appointment of a successor to Shoghi Effendi, nor can it legislate to make possible the appointment of any more Hands of the Cause, but it must do everything within its power to ensure the performance of all those functions which it shares with these two mighty Institutions.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 319)
Let it not be imagined that the House of Justice will take any decision according to its own concepts and opinions. God forbid! The Supreme House of Justice will take decisions and establish laws through the inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, because it is in the safekeeping and under the shelter and protection of the Ancient Beauty, and obedience to its decisions is a bounden and essential duty and an absolute obligation, and there is no escape for anyone.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 85)
O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches), the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abhá Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi … He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 10)
O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. He that is appointed must manifest in himself detachment from all worldly things, must be the essence of purity, must show in himself the fear of God, knowledge, wisdom and learning. Thus, should the first-born of the Guardian of the Cause of God not manifest in himself the truth of the words:—“The child is the secret essence of its sire,” that is, should he not inherit of the spiritual within him (the Guardian of the Cause of God) and his glorious lineage not be matched with a goodly character, then must he, (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch to succeed him.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 12)
The Hands of the Cause of God 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 of God 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. This assent must be given in such wise as the assenting and dissenting voices may not be distinguished (i.e., secret ballot).
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 12)
The passing of Shoghi Effendi and the break of the expected continuation of the line of Guardians raised many questions among the believers. Detailed letters addressing many of these questions can be found in Wellspring of Guidance, pages 44-56 and 81-91 and Messages of the Universal House of Justice, pages 37-43.
(NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)
There being no successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, the Universal House of Justice is the Head of the Faith and its supreme institution, to which all must turn, and on it rests the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the unity and progress of the Cause of God.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 342)
This potential richness of meaning is underlined by the provision whereby future Guardians, while not abrogating the “interpretations of former Guardians,” may “elaborate and elucidate former interpretations,” as set out in the extract from a letter dated 19 February 1947 which was written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: “… regarding future Guardians: they cannot “abrogate” the interpretations of former Guardians, as this would imply not only lack of guidance but mistakes in making them; however they can elaborate and elucidate former interpretations, and can certainly abrogate some former ruling laid down as a temporary necessity by a former Guardian.”
(Universal House of Justice, Interpretations of Sacred Writings, 9 March 1987)