There is so much confusion and misunderstanding about the Guardianship in the Bahai world today. First of all, many Bahais have no concept or understanding of the Guardianship as one of the core teachings of the Cause of God. That is, in this Day of God it is necessary for the Cause to have an authorized interpreter and center, to whom all must turn, in order to maintain the unity of the Cause, and to carry the Faith effectively into the future.
The sans-Guardian Bahais, of course, have perverted this teaching to mean that all must turn to their headless so-called Universal House of Justice. I believe the simple analogy of a relay race will demonstrate how these Bahais, and others, have completely strayed from the true path.
If you think of divine guidance as the Light emanating from Baha'u'llah and the line of successors as the torch-bearers of that Light, then it is easy to understand the Bahai covenant.
The first torch-bearer was Abdu'l-Baha, the Center of the Covenant. Once the torch was in His possession, the authority in the Faith belonged to Him. It was His decision entirely about the person to whom He would pass the authority after His passing. Abdu'l-Baha's Will and Testament created the Guardianship for this purpose, and He named Shoghi Effendi, His grandson, as the first Guardian. The Guardian was the Center of the Cause, the authorized interpreter, and the sacred head of the Universal House of Justice in that future time when it would be created by the Guardian.
Now Shoghi Effendi carried the torch that illumined the world with Baha'u'llah, the Light. He faithfully carried out his ministry to erect the Institutions of the Faith, as delineated in the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha. During his ministry, the Faith spread far and wide, with numerous and far-flung local and national Assemblies proliferating throughout the world, the appointment of Hands of the Cause, and the establishment in its embryonic state of the International Baha'i Council, the embryonic Universal House of Justice. Charles Mason Remey was appointed as the president of the embryonic Institution.
Upon Shoghi Effendi's untimely death, the Bahai world became confused. The Light of the torch carried by Shoghi Effendi was so bright that they could not conceive of anyone else worthy to carry the Light into the future. Had they understood more clearly the vital and central import of the Guardianship, they would not have lost faith that this Light remained on this earth even though Shoghi Effendi had passed on. Had they turned to the now newborn International Bahai Council, they would have eventually seen that the President of the IBC was holding the torch that he had received from Shoghi Effendi and that the Light continued to shine in this world.
Making the same mistake that the followers of past religions continually have made, they failed to distinguish between the Light and the torch-bearer, so that they were unable to recognize the new torch-bearer. It was a relay race and they were still looking to the runner who no longer carried the torch, instead of following the torch in the hands of the next runner. If one follows the relay race metaphor to its logical conclusion, it is evident that the Custodian Hands had no authority whatsoever. By the nonsensical argument that they were the "chief stewards" of the Cause, the Hands created the Custodians and claimed that this illicit body was now the bearer of the Light. The only problem was that the mere designation of the Hands as "chief stewards" was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the same as passing the authority of the Covenant to the Hands. To the contrary, it was a strong indication that the Hands were to remain sub-servient to the Guardian after the passing of the torch. The Custodians imagined, in their arrogance, that they somehow had the torch and that they had faithfully passed this torch to the headless UHJ of their own creation. Of course, their torch was not lit with the Light of Baha'u'llah, so the torch they passed to their bogus UHJ was emitting nothing but darkness.
Meanwhile, Mason Remey ran with the torch. However, he was already an elderly man and it was difficult for him to run the relay race for very long. After a long and frustrating battle with the Hands of the Cause that found him expelled from the former Bahai organization and having been rejected by the vast majority of Bahais, Mason Remey's physical health was deteriorating and he was not able to function as the Guardian for more than a few years. Recognizing his failing health and being divinely guided by the Light that he faithfully carried, Mason Remey appointed Joel B. Marangella as the President of the Second International Bahai Council, and he forcefully insisted that the IBC be activated with Marangella as its President in 1965. This effectively transferred the torch to Joel B. Marangella even though Remey was still alive. All of Remey's followers continued to follow the former torch-bearer, Mason Remey, even though the torch was no longer in his hands. Even Marangella was in denial about this, even though the significance of the activation of the IBC was known and understood by him. He rationalized it away and continued to follow the former torch-bearer for several years.
Not until it became clear to many of his followers that Remey was no longer functioning as the Guardian (that is, his pronouncements were clearly erroneous and could not possibly be the product of a divinely guided man) did it occur to them that perhaps they may have missed something. By this time, towards the end of 1969, Joel B. Marangella announced that he was, in fact, the Guardian and had been so since the activation of the IBC. Some of Remey's followers recognized that Marangella now held the torch of divine Light and came over to his Orthodox Bahai Faith. Many of Remey's followers could not understand how Marangella could possibly carry the torch while Remey was still alive, no matter how obvious it was to them that Mason no longer carried the Light. Those believers remained in Remey's Bahai Faith under the Hereditary Guardianship that he had re-named in 1966 as the "Abha World Faith." Again, the believers had mistaken the torch-bearer for the Light.
The torch carrying the Light of Baha'u'llah is now in the possession of Joel B. Marangella and will so remain until such time as he passes the torch to his chosen successor (a Persian believer, Hand of the Cause Nosrat'u'llah Bahremand, whose father had recognized Mason Remey and served in the NSA under the Hereditary Guardianship in Iran).
The Baha'is of the world will not be united, and will be unable to carry out their mission of delivering Baha'u'llah's Light to the world, until such time as they come under the guidance of the torch-bearer of His Light, the living Guardian of the Cause of God. This is nothing but the truth.