It has particular implications not only for the disposition of endowments but also for the succession of authority following the passing of Bahá'u'lláh and of his son `Abdu'l-Bahá.
Bahá'í literature grant a special station to the members of the Aghṣán, indicating that Bahá'ís should treat them with particular respect and courtesy, but do not grant them any administrative or spiritual authority within the Bahá'í Faith outside of those selected as successors to Bahá'u'lláh.
In his Will, `Abdul-Bahá established the institution of the Guardianship, which is a hereditary leadership position. He appointed Shoghi Effendi as the first Guardian, and said that the Guardian should appoint his successor, either from his first-born son, or if he were found lacking, from among the male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh. The appointment would be ratified by the Hands of the Cause. He writes:
- 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.
- 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).
- (`Abdul-Bahá, The Will and Testament of `Abdul-Bahá, p. 12)
List of AghsánEdit
- `Abdu'l-Bahá – al-Ghuṣn al-Aʻẓam (Arabic: الغصن الأعظم "The Most Great Branch")
- Badi'u'lláh – a son of Bahá'u'lláh and his second wife Fatimih
- Díyá'u'lláh – a son of Bahá'u'lláh and his second wife Fatimih
- Husayn Ali
- Mírzá Mihdí – al-Ghuṣn al-Aṭhar, (Arabic: الغصن الأطهر "The Purest Branch")
- Mírzá Muhammad `Alí – al-Ghuṣn al-Akbar, (Arabic: الغصن الأکبر "The Greater Branch")
- Munib Shahid – former Chairman of Hematology and Oncology at the Faculty of Medicine of the American University of Beirut
- Covenant-breaker#Ruhi Afnan
- Shoghi Effendi – Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith
- Soheil Afnan
- Shua Ullah Behai – the eldest grandson of Bahá'u'lláh and the eldest son of Mírzá Muhammad `Alí
- "Genealogy of Shoghi Effendi, by Grover Gonzales". bahai.library.org. Retrieved 2008-04-09.