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The Child of the Covenant

The Child of the Covenant
A Study Guide to the
Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

by Adib Taherzadeh

George Ronald
Oxford

 iv 

George Ronald, Publisher
46 High Street, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 2DN

Adib Taherzadeh 2000
All Rights Reserved

A catalogue record for this book is available
from the British Library

ISBN 0-85398439-5

Typeset by Stonehaven Press LLP, Knoxville, Tennessee

 v 

Contents

A Note form the Publisher ..................................... vii
Preface ...................................................... viii
Introduction ................................................. 1

1. Prerequisites for the Study of
the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh ......................... 12
2. The Family of Bahá'u'lláh ................................ 16
3. Tests of Faith ........................................... 28
4. The Covenant, A Shield for the
Protection of the Faith ............................. 38
5. The Greatest of All Things ............................... 46
6. The Suffering of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh ................. 50
7. Bahá'u'lláh's Retirement to the
Mountains of Kurdistan .............................. 61
8. Bahá'u'lláh's Exiles ..................................... 67
9. Mirza Yahya .............................................. 91
10. The Breaker of the Covenant of the Báb ................... 105
11. Open Rebellion of Mirza Yahya ............................ 116
12. The Arch-Breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh .......... 130
13. Attacks on the Centre of the Covenant .................... 143
14. Confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh Bestow Victory .............. 156
15. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali Claims Partnership
with Bahá'u'lláh .................................... 168
16. Deviations of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali (1) .................... 172
17. Deviations of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali (2) .................... 178
18. Deviations of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali (3) .................... 185
19. Deviations of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali (4) .................... 193
20. Deviations of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali (5) .................... 198
21. Decreeing the Death of 'Abdu'l-Bahá ...................... 207
22. Covenant-Breakers Petition Government
against 'Abdu'l-Bahá ................................ 212
23. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Greatness Transcends His Suffering ........ 223
24. Dissociation with Covenant-Breakers ...................... 235
25. Teaching the Cause of God ................................ 246
26. We have Chosen 'the Greater' after 'the Most Great' ...... 256
27. The Appointment of Shoghi Effendi
as the Guardian of the Cause ........................ 265

 vi 
28. The Guardian and the Universal House of Justice
under the Protection of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh ..... 276
29. Covenant-Breakers' Attacks on Shoghi Effendi ............. 289
30. Rebellion of Shoghi Effendi's Relatives .................. 302
31. Turning to Shoghi Effendi ............................... 311
32. Hands of the Cause of God ................................ 322
33. The Hands of the Cause during the
Ministry of the Guardian ............................ 329
34. The Hands in the Service of the Guardian ................. 339
35. Successor to Shoghi Effendi .............................. 347
36. Shoghi Effendi's Statements
about Future Guardians .............................. 354
37. The Chief Stewards, the Custodians ....................... 364
38. The Universal House of Justice ........................... 374
39. Huququ'lláh, Obedience to Government,
Supreme Tribunal .................................... 392
40. Steadfastness in the Covenant ............................ 402

Appendix 1: The Administrative Order,
by Shoghi Effendi .................................. 408
Appendix 2: The Constitution of the
Universal House of Justice .......................... 413
Appendix 3: Guide to Paragraphs
in the Will and Testament ........................... 426
Bibliography .................................................. 431
References .................................................... 434
Index ......................................................... 445

 vii 
A Note from the Publisher
The numbers identifying passages of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá refer to paragraphs rather than pages. Thus a passage identified as 4-W refers to paragraph four of the Will and Testament. Numbering begins with the paragraph 'All-Praise to Him...' and continues throughout the book to the final paragraph, number 56. The passage in parentheses following paragraph 29 and beginning This written paper...' is unnumbered, as are the headings at the start of each section.

[NOTE: The "References" listed the first endnote as appearing in this "...Note from the Publisher; however, there is no endnote noted in the text. The note referenced is as follows: (1 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 144.)]

 viii 

Preface

The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá constitutes a fundamental document of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. It is described by Shoghi Effendi as 'the Child of the Covenant'[2] and 'the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas'.[3] The necessity of a deeper study of this momentous document becomes obvious when we note that Shoghi Effendi has stipulated that one of the qualifications of a true believer is 'loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved's sacred Will'.[4]
[2 Ibid. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 144.)]
[3 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 328.]
[4 Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 90.]

With these statements in mind, the author of this book, having previously published The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, decided to prepare a detailed study guide for the Will and Testament itself. The organizational principle behind this guide is the relationship of various aspects of the Covenant and its verities to almost every subject mentioned by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament. In some instances a study is made of a full paragraph, in many cases of a sentence, and sometimes of certain words. Parts of this book are extracted from my earlier volume The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh and the reader will therefore find some materials familiar but will appreciate each subject in a different light in the context of the Will and Testament.

To deepen one's knowledge of the Faith is a personal obligation, achieved through the study of the holy writings in a spirit of humility and in a prayerful attitude. This is especially true for an in-depth study of the Will and Testament, of which steadfastness in the Covenant is the major component. Another factor to be borne in mind is the following warning uttered by Shoghi Effendi in a letter written on his behalf on 25 March 1930:

The contents of the Will of the Master are far too much for the
present generation to comprehend. It needs at least a century of
actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be
revealed...[5]
[5 From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 25 March 1930, quoted in Compilation, vol. 1, p. 366.]

It is the hope of the author of this book that this study guide, however inadequate in scope and depth, will stimulate the believers in their own study of this weighty document. To facilitate this, apart from the Table of Contents, a special table has been provided at the end of  ix  the book linking each paragraph of the Will and Testament to the corresponding chapters of the book.

Excerpts from the Bahá'í holy writings are either from translations by Shoghi Effendi or those authorized by the Universal House of Justice. Quotations from memoirs of Persian believers are all translated by the author. Persian and Arabic names are transliterated in accordance with the system adopted for books on the Bahá'í Faith.

I am deeply indebted to Dr Ann Boyles for her skilful editing of this book as well as her valuable suggestions to improve its syntax. My grateful thanks to Miss Alda Rendina for excellent typing of the manuscript from my scribbled and often illegible handwriting. My warmest thanks to Miss Breda Nagle for her meticulous checking of the manuscript. I also wish to extend my thanks to Miss Golara Khayltash, Miss Orkideh Mohajeri and Miss Mahsa Vossugh who have assisted in typing certain sections of the book. I am grateful to Wendi Momen for the skilful production of the index. I am also grateful to the Bahá'í Publishing Trust of the United States for permission to quote their booklet A Tribute to Shoghi Effendi by Amelia Collins and to the Bahá'í Publishing Trust of the United Kingdom for permission to quote passages from The Priceless Pearl by Ruhiyyih Rabbani. And last, but not least, my deepest appreciation is offered to my dear wife, Lesley, for her loving support and encouragement, which she has showered upon me throughout.

Adib Taherzadeh
Haifa, July 1999

 x 
 1 

Introduction

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh has given birth to the institution of the Covenant, which endows the human race with undreamt-of potentialities and provides the means for man's infinite progress and spiritual development in this Dispensation.

The terms of this Covenant were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh's pen in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, followed by His Will and Testament, known as the Kitáb-i-'Ahd. Through these writings Bahá'u'lláh established a mighty and irrefutable Covenant with His followers, a Covenant unprecedented in the annals of past religions. Never before has a Manifestation of God left behind an authoritative statement in which He has explicitly directed His people to turn, after Him, to a successor with the authority to promote the interests of His Faith, to interpret His words, to unravel the significance of His teachings and to expound the aim and purpose of His Revelation. Nor has a Manifestation previously devised a system of administration for governing the religious affairs of the community.

The Gospels are silent on the question of successorship. Only a vague and inconclusive statement, 'And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church'[6] has led a section of the followers of Christ to consider Peter as His successor. Such a claim, which is not upheld by a clear and unequivocal declaration in the Gospels, has caused bitter conflicts throughout the chequered history of Christianity. As a result, the religion founded by Christ has been divided into major sects which have multiplied through time. A similar situation arose in Islam. The story of Muhammad and the statement He is reported to have made concerning 'Ali, His cousin and son-in-law, at Ghadir-i-Khumm[*] may be regarded merely as an allusion to the Prophet's successor and not an explicit and unequivocal appointment. This episode, recounted by both the Shí'ah and Sunni sects of Islam, is interpreted differently by each. The story is as follows:
[* See also chapter 4]
[6 Matt. 16:18.]

Having completed the rites of pilgrimage to Mecca in the last year of His life, Muhammad, on His way back to Medina, ordered the large concourse of His followers to stop at a place known as Ghadir-i-Khumm. In that vast plain a number of saddles were stacked up,  2  making an improvised pulpit from which Muhammad delivered an important address to the congregation. There, He is reported to have taken 'Ali by the hand and said, 'Whoever considers Me as his Lord, then 'Ali is also his Lord.'

The Shí'ahs consider this verbal statement to be authoritative and on its basis believe 'Ali to be the lawful successor to the Prophet. The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh also confirm this belief. But the majority of the Muslims, the Sunnis, reject this view. Almost immediately after Muhammad's passing, His followers were divided into these two major sects which multiplied with the passage of time.

In contrast, one of the distinguishing features of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is that its Author has established a mighty Covenant with His followers concerning His successor, a Covenant whose characteristics are delineated by Bahá'u'lláh Himself in His 'Book of My Covenant', written in His own hand, unequivocal in the provisions it makes for the future of His Cause and acknowledged as an authentic document even by those who violated it. It is through this divinely-ordained instrument alone that the unity of the Bahá'í community has been preserved, the purity of its teachings safeguarded and the incorruptibility of its institutions guaranteed. This is 'the Day which shall not be followed by night'[7] is Bahá'u'lláh's own testimony in this regard.
[7 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245.]

Revelation of the Word of God by His Manifestation resembles the down-pouring of rain. In the same way that showers in the spring season vivify the world of nature, the Word of God is creative and a source of life to human souls. It penetrates people's hearts and imparts to them the spirit of faith. This process continues throughout the Revelation of the Prophet but the vernal showers of the divine springtime cease with His passing.

During the rainy season pastures become verdant and the rain also creates pools of reviving waters. Likewise, when the Manifestation of God is no longer with man, the words He has left behind become the source of spiritual life for His believers. For the Christians the Gospels and for the Muslims the Qur'án have acted as the spiritual reservoir of the water of life and the repository of God's teachings.

However, the water that flows to all the people, who have free access to it, soon loses its purity, being mixed with the mud and pollution of man-made ideas. In older Dispensations, the Manifestations of God left their words to posterity, with no clear provision made for further guidance. Their followers had to interpret their utterances as best they could. As a result, people disagreed in their understanding of the teachings. The followers interfered with the Word of God: they compromised the laws and precepts which were promulgated by the Prophet. Man-made dogmas and rituals were added, human  3  innovations and practices were introduced and the purity of the teachings was lost. Schisms occurred and sects and denominations were created within a religion. The unity and love which had existed among the followers during the lifetime of the founder of the religion disappeared after Him and in the course of time were replaced by enmity and contention.

In the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh the revelation of the Word of God has taken a different form altogether. Whereas in former times, with the exception of the Qur'án and the writings of the Báb, the words of the Prophets, in most cases, were recorded years after their revelation, the words of Bahá'u'lláh were taken down by His amanuensis the moment they were uttered. In some cases He Himself inscribed the verses revealed to Him. These writings, usually referred to as sacred text, or Tablets, are preserved and safeguarded and their authenticity is assured. The words of God in this Dispensation have been revealed with such profusion that -- as Bahá'u'lláh Himself testifies -- were His writings to be compiled, they would produce no less than one hundred volumes of holy scripture for mankind in this age. The analogy of the pool is no longer apt. More appropriate is the analogy of an ocean created when the words of God were sent down as copious rain.

The Qur'án consists of over six thousand verses and was revealed by Muhammad in 23 years. The speed of the revelation of the words of Bahá'u'lláh was about one thousand verses in an hour![8] For example, the Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude), one of the most important of Bahá'u'lláh's works, was revealed in the course of two days and two nights. During the do-year ministry of Bahá'u'lláh the world of humanity was immersed in an ocean of divine revelation whose latent energies are destined to revitalize the whole of humankind.
[8 For more information on the manner of revelation of Tablets, see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, pp. 23-4.]

A distinguishing feature of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is that, until the Dispensations of the past, the Word of God, sent down for the spiritualization and guidance of man, has not been simply handed over to him freely. To no one is given the right to interpret His words, to add even a dot or to take one away. Bahá'u'lláh has preserved the purity of the water of His Revelation against all pollution. On the one hand, He has revealed the Word of God for the benefit of all mankind; on the other, He has not allowed anyone to interfere with it. He resolved these two contrasting features through the institution of the Covenant, firmly established in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and His Will and Testament which was written in His own hand and designated as 'The Book of My Covenant'.

Instead of leaving His Revelation freely to man and allowing him to interpret His writings and act upon them as he likes, Bahá'u'lláh has created, in the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, a pure channel for the  4  interpretation of His Revelation and the guidance of the community. As the primary recipient of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, He is the authorized interpreter of the sacred words. His soul embraced every virtue and power which that Revelation conferred upon Him, virtues and powers which, through the operation of the institution of the Covenant, are to be vouchsafed progressively to humanity in the course of this Dispensation and which are the cause of the social, the intellectual and spiritual development of man on this planet until the advent of the next Manifestation of God.

'Abdu'l-Bahá acts in this analogy as a receptacle. Before a receptacle is filled, it must first be empty. The person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá had so surrendered His will to that of Bahá'u'lláh that He was utterly empty of self and had nothing to express or manifest in His being except self-effacement and absolute servitude. His whole being became the incarnation of every goodly virtue, a stainless mirror reflecting the light of glory cast upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh.

'Abdu'l-Bahá states that there are three stations in this vast creation: the station of God, which is unapproachable; the station of the Manifestations of God, which is equally inaccessible; and the station of man. The only station befitting man is that of servitude. To the extent that the individual believer abides on the plane of servitude, he will grow closer to God and become the recipient of His power, grace and bounties. As 'Abdu'l-Bahá reached the lowest depths of servitude, hence He became the embodiment of all divine qualities and attributes. Although He genuinely considered Himself a servant of the servants of Bahá'u'lláh, He manifested a majesty and grandeur which no human being could ever hope to possess. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was not a Manifestation of God but by virtue of His being the repository of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, 'the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized' in His person.[9] He knew the secrets of the hearts of men and His words were creative.
[9 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 134.]

The Most Great Infallibility mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh is inherent in the Manifestation of God and no one can share in it.[10] 'Abdu'l-Bahá did not possess this but Bahá'u'lláh conferred infallibility upon Him. The Manifestation of God is like a sun which generates its own heat and light; the moon does not possess its own light but receives it from the sun and reflects it towards the earth. Similarly, Bahá'u'lláh acts as the Sun of Truth and 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Moon of this Dispensation.
[10 See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, pp. 143, 149-53.]

'Abdu'l-Bahá should not be viewed as an ordinary human being who persevered in His efforts until He emptied Himself of selfish desire and consequently was appointed by Bahá'u'lláh as His successor Rather, He should be seen as having been created by God for the  5  purpose of becoming the recipient of God's Revelation in this age. We shall never know His real station because He was 'the Mystery of God', a title conferred upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh. He was the priceless gift of Bahá'u'lláh to mankind. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has extolled the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in laudatory terms. To cite an example, in the Suriy-i-Ghusn Bahá'u'lláh testifies to this truth:

was in His early teens in Baghdad, Bahá'u'lláh designated Him 'the Master'. Other titles conferred upon Him in His youth are all indicative of a mysterious being who is the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant.

Every Covenant has two sides, each with its own obligations. Bahá'u'lláh has fulfilled His side of the Covenant by bequeathing to humanity two precious gifts: one, the outpouring of His Revelation; and the other, His Covenant with its centre in the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. To revert to our analogy: Bahá'u'lláh vouchsafed to mankind the ocean of His Revelation. He also created an unbreachable reservoir for it in the Covenant, in the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, to provide an unfailing supply of pure water, no matter how much pollution men may try to introduce into the life-giving waters of that Revelation. Having identified the part that Bahá'u'lláh fulfils in this Covenant, we note that the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, who constitute the other side of the Covenant, have the obligation to draw the life-giving waters of His Revelation from that reservoir, to become revived, to live in accordance with His teachings and be transformed into a new creation.

During the ministry of Bahá'u'lláh, the believers had the inestimable privilege of turning to Him in person; many were honoured to attain His presence. These believers received the bounties of God directly from Bahá'u'lláh and were guided by Him in numerous Tablets revealed for them. Consequently they were enabled to conduct their lives according to His good-pleasure. Those souls who acquired spiritual qualities through their direct contact with the Supreme Manifestation of God were magnetized by Him and were transformed into spiritual giants of this Dispensation.

After the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, it was 'Abdu'l-Bahá who, by virtue of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh as revealed in His Will and Testament  6  (the Kitáb-i-'Ahd), possessed the authority and infallibility to guide the friends to the spiritual potencies of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. Thus the believers turned to 'Abdu'l-Bahá for guidance and He imparted to them the soul-stirring truths which were enshrined in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and shared with them the inestimable gems of spirit which were hidden in the depths of the ocean of His Revelation.

Also during this period a number of faithless relatives of 'Abdu'l-Bahá joined hands with some unscrupulous individuals in both the East and the West in an assault on the mighty wall of the Covenant which the hand of omnipotence had placed around the sanctuary of His Cause. These persons asserted that their objections were founded on the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh but, although they had access to the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, they distorted their meaning and betrayed their purpose. Turning away from 'Abdu'l-Bahá and denying the authority with which Bahá'u'lláh had invested Him, they deprived themselves of the centre of infallible interpretation and guidance and thus they extinguished the spirit of the Faith within their hearts.

In a Tablet emphasizing the importance of steadfastness in the Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that in this day the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh will reach only those who are firm in the Covenant.'[12] The Master affirms that even should one who was an embodiment of the Holy Spirit fail to turn to the Centre of the Covenant, he would become a dead body. For a period of 29 years 'Abdu'l-Bahá guided the Bahá'ís of the world to fulfil their part of the Covenant and at His passing He bequeathed an undivided Faith and the pure, life-giving water of the teachings to future generations.
[12 Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 5, pp. 98-9.]

With the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Apostolic Age of the Faith came to an end and the Faith entered the Formative Age. The forces of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, which streamed forth from the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His ministry, had now ceased. But 'Abdu'l-Bahá had a plan for the believers. He did not abandon them to their own devices. He delineated in His Will and Testament the outline of a marvellous scheme to enable the believers to raise up the institutions created by Bahá'u'lláh for the governance of society in His Dispensation. Thus the believers in the Formative Age were given the opportunity to play their part, as bidden by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the building up of the institutions of the Faith which are to act as channels for carrying the spiritual energies released by Bahá'u'lláh to every part of the planet. Central to this design was the institution of the Guardianship, which continued the essential task of preserving the purity of the water of the revelation after 'Abdu'l-Bahá, interpreted its provisions and guided the believers in erecting the administrative order of the Faith.

Shoghi Effendi has singled out the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá from among all His writings as being specially invested with  7  divine authority capable of shaping the destiny of the Community of the Most Great Name during the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith, saying:

It was 'Abdu'l-Bahá Who, through the provisions of His weighty
Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever
connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in
 -- the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith -- a stage that
must in the fullness of time reach its blossom and yield its fruit in
the exploits and triumphs that are to herald the Golden Age of the
Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.[13]
[13 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 98.]

The Will and Testament, described by Shoghi Effendi as the Charter of the New World Order, was written in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own hand and is signed and sealed by Him. It consists of three parts, written at different times during the darkest days of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's life, when He was living in the house of 'Abdu'llah Pasha. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was incarcerated in the fortress city of 'Akká through the machinations and intrigues of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the arch-breaker of the Covenant, who was ably assisted by his brothers and other Covenant-breakers. The date on which each part was written is not given but the first part of the Will is likely to have been written sometime in 1906 or later.[*]
[* One clue to the date of the Will's completion is that Shu'a'u'llah, a son of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, sent a letter from the United States to Majdu'd-Din, the arch-enemy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, dated 27 Tashrin 2nd (27 November) 1905. Somehow this letter came into the possession of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He refers to this letter in the first part of the Will and Testament (see Will and Testament para. 9). Bearing in mind the time it took for the letter to reach the Holy Land by surface post, and not knowing when or how it fell into 'Abdu'l-Bahá's hands, it is reasonable to assume that the first part of the Will was written sometime in 1906 or later.]

The dangers surrounding 'Abdu'l-Bahá were great. Every day was fraught with perils and tribulations and 'Abdu'l-Bahá took great care for the protection of the historic document, placing it under ground. These are His own words:

This written paper hath for a long time been preserved under
ground, damp having affected it. When brought forth to the light
it was observed that certain parts of it were injured by the damp,
and the Holy Land being sorely agitated it was left untouched.[14]
[14 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, p. 15.]

Concerning the significance of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi writes:

 8 
We stand indeed too close to so monumental a document to
claim for ourselves a complete understanding of all its implications,
or to presume to have grasped the manifold mysteries it
undoubtedly contains. Only future generations can comprehend
the value and the significance attached to this Divine Masterpiece,
which the hand of the Master-builder of the world has
designed for the unification and the triumph of the world-wide
Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.[l5]
[15 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p.8.]

He also states:

...the full meaning of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
as well as an understanding of the implications of the World Order
ushered in by that remarkable Document, can be revealed only
gradually to men's eyes, and after the Universal House of Justice
has come into being. The friends are called upon to trust to time
and to await the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, which,
as circumstances require, will make pronouncements that will
resolve and clarify obscure matters.[16]
[16 Shoghi Effendi quoted in Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 54-5.]

Of the genesis of the Will and Testament Shoghi Effendi writes:

The creative energies released by the Law of Bahá'u'lláh, permeating
and evolving within the mind of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, have, by their
very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument
which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which
is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation.
The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring
resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated
the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the
One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. Being the Child of
the Covenant -- the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter
of the Law of God -- the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá can
no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and
motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived
it. Bahá'u'lláh's inscrutable purpose, we must ever bear in mind,
has been so thoroughly infused into the conduct of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
and their motives have been so closely wedded together, that the
mere attempt to dissociate the teachings of the former from any
system which the ideal Exemplar of those same teachings has
established would amount to a repudiation of one of the most
sacred and basic truths of the Faith.[17]
[17 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 144.]

The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá has been described by Shoghi Effendi as the document which has fulfilled the prophecy of the Báb concerning the establishment of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, of which the Will and Testament is a charter. Shoghi Effendi further identifies the Will and Testament as 'the Charter of a future world  9  civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas'.[18]
[18 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 328.]

A careful study of the relationship between the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas may bring to light the workings of a process of organic evolution in the realm of divine revelation. It appears that instead of revealing in detail every aspect of His laws and teachings, Bahá'u'lláh intentionally left certain aspects of His Revelation to mature and then be revealed during the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá Thus 'Abdu'l-Bahá's contribution to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh may be described as the supreme act of enriching the vast ocean of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. Shoghi Effendi describes this process in these words:

In fact, he who reads the Aqdas with care and diligence will not
find it hard to discover that the Most Holy Book itself anticipates
in a number of passages the institutions which 'Abdu'l-Bahá
ordains in His Will. By leaving certain matters unspecified and
unregulated in His Book of Laws, Bahá'u'lláh seems to have
deliberately left a gap in the general scheme of Bahá'í Dispensation,
which the unequivocal provisions of the Master's Will have
filled. To attempt to divorce the one from the other, to insinuate
that the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh have not been upheld, in their
entirety and with absolute integrity, by what 'Abdu'l-Bahá has
revealed in His Will, is an unpardonable affront to the unswerving
fidelity that has characterized the life and labours of our beloved
Master.[19]
[19 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 4.]

When the provisions of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and those of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá are realized at their appointed time, the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will come into being, unveiling to mankind the glory and majesty of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. As we have already stated, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, through His Will and Testament, left for the Bahá'ís of the Formative Age a master plan for the building of the institutions of the Administrative Order and it was Shoghi Effendi, whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá extolled as a pearl, unique and priceless, the Sign of God, the Guardian of the Cause of God and the Expounder and Interpreter of His Word, who guided the believers in the execution of this task. In the course of his 36 years as Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, in addition to all his other achievements, expounded the relationship between the two divinely-ordained, uniquely guided institutions of the Faith: the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. In his letter addressed on 21 March 1930 to the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada he wrote, referring to the unique nature of the Administrative Order created by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

 10 
Not only have they revealed all the directions required for the
practical realization of those ideals which the Prophets of God have
visualized, and which from time immemorial have inflamed the
imagination of seers and poets in every age. They have also, in
unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institution
of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their
chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate
the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the
Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate
the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have
bequeathed to the world.[20]
[20 ibid. pp. 19-20. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order.)]

Now, since the passing of Shoghi Effendi, it is the Universal House of Justice, the other of the two 'chosen successors' of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, which performs the function of protecting the purity of the Revelation. It ensures that no one may infringe the exclusive prerogative of the Guardian by attempting to assert authoritative interpretations of the writings. At the same time, it performs the various functions conferred upon it in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and, through its legislative actions, provides that element of elasticity which enables the Faith to meet the challenging needs of a fast-evolving human society.

The world-vivifying forces of the Faith stream out from this divinely-ordained institution into a vast network of Assemblies, bestowing spiritual life upon multitudes in every part of the world. Concerning the significance of these divinely-ordained channels, Shoghi Effendi makes this remarkable statement:

The moment had now arrived for that undying, that world-vitalizing
Spirit that was born in Shiraz, that had been rekindled in
Tihran, that had been fanned into flame in Baghdad and
Adrianople, that had been carried to the West, and was now
illuminating the fringes of five continents, to incarnate itself in
institutions designed to canalize its outspreading energies and
stimulate its growth.[21]
[21 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 324.]

A deeper study of the writings of Shoghi Effendi makes it abundantly clear that the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá is a momentous document endowed with undreamt-of potentialities whose import only the passage of time can reveal. Its provisions are designed not only to guide the believers in the erection of the divinely-ordained institutions but it also provides, like the Kitáb-i-'Ahd, rigorous tests of faith to every follower of Bahá'u'lláh. As we study the following pages of this book, we will observe that many believers, including some outstanding but egotistical and ambitious teachers of the Cause, were severely tested.  11  They failed to abide by the sacred provisions of these vital documents and consequently the flame of their faith was extinguished and they spiritually perished.

 12 
1
Prerequisites for the Study of the
Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh

A true understanding of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh gained by focusing on the Kitáb-i-'Ahd and the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá is dependent upon one's wholehearted faith in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. To comprehend, however inadequately, the manifold mysteries contained in these two great documents and to appreciate the provisions enshrined in them, one must first and foremost recognize the station of Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God whose sublime and momentous Revelation has many unique features. In the person of its Author, transcendental in His majesty, in the intensity of its glory, in the prolific outpouring of its holy writ, in the unifying power of its Covenant, in the revolutionizing influence of its teachings, in the release of its world-vitalizing forces, in the strength and vitality of its institutions, the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh 'stands unparalleled in the annals of the past, nor will future ages witness its like'.[22] It endows the human race with undreamt-of potentialities and provides the means for its progress and spiritual development in this Dispensation. Bahá'u'lláh has extolled His Revelation in glowing terms. His writings are replete with passages such as these:
[22 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 77.]

None among the Manifestations of old, except to a prescribed
degree, hath ever completely apprehended the nature of this
Revelation.[23]
[23 ibid. (Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice,
p. 77.)]

I testify before God to the greatness, the inconceivable greatness
of this Revelation.[24]
[24 ibid. (Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice,
p. 77.)]

The purpose underlying all creation is the revelation of this most
sublime, this most holy Day, the Day known as the Day of God, in
His Books and Scriptures -- the Day which all the Prophets, and
the Chosen Ones, and the holy ones, have wished to witness.[25]
[25 ibid. (Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice,
p. 77.)]

This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out, 'Great is thy
blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the footstool of
thy God, and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne.'[26]
[26 ibid. p. 78. (Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine
Justice.)]

 13 

Belief in the authenticity of such a momentous Revelation and firmness in the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh are the first requirements for the successful study and understanding of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The next step is to recognize the limitations of the human mind in unravelling the divine mysteries concealed within the revealed Word and in appreciating the true station of its Author.

Although God has endowed every human being of sound mind with the capacity to recognize and to know the Manifestation of God, this capacity has its limitations. We observe that in this material world God has not given creatures of the lower kingdoms the capacity to comprehend the qualities and powers of the higher ones. In each kingdom there are barriers which the creatures cannot overstep. Thus an animal, no matter how intelligent, cannot understand human intellectual and spiritual powers. It can perceive people only as creatures similar to itself and judge their actions from its own limited outlook.

The same is true when we examine the relationship between the Manifestation of God and human beings. One is on a level far above the other. Although a Manifestation of God is physically human, to regard Him as being one with humanity is inadmissible. To view man as an equal with Him is similar to the animal observing a human and considering itself to be his equal.

 significance of their contents; they became deluded, were severely tested and lost their faith altogether.[*]
[* See the stories of the Covenant-breakers in later chapters.]

Although the human intellect has its limitations, through the power of prayer, the assistance of the Holy Spirit and reliance on the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, it is possible to acquire a profound understanding of the Kitáb-i-'Ahd and the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The words of God are revealed for man to comprehend and to become revived by their life-giving influence. How, then, should he approach the holy writings in order to fathom the inner reality of the Word of God and become exhilarated by its transforming power? Bahá'u'lláh has shown the way by laying down certain conditions through which a soul can immerse itself in the  15  ocean of His words and obtain the pearls of wisdom and knowledge hidden in its depths.

The criteria Bahá'u'lláh has established for understanding His Revelation and His Covenant are different from those usually advocated by men of learning and knowledge untouched by the light of His Faith. Their criteria are generally based on the premise that to master any subject in depth, the individual must acquire academic knowledge and become an accomplished scholar.

Although Bahá'u'lláh has enjoined His followers to acquire knowledge and has praised the station of men of learning, He has not made recognition of His Cause, the true understanding of His words and the comprehension of the inner realities of His Revelation dependent upon acquired knowledge. The opening paragraph of the Kitáb-i-Íqán states:

No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding
except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth.[30]
[30 Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 3.]

Bahá'u'lláh continues:

The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the
utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon
human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity
of soul, and freedom of spirit. This is evidenced by those who,
today, though without a single letter of the accepted standards of
learning, are occupying the loftiest seats of knowledge; and the
garden of their hearts is adorned, through the showers of divine
grace, with the roses of wisdom and the tulips of understanding.
Well is it with the sincere in heart for their share of the light of a
mighty Day![31]
[31 ibid. p. 211. (Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán.)]

The writings of Bahá'u'lláh are replete with similar passages in which He states that man can acquire the knowledge of God and come to understand the significance of His words only through purity of heart, detachment from earthly things and humility and meekness before His servants. These qualities, together with a staunch faith in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and the guidance of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, constitute the two essential prerequisites for a deeper understanding of the provisions of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Apart from these two requirements, the study of the Will and Testament and of the Kitáb-i-'Ahd calls for some general knowledge of the history of the Covenant and of the family of Bahá'u'lláh, particularly those who violated His Covenant. Therefore, a brief history of the personal life of Bahá'u'lláh and of some who rose up against the Centre of the Covenant is provided here.

 16 
2
The Family of Bahá'u'lláh

The Covenant established by Bahá'u'lláh may be said to embody two contrasting features. One facilitates the individual's integration and consolidation in the community of the Most Great Name, enabling believers to rise to the loftiest heights of heroism and self-sacrifice and of loyalty and devotion. This process imparts a new life and vigour to the body of the Cause, thereby releasing progressively a world-vitalizing spirit that propels the onward march of the Faith towards its ultimate goal of the unification of the human race. The other feature of the Covenant protects the stronghold of the Cause from all attacks by the unfaithful and, through the power inherent within the institution of the Covenant, defeats their evil doings. The result is their expulsion from the Faith and their spiritual extinction.

This second feature can best be observed through the study of the fierce opposition of most members of Bahá'u'lláh's family to the Centre of the Covenant. It created an unprecedented tempest which raged furiously within the community for several decades and threatened to disrupt its unity and shake its divinely-ordained but young and vulnerable institutions. The onslaught of the family members and other Covenant-breakers upon the Cause of God, on the one hand, and their eventual extinction, on the other, constitute the most dramatic episodes in the ministries of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. These are some of the darkest pages in the history of the Faith yet they cast light upon the mysterious forces operating within the Cause of God -- forces that tear down every obstacle as the Cause marches towards its ultimate victory. They clearly demonstrate the vitality and the indestructibility of the Faith and serve to delineate the pattern of crisis and victory that characterizes its worldwide growth and development.

Rebellion against the Covenant originated from the immediate family of Bahá'u'lláh -- His sons, daughters, wives and close relatives. Since the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to their manifold betrayals and evil doings, it is necessary to become informed about their relationship to Bahá'u'lláh and the manner in which He conducted His personal life.

 17 

To attempt to study the life of Bahá'u'lláh purely from the human point of view is an unhelpful exercise. Whereas man is motivated by the human spirit and lives his life as dictated by the laws of nature and his environment, Bahá'u'lláh, the Manifestation of God, lived His life in conformity with the standards of the Divine Realm and regulated His conduct in accordance with the dictates of the Most Great Spirit, which animated Him.

While the Manifestations of God all shine with the splendours of God's Revelation, they can reveal themselves in only two ways. The first is to appear in their naked glory. Should this happen, all human beings would witness their awesome power, would bow before their majesty and would submit their will entirely to God's Viceregent on earth. People would thus become puppets of God and lose their free will; all would follow the path of truth, not by their own volition but by capitulating to the irresistible power of the Manifestation of God. By the force of God's command, all would obey His teachings and would live a goodly life; no one would have the choice to be different. The Covenant of God would become meaningless because if there were no free will, how could human beings observe the laws of the Covenant? Should the Manifestation of God appear in this way and expose His august attributes to the generality of mankind, people would be devoid of the power of creativity, becoming creatures whose actions were controlled from a higher realm. The principles of justice and of reward and punishment would then become inoperative in society.

The only other way that the Manifestations of God can reveal themselves, which ensures the preservation of human free will, is to conceal their divine power behind the veil of human characteristics. Although they possess majestic, divine qualities, it is, according to Bahá'u'lláh, against the law of God for them to reveal these to the generality of mankind.

For instance, we observe with amazement that Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, who held the powers of earth and heaven in His hands, and who, through the utterance of one word, as testified by Himself in His Tablets, could have conquered the hearts of His enemies, did not exercise His God-given spiritual powers to stay the hands of His oppressors. Thus He appeared to the generality of mankind to be an ordinary human being devoid of any superhuman powers; only those who have spiritual eyes can see a glimpse of His radiant light and recognize His station, while the great majority of the people fail to discover His inner spiritual reality. Through this method people can exercise their free will to accept or to reject the Message of God, to live in accordance with His teachings or to disobey Him.

 18 

A Manifestation of God has two sides: human and divine. The human side performs a special role, veiling the splendours of the divine light that shines within His person. Therefore, a Manifestation of God is bound to regulate His life so as to express all His human characteristics. He has to eat, sleep and carry on His life like any other person. These limitations of human nature can become barriers for people in recognizing Him as the Manifestation of God. One of these is the marriage of the Manifestation -- an especially great obstacle for many of Christian background, who have been brought up to believe that celibacy befits a holy person and that marriage is inappropriate for a Manifestation of God. On the other hand, the Manifestations of God are perfect in body as in spirit and attributing a lack of sexual urge to a holy person would amount to physical deficiency rather than a virtue. Perhaps the Christian view stems from the fact that Christ seems not to have been married when He declared His mission. However, Christ did not speak against marriage. That He Himself did not marry may be because His ministry was short and for most of it He was homeless, going from place to place until He was crucified.

Since the Manifestations of God share with the people all characteristics of human nature, it follows that they may live a normal life, engage in a profession, have a home, marry and raise a family. They also possess all human emotions. They are sensitive beings who experience feelings of joy and sadness, of pain and comfort, of likes and dislikes. What distinguishes them from the rest of mankind is that their spiritual side completely dominates their physical nature and they are absolutely detached from the material world.

Another feature of the life of a Manifestation of God which is essential for hiding His glory is that He lives in accordance with the laws and conventions of the society to which He belongs. He eats the same type of food, wears the same type of clothes and carries out the same customs as the rest of the people of His culture and background. He does not live in the pattern of the future society that will emerge centuries later as a result of His teachings and about which He has full knowledge. For example, during the ministry of Jesus two thousand years ago, Christ lived in a manner similar to the Israelites of the time. By following the customs of the people of His own land, the Manifestation of God does not appear conspicuously different from the rest of the people and this is how His glory is hidden behind His human facade. Thus His contemporaries look upon Him as an ordinary man.

Bahá'u'lláh belonged to a noble family of Tihran. His father, Mirza 'Abbas-i-Nuri, known as Mirza Buzurg, held a very important ministerial position in the court of the Shah and was highly regarded by the  19  dignitaries of the realm. Circumstances of family life in Islamic countries were totally different from those of present-day Western society. The law of Islam concerning polygamy prevailed, allowing men to have a maximum of four wives at the same time. Mirza Buzurg married four wives and had three concubines and 15 children -- five daughters and ten sons. Bahá'u'lláh was born on 12 November 1817 in Tihran. His mother, Kadijih Khanum, the second wife of Mirza Buzurg, had a son and two daughters from a previous marriage. As a result, Bahá'u'lláh had ten brothers and seven sisters. Some of them became steadfast believers, some followed Mirza Yahya and others remained indifferent or died before Bahá'u'lláh's declaration in the Garden of Ridvan.

Bahá'u'lláh received an elementary education during His childhood in Tihran. The nobility of those days usually employed the services of a teacher at home to tutor their children. The main subjects were calligraphy, the study of the Qur'án and the works of the Persian poets. This type of schooling ended after only a few years when the child was in his early teens. Bahá'u'lláh's education did not go further than this. He Himself testifies in His Tablet to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh that He did not attend any school in His life:

O King! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when
lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught
Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me,
but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing. And He bade Me
lift up My voice between earth and heaven, and for this there befell
Me what hath caused the tears of every man of understanding to
flow. The learning current amongst men I studied not; their
schools I entered not. Ask of the city wherein I dwelt, that thou
mayest be well assured that I am not of them who speak falsely.
This is but a leaf which the winds of the will of thy Lord, the
Almighty, the All-Praised, have stirred. Can it be still when
the tempestuous winds are blowing? Nay, by Him Who is the Lord
of all Names and Attributes! They move it as they list.[32]
[32 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day is Come, pp. 40-l.]

It is necessary for the purpose of studying the Covenant to become informed of Bahá'u'lláh's marriages and His children. Bahá'u'lláh had married three wives before the declaration of His mission in 1863. As has already been stated, the Manifestation of God conducts His personal life according to the customs of the time. Polygamy was a normal practice in those days; indeed, it would have been abnormal for a man who belonged to the nobility to be monogamous in that society.

In order to appreciate this subject, it is essential to become familiar with some aspects of the Islamic world of the 19th century. Among  20  the Muslim communities of the Middle East, women lived entirely under the domination of men and were not allowed to take part in public affairs. Girls grew up in the home of their parents, lived most of their time indoors and had no contact with the public. When they were given in marriage to their husbands (an event over which they had no control), they moved into a different house and spent most of their time in complete seclusion until they died. No man, except a very close relative, was ever allowed to see the face of a woman. She had to wear a chadur[*] and veil her face. It was considered a sin for a woman to show her face to any man. When a male guest arrived at a home, all the women had to retire into the inner apartment, their sanctuary where no strange man would ever be admitted.
[* A large piece of cloth which covers the entire body from top to toe and is wrapped around one's clothes.]

Another restriction was that women, especially unmarried girls, were not to talk to men. Neither would they be permitted to go out for shopping or other services; these were the exclusive preserve of men. Such acts would have necessitated women taking part in public affairs and coming into contact with men. So strong was this restriction that if ever a woman was seen talking to a strange man she would receive very severe punishment from her parents or husband. The stigma attached to this behaviour was so repugnant that sometimes the poor victim would commit suicide. Some Muslim clergy in Persia are known to have inflicted torturous chastisements upon a man who was accused of talking to a woman. Usually a much more severe punishment awaited a non-Muslim man if he was found speaking to a Muslim woman.

Women in those days had no status in the community. They were treated like objects. Some members of the clergy went so far as to claim that women had no souls, much as Christian theologians had done seven hundred years earlier. Within such a society a woman's life was spent almost entirely within the four walls of a house; caring for her family and the menfolk who lived there. It was very rare for a young girl to receive any education. The great majority of women were illiterate and were therefore left out of the mainstream of human progress and civilization. Even the few who received some education were circumscribed in their activities. Parents were responsible for providing a son with his livelihood, his home and all his needs -- including a wife, who would be given to him as a matter of routine. Parents arranged their children's marriages and usually the parties most concerned had no say in the matter.

In the Western world today, a couple meet and get to know one another, fall in love and get married. But in the time of Bahá'u'lláh  21  this was not the case in the East and often not in the West either. 'Love' took second place to family duty, appropriate social ties and questions of inheritance.

It was customary to betroth a boy and a girl soon after they were born and when the boy reached his late teens he had to marry; the couple had no choice. There was no question of the partners loving each other before their marriage; the boy was not even allowed to see the face of his bride until after the wedding. If the two parties were not betrothed so young, the parents would usually seek a bride for their son once he was in his teens. This was done by a female member of the family, his mother or a sister. Once the choice was made, the marriage could take place. All the young man saw of his future wife was a figure wrapped in a chadur and heavily veiled. If he was fortunate, his female relatives had perhaps described to him what his bride really looked like.

Although couples were not in a position to choose their partners in marriage and had no possibility of knowing and loving each other, not all marriages were devoid of love and unity. It is not difficult to visualize the case of a couple, unacquainted with each other initially, who develop a bond of friendship, love and harmony after marriage. Yet within such an environment, the dominant position of the husband was noticeably upheld as he exercised unquestioned authority over his wife.

In these circumstances all the responsibility of running the home -- which entailed hard labour in those days -- was left to the wife, who would be lucky if there were other female members of the family to help her in her duties. It was considered improper to employ a maid to assist in the work, since only a woman who was a close relative could be admitted into the household. However, since polygamy was commonly practised, a man could usually marry up to four wives and they were expected to assist each other in managing the family home. This often became a necessity where the husband was wealthy and influential and had to maintain a large household and conduct a lifestyle befitting his station in society. It was usually the first wife who would seek out, or give her consent for, the second wife.

It is clear that marriage customs in Persia during the 19th century are not comparable to those now current in most parts of the world. The mere mention of polygamy today will raise in people's minds associations of sex, lust and corruption. But this was not true in the case of people who contracted marriages according to Islamic law over a hundred years ago. Men practised polygamy not necessarily from lust but because they were conducting their lives within a society that had established certain customs and conventions to which all had to conform. Thus a young man happily submitted his will to that of his  22  parents and carried out their wish in marrying someone of their choosing; thereafter he contracted further marriages as a routine matter.

use of their ambitious nature and their lack of spirituality and self-effacement, their inner eyes were blinded -- unable to discern Bahá'u'lláh's spiritual powers. They could see Him only with their outward eyes, and because they were closest to Him they saw Him as an ordinary human being. They found Him to be, in their estimation, just a great man and nothing more. In reality, they had not recognized Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God. As long as Bahá'u'lláh was among them, they were subdued by His authority, basked in the light of His favours and were accorded honours and privileges by His followers. But after His ascension, these same family members turned their backs on Him and broke the Covenant.

 28 
3
Tests of Faith

One of the common features of the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá is that during their lifetimes neither of them identified their successors to the believers in general. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh extolled the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and praised His outstanding qualities. But at no time during His ministry did Bahá'u'lláh disclose to His followers the position of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as His successor and the Centre of His Covenant. He kept this a well-guarded secret and did not intimate to His followers in general that 'Abdu'l-Bahá would be administering the affairs of the Cause after Him. The same is true of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; he did not disclose the identity of Shoghi Effendi to the believers. In the case of Bahá'u'lláh, the only two references in His writings on the question of successorship are found in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. In these passages He alludes in meaningful, profound and eloquent language to the one who will become the Centre of the Cause after Him but He does not explicitly mention His successor's name, only indicating that He has issued from Him.

When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My
Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath
purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root.[40]
[40 Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 121.]

When the Mystic Dove will have winged its flight from its Sanctuary
of Praise and sought its far-off goal, its hidden habitation, refer ye
whatsoever ye understand not in the Book to Him Who hath
branched from this mighty Stock.[41]
[41 ibid. para. 174. (Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas.)]

It is known that 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa, the renowned Apostle of Bahá'u'lláh, asked Him about the identity of the person alluded to in the above verses. In a Tablet addressed to Varqa[42] Bahá'u'lláh indicated that the intended person was the Most Great Branch and after Him the Greater Branch. However, this disclosure was not shared with the Bahá'í community.
[42 Quoted by Fadil-i-Yazdi in his Manahiju'l-Ahkam, vol. 2, p. 657.]

The passages cited above were revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas 19 years before the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. During the intervening years, no one who read them had any doubt as to the identity of the one Whom God had purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient  29  Root'. It was obvious to all, especially to every member of Bahá'u'lláh's family, that this was a reference to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and no one else.

The only document that explicitly announced 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh and the one to whom all must turn after His ascension was the Kitáb-i-'Ahd (The Book of the Covenant), which was published among the believers only after Bahá'u'lláh's passing. This historic document was probably written at least one year before His ascension, for it is alluded to in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf as the 'Crimson Book'. Bahá'u'lláh kept His Will and Testament secret, retained it in His own possession and did not share its contents with anyone during His lifetime. But there is evidence to suggest that He had intimated its contents to 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Bahá'u'lláh entrusted the Kitáb-i-'Ahd to 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His last illness before His ascension and informed the members of His family a few days before He departed from this world that in a document entrusted by Him to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, He had commended them all to His care. The first time the Kitáb-i-'Ahd was read aloud in the presence of a number of friends was on the ninth day after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, and soon afterwards its text was released to the believers.

Immediately after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh the Covenant was violated and opposition to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Centre of the Covenant, began.

Those who are unfamiliar with the history and origins of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, or who have a superficial understanding of His Faith, may find it strange that while Bahá'u'lláh explained every subject to His followers and clarified their every question, He did not specifically name His successor during His lifetime. It is customary, and indeed essential, for a monarch to nominate his heir to the throne before his death. In this way his subjects will have every opportunity to become familiar with their future head of state and orient themselves towards him. What prevented Bahá'u'lláh from doing this? Could He not have announced to the entire Bahá'í community during His own days the appointment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of His Covenant? Looking at it from a purely human point of view, it appears that had Bahá'u'lláh made such an appointment during His lifetime, all the differences that arose after His ascension could have been avoided. He, as the Manifestation of God, had the wisdom and authority to settle every misunderstanding, to suppress any opposition, to establish the position of 'Abdu'l-Bahá on a firm foundation in the minds and hearts of the believers, and to ensure the loyal support of His successor by all the members of His family.

 30 

But Bahá'u'lláh did none of these things. He did not disclose the identity of the person who was to succeed Him but kept it a well-guarded secret, to be divulged only after His passing. 'Abdu'l-Bahá also did the same thing in relation to His successor. He did not reveal the identity of Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God during His own lifetime. That also was a well-guarded secret, disclosed only when His Will and Testament was read. It is true that 'Abdu'l-Bahá intimated the identity of His successor to one or two individuals but the generality of the Bahá'í community remained unaware of it. The person who was privy to this appointment was the Greatest Holy Leaf. Another person was a non-Bahá'í woman, Dr J. Fallscheer, a German physician who lived in Haifa and attended the ladies of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's household. When Shoghi Effendi was a child, 'Abdu'l-Bahá clearly stated to her that Shoghi Effendi would be His successor. But this information was not communicated to anybody else. In answer to a question from three believers as to whether there would be someone to succeed Him, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote a short reply:

...Know verily that this is a well-guarded secret. It is even as a
gem concealed within its shell. That it will be revealed is predestined.
The time will come when its light will appear, when its
evidences will be made manifest, and its secrets unravelled.[43]
[43 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 1.]

Another believer enquired about a verse in Isaiah (11:6), 'a little child shall lead them', wanting to know whether this was true and whether the child who would succeed 'Abdu'l-Bahá was then living. In response 'Abdu'l-Bahá revealed the following Tablet:

O Maidservant of God!
Verily, that child is born and is alive and from him will appear
wondrous things that thou wilt hear of in the future. Thou shalt
behold him endowed with the most perfect appearance, supreme
capacity, absolute perfection, consummate power and unsurpassed
might. His face will shine with a radiance that illumines all the
horizons of the world; therefore forget this not as long as thou dost
live inasmuch as ages and centuries will bear traces of him.
Upon thee be greetings and praise
'Abdu'l-Bahá 'Abbas[44]
[44 ibid. p. 2. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl.)]

However, in this Tablet 'Abdu'l-Bahá did not reveal the identity of Shoghi Effendi as that child who would succeed Him.

That the successors of the Centre of the Covenant and of Shoghi Effendi were disclosed only after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and of 'Abdu'l-Bahá constitutes one of the most important features of the Covenant. Not until one grasps the purpose and significance of such  31  steps, whether in the appointment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá or Shoghi Effendi, will the believer be able to acquire a true comprehension of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

Although such an understanding must come about primarily through the individual's meditations upon the holy writings, his study of the history, genesis and workings of the Covenant and his prayers that his heart may become the recipient of divine knowledge, the following explanation may throw some light on this important subject.

The main function of the Manifestation of God is to reveal the teachings of God for the age in which He appears. In so doing, He is ready to explain to His followers the meaning and purpose of His Revelation and to answer any difficult questions for them. Both in His association with the believers and in His Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh was always ready to explain the significance of His writings. Many of His Tablets were revealed in response to questions asked by His followers and others on weighty religious and spiritual matters as well as minor problems that affected the lives and activities of the friends. To all these questions Bahá'u'lláh responded. He expounded His teachings; He interpreted the Scriptures of the past, clarifying many of their abstruse passages and statements; He revealed the mysteries surrounding some of His profound utterances; and He delineated the features of His New World Order, giving details of the application of His laws and ordinances, and explaining, in simple terms, the verities of His Faith.

On one subject, however, Bahá'u'lláh remained silent: designating the person who was to succeed Him. There are many wisdoms in this. Let us use the analogy of the teacher, whose duty is to impart knowledge to his pupils and help them in their work. In so doing, he is always ready to explain the various subjects to his pupils and answer their questions but on one occasion he must remain silent and refrain from helping them or answering their questions. On the examination day the students are left on their own and must find the answers by themselves. Those who pass the examination are elevated to a higher class and those who fail are not.

The history of the Faith demonstrates that the Covenant has always provided great tests for the believers. The Bab-gave the glad-tidings of the coming of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' but did not specifically reveal His identity. Bahá'u'lláh kept the appointment of 'Abdu'l-Bahá a secret, and so in the terms of the above analogy the Kitáb-i-'Ahd became the believers' examination paper. The winds of tests began to blow immediately once the contents of that historic document were published, engulfing the community of the Most Great Name in a tempest of unprecedented severity. Many unfaithful and ambitious souls broke the Covenant and arose with all their might to  32  wrest the leadership of the Cause from the hands of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, persisting in their ignoble activities for years until, by their own deeds, they brought about their own extinction. Those who were faithful to the Covenant, however, were elevated to greater heights of faith and devotion.

Tests[*] associated with so mighty an institution as the Covenant are inevitable and constitute an integral and enduring feature of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Similar tests appeared when the contents of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá were made public. Some ambitious people, among them most of the members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own family who sought leadership and proved to be insincere in their faith, broke the Covenant and rose up against Shoghi Effendi. Here again, the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá became an examination paper for the believers.
[*For further discussion of tests in this life see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, and Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 364-5.]

After the passing of Shoghi Effendi, too, the winds of tests blew and some misguided and egotistical personalities broke away and were cast out of the community of the Most Great Name. This time the non-existence of a will and testament by Shoghi Effendi became the examination paper.

The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh will continue to be a testing ground for the followers of Bahá'u'lláh. Those few who may succumb to the dictates of their own selfish desires and arise in opposition to the divinely ordained institutions of the Faith will cut themselves off from the tree of the Cause of God and will wither and perish in time. Indeed, one of the distinguishing features of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is that although many of its outstanding followers rebelled against the Covenant and tried with all their might to undermine its foundations, they did not succeed in creating schisms and breaking the unity of the community.

While a small minority failed in the tests provided by the institution of the Covenant, the majority of Bahá'u'lláh's followers who were loyal to the Covenant became inspired by the Kitáb-i-'Ahd and, at a later epoch, by the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. They enthusiastically rallied around the Centre of the Cause and devotedly endeavoured to carry out provisions embodied in these two great documents. So important to the faith of the believer are the contents of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that Shoghi Effendi has made their observance an article of faith for a true believer who, among other things, must adhere to 'every clause of our Beloved's sacred Will'[45] with loyalty and steadfastness.
[45 Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 90.]

The degree of a believer's adherence to every clause of the Master's Will and Testament determines the measure of his faith. There are  33  those who obey wholeheartedly the provisions of this sacred document and will not deviate a hair's breath from them though there may be a number of aspects which they do not fully understand. Others, while ready to follow some of the directives of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, may have some reservations about certain statements in the Will and Testament that they cannot accept. Such believers experience doubts in their faith but, if sincere, may be able to dispel them through reading the writings, discussion with deepened Bahá'ís and prayer. Others persist in their doubts and hold views contrary to the teachings of the Faith but cannot, for various reasons, resolve their misunderstandings and strengthen their faith. Such people may remain members of the Bahá'í community provided they keep their opinions strictly to themselves and do not propagate their misgivings to others.

Finally, there are those who, while confessing belief in Bahá'u'lláh, do not accept the provisions of His Covenant and rise against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice. Or they may acknowledge Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá but actively oppose Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice. Such people are acting against the Covenant and, after adequate counsels and warnings, may be declared Covenant-breakers.

One of the main factors that turns a believer into a Covenant-breaker is ambition to become prominent in the community, to rise to a high station within the Faith. This is the common objective of most Covenant-breakers. Such individuals have not realized that the only station God has destined for man is that of servitude -- to God and to his fellow-man. Bahá'u'lláh has abolished the priesthood and has given no one authority to rule over others. There are no individual leaders in the Bahá'í community and the Faith does not harbour egotistical personalities. Of course, there are learned Bahá'ís, outstanding teachers, administrators and pioneers, but none of these people, however eminent, can exert authority over the community. Their greatness is in their humility, servitude and self-effacement. Those who have rebelled against the Covenant have not understood or paid attention to this principle, which is the cornerstone of the Covenant of God with man.

We may understand the reality of Covenant-breaking by looking into one of the laws of nature. In this life, opposites attract each other like the poles of a magnet, while similar poles repulse each other. God and man may be said to be positioned on the two opposite poles. God is the sovereign Lord of all and man a humble servant, hence there is a force of attraction between the two. 'I loved thy creation, hence I created thee',[46] is the voice of God addressing His servants. While God is the possessor of all divine attributes, by reason of His sovereignty, He cannot be humble. The best gift, then, which  34  man can offer to God is the only one He does not already possess, namely, humility and servitude. These are the most befitting attributes for man. The lordship of God and the servitude of man are opposites bound together by the force of love. On the other hand, in the analogy of the magnet, similar poles repel each other. Therefore, should an individual, having recognized a Manifestation of God, aspire to reach His station or attempt to appear equal to Him, such an act will provoke the wrath of God and there will be a force of repulsion between the two parties. This is Covenant-breaking.
[46 Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic no. 4.]

In the Tablet of the Holy Mariner,[47] whose main theme is the Covenant, Bahá'u'lláh confirms that should man desire to rise to that level which is beyond him and is solely ordained for God's Chosen Ones, he will be cast out from the realms on high. These are His words:
[47 The full text of this Tablet, with an explanation of its significance, is given in Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, chapter 14.]

They have desired to ascend unto that state which the Lord hath
ordained to be above their stations...
Whereupon the burning meteor cast them out from them that
abide in the Kingdom of His Presence...
And they heard the Voice of Grandeur raised from behind the
unseen pavilion upon the Height of Glory...
'O guardian angels! Return them to their abode in the world
below...
'Inasmuch as they have purposed to rise to that sphere which
the wings of the celestial dove have never attained...[48]
[48 Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 223-4.]

Through his actions Mirza Yahya proved to be the fulfilment of these words, for he longed to take the place of Bahá'u'lláh and, indeed, when formally apprised in Adrianople of Bahá'u'lláh's claim, made his counter-claim and declared himself to be the bearer of a new revelation.

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was the same. He knew the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant, the One to whom all believers must turn. Yet he wanted to be a partner with Him. The fact that Mirza Muhammad-'Ali rose up with all his power to oppose 'Abdu'l-Bahá is a clear sign that he considered himself equal to the Master.

A child will never challenge a giant to a fight because he knows that he is no match for the giant. But a man who chooses to fight with another must believe that he possesses at least the same strength as his opponent; the act of opposition by one party indicates that it considers itself to be on a par with the other. By their very act of opposition, all those who become Covenant-breakers seek to bring themselves to the same level as the Centre of the Covenant and to challenge His authority. Consequently, as in the analogy of the poles  35  of the magnet, they are rejected and are cast out from the community of the Most Great Name.

he hosts of a praiseworthy character and upright
conduct, the influence flowing from such an action will, most
certainly, be diffused, throughout the whole world.[64]
[64 Gleanings, p. 287.]

Again He affirms:

O friends! Help ye the one true God, exalted be His glory, by your
goodly deeds, by such conduct and character as shall be acceptable
in His sight. He that seeketh to be a helper of God in this Day, let
him close his eyes to whatever he may possess, and open them to
the things of God. Let him cease to occupy himself with that which
profiteth him, and concern himself with that which shall exalt the
all-compelling name of the Almighty. He should cleanse his heart
from all evil passions and corrupt desires, for the fear of God is
the weapon that can render him victorious, the primary instrument
whereby he can achieve his purpose. The fear of God is the shield
that defendeth His Cause, the buckler that enableth His people
to attain to victory. It is a standard that no man can abase, a force
that no power can rival.[65]
[65 ibid. p. 272. (Gleanings)]

A believer cannot adequately discharge his responsibility to protect the Cause unless he is firm in the Covenant. It is not sufficient for a Bahá'í only to believe in Bahá'u'lláh and to carry out His teachings while remaining aloof from the Covenant or unresponsive to the guidance proceeding from the Head of the Faith upon whom Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have placed the mantle of authority. Someone with such an unhealthy attitude will not be able to assist the Cause of God; indeed he will hamper its progress. While firmness in the Covenant is a relative term and differs from person to person, to the extent that a believer turns to the Centre of the Cause and readily observes the obligations binding on him through the institution, of the Covenant, to the same extent will he be able to play his part in the protection of the Faith, which 'Abdu'l-Bahá described as 'the greatest of all things'.

One aspect of the protection of the Cause is its defence against the onslaught of internal and external enemies. Today, this function is mainly carried out by the institutions of the Faith,[66] although there is also great scope for the individual believer to play a significant part. For example, refuting accusations or misrepresentations of those who oppose the Faith is an activity which certain learned believers can undertake. Bahá'u'lláh confers upon such people great blessings, as affirmed in the following Tablet:
[66 As an example, see the message of Shoghi Effendi dated 4 June 1957, 'Call to Hands of the Cause and National Assemblies', in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 122-3.]

 49 
Warn, O Salman, the beloved of the one true God, not to view with
too critical an eye the sayings and writings of men. Let them rather
approach such sayings and writings in a spirit of open-mindedness
and loving sympathy. Those men, however, who, in this Day, have
been led to assail, in their inflammatory writings, the tenets of the
Cause of God, are to be treated differently. It is incumbent upon
all men, each according to his ability, to refute the arguments of
those that have attacked the Faith of God. Thus hath it been
decreed by Him Who is the All-Powerful, the Almighty. He that
wisheth to promote the Cause of the one true God, let him promote
it through his pen and tongue, rather than have recourse to
sword or violence. We have, on a previous occasion, revealed this
injunction, and We now confirm it, if ye be of them that comprehend.
By the righteousness of Him Who, in this Day, crieth within
the inmost heart of all created things: 'God, there is none other
God besides Me!' If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings,
the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man, however
inconsiderable his share, shall be so honoured in the world to come
that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can
depict the loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe
its splendour. For whosoever standeth firm and steadfast in this
holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power shall be
given him as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in
heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness.[67]
[67 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 329-30.]

Finally, an important feature of the protection of the Faith is to safeguard it from intrusion by Covenant-breakers. This subject will be dealt with in greater detail in chapter 24.

 50 
6
The Suffering of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh

3-WT The sacred breast of His Holiness, the Exalted One (may
my life be a sacrifice unto Him), was made a target to many a
dart of woe...

'His Holiness, the Exalted One' is one of the titles of the Báb. He offered up His life and through His supreme sacrifice, as testified by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, enormous spiritual forces were released for the advancement of the Cause of God. In the first year after the Declaration of His Message, the Báb expressed His longing to lay down His life in the path of Bahá'u'lláh, to whom He refers as 'The Remnant of God' in the following celebrated passage from the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá':

O Thou Remnant of God! I have sacrificed myself wholly for Thee;
I have accepted curses for Thy sake, and have yearned for naught
but martyrdom in the path of Thy love. Sufficient witness unto me
is God, the Exalted, the Protector, the Ancient of Days.[68]
[68 The Báb, Selections, p. 59.]

About six years later He achieved His heart's desire when He was publicly executed in Tabriz on 9 July 1850. While the circumstances of His martyrdom are recorded in books of history, a brief account of this supreme sacrifice is bound to enlighten the vision and enrich the heart and mind of any believer who embarks on a deeper study of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Here is a short account of this tragic and earth-shaking episode:

After securing the Báb's death warrant from the leading mujtahids of Tabriz, Mirza Hasan Khan, as instructed by his brother, the Grand Vizir, took charge of His execution. As a mark of humiliation, the Báb's green turban and sash, the twin emblems of His noble lineage from the Prophet of Islam, were removed. He was conducted by the farrash-bashi (the chief attendant) to a room in the barracks of the city where a few of His disciples, including His amanuensis, were also imprisoned. Shoghi Effendi describes the circumstances leading to the execution of the Báb in these words:

 51 
The farrash-bashi had abruptly interrupted the last conversation
which the Báb was confidentially having in one of the rooms
of the barracks with His amanuensis Siyyid Husayn, and was
drawing the latter aside, and severely rebuking him, when he
was thus addressed by his Prisoner: 'Not until I have said to him
all those things that I wish to say can any earthly power silence Me.
Though all the world be armed against Me, yet shall it be powerless
to deter Me from fulfilling, to the last word, My intention.' To the
Christian Sam Khan -- the colonel of the Armenian regiment
ordered to carry out the execution -- who, seized with fear lest his
act should provoke the wrath of God, had begged to be released
from the duty imposed upon him, the Báb gave the following
assurance: 'Follow your instructions, and if your intention be sincere,
the Almighty is surely able to relieve you of your perplexity.'

Sam Khan accordingly set out to discharge his duty. A spike was
driven into a pillar which separated two rooms of the barracks facing
the square. Two ropes were fastened to it from which the Báb and
one of his disciples, the youthful and devout Mirza Muhnmad-'Ali-i-Zunuzi
surnamed Anis, who had previously flung himself at the
feet of his Master and implored that under no circumstances he
be sent away from Him, were separately suspended. The firing
squad ranged itself in three files, each of two hundred and fifty men.
Each file in turn opened fire until the whole detachment had
discharged its bullets. So dense was the smoke from the seven
hundred and fifty rifles that the sky was darkened. As soon as the
smoke had cleared away the astounded multitude of about ten
thousand souls, who had crowded onto the roof of the barracks,
as well as the tops of the adjoining houses, beheld a scene which
their eyes could scarcely believe.

The Báb had vanished from their sight! Only his companion
remained, alive and unscathed, standing beside the wall on which
they had been suspended. The ropes by which they had been hung
alone were severed. 'The Siyyid-i-Báb has gone from our sight!'
cried out the bewildered spectators. A frenzied search immediately
ensued. He was found, unhurt and unruffled, in the very room He
had occupied the night before, engaged in completing His interrupted
conversation with His amanuensis. 'I have finished My
conversation with Siyyid Husayn' were the words with which the
Prisoner, so providentially preserved, greeted the appearance of
the farrash-bashi, 'Now you may proceed to fulfil your intention.'
Recalling the bold assertion his Prisoner had previously made, and
shaken by so stunning a revelation, the farrash-bashi quitted
instantly the scene, and resigned his post.

Sam Khan, likewise, remembering, with feelings of awe and
wonder, the reassuring words addressed to him by the Báb, ordered
his men to leave the barracks immediately, and swore, as
he left the courtyard, never again, even at the cost of his life, to
repeat that act. Aqa Jan-i-Kamsih, colonel of the body-guard,
volunteered to replace him. On the same wall and in the same
 52 
manner the Báb and His companion were again suspended, while
the new regiment formed in line and opened fire upon them. This
time, however, their breasts were riddled with bullets, and their
bodies completely dissected, with the exception of their faces which
were but little marred. 'O wayward generation!' were the last words
of the Báb to the gazing multitude, as the regiment prepared to
fire its volley, 'Had you believed in Me every one of you would
have followed the example of this youth, who stood in rank above
most of you, and would have willingly sacrificed himself in My
path. The day will come when you will have recognized Me; that
day I shall have ceased to be with you.'

Nor was this all. The very moment the shots were fired a gale
of exceptional violence arose and swept over the city. From noon
till night a whirlwind of dust obscured the light of the sun, and
blinded the eyes of the people. In Shiraz an 'earthquake', foreshadowed
in no less weighty a Book than the Revelation of St John,
occurred in 1268 AH. which threw the whole city into turmoil and
wrought havoc amongst its people, a havoc that was greatly aggravated
by the outbreak of cholera, by famine and other afflictions.[69]
[69 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 52-4.]

Bahá'u'lláh, as well as the Báb, suffered grievously at the hands of His enemies, as 'Abdu'l-Bahá has testified:

3-WT ...and in Mazindaran, the blessed feet of the Abha
Beauty (may my life be offered up for His loved ones) were so
grievously scourged as to bleed and be sore wounded.

The story of Bahá'u'lláh's imprisonment in Amul is recorded in numerous history books but it is appropriate here to give a brief account of His suffering in His native land, Mazindaran. In the winter of 1848 Bahá'u'lláh, accompanied by a few believers including His half-brother Mirza Yahya, set out from Nur for the fortress of Shaykh Tabarsi. Government forces had besieged the fortress and the defenders inside were in great danger. Bahá'u'lláh's intention was to aid them. To Nabil-A'zam, the famous chronicler of The Dawn-Breakers, He recounted the following:

...We had intended to send 'Abdu'l-Vahhab, one of Our companions,
in advance of Us, and to request him to announce Our
approach to the besieged. Though encompassed by the forces of
the enemy, We had decided to throw in Our lot with those steadfast
companions, and to risk the dangers with which they were confronted.
This, however, was not to be. The hand of Omnipotence
spared Us from their fate and preserved Us for the work We were
destined to accomplish. In pursuance of God's inscrutable wisdom,
the intention We had formed was, before Our arrival at the fort,
communicated by certain inhabitants of Nur to Mirza Taqi, the
 53 
governor of Amul, who sent his men to intercept Us. While We
were resting and taking Our tea, We found Ourselves suddenly
surrounded by a number of horsemen, who seized Our belongings
and captured Our steeds. We were given, in exchange for Our own
horse, a poorly saddled animal which We found it extremely
uncomfortable to ride, The rest of Our companions were conducted,
handcuffed, to Amul. Mirza Taqi succeeded, in spite of the
tumult Our arrival had raised, and in the face of the opposition
of the 'ulamas, in releasing Us from their grasp and in conducting
Us to his own house. He extended to Us the warmest hospitality.
Occasionally he yielded to the pressure which the 'ulamas were
continuously bringing to bear upon him, and felt himself powerless
to defeat their attempts to harm Us.'[70]
[70 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, pp. 583-4.]

The suffering Bahá'u'lláh underwent at the hands of the 'ulama is truly heartrending. Nabil describes how the bastinado[*] was inflicted on Him in public with such ferocity that His feet bled. Here is Nabil's account of the circumstances leading to this tragic outcome:
[*The victim is made to lie on his back on the ground while his feet are inserted into a loop and held up by two men. The soles are then beaten with a cane or a whip.]

...Bahá'u'lláh had signified His wish that they should proceed
directly to their destination and allow no pause in their journey.
His intention was to reach that spot at night, inasmuch as strict
orders had been issued ... that no help should be extended, under
any circumstances, to the occupants of the fort. Guards had been
stationed at different places to ensure the isolation of the besieged.
His companions, however, pressed Him to interrupt the journey
and to seek a few hours of rest. Although He knew that this delay
would involve a grave risk of being surprised by the enemy, He
yielded to their earnest request. They halted at a lonely house
adjoining the road. After supper, His companions all retired to
sleep. He alone, despite the hardships He had endured, remained
wakeful. He knew well the perils to which He and His friends were
exposed, and was fully aware of the possibilities which His early
arrival at the fort involved.

As He watched beside them, the secret emissaries of the enemy
informed the guards of the neighbourhood of the arrival of the
party, and ordered the immediate seizure of whatever they could
find in their possession. 'We have received strict orders,' they told
Bahá'u'lláh, whom they recognized instantly as the leader of the
group, 'to arrest every person we chance to meet in this vicinity,
and are commanded to conduct him, without any previous investigation,
to Amul and deliver him into the hands of its governor....'

 54 
At daybreak, as they were approaching the town, a message was
sent in advance to the acting governor, informing him of the arrival of
a party that had been captured on their way to the fort
of Tabarsi... As soon as the message reached him, he went to the
masjid of Amul and summoned the 'ulamas and leading siyyids of
the town to gather and meet the party. He was greatly surprised
as soon as his eyes saw and recognized Bahá'u'lláh, and deeply
regretted the orders he had given. He feigned to reprimand Him
for the action He had taken, in the hope of appeasing the tumult
and allaying the excitement of those who had gathered in the
masjid. 'We are innocent', Bahá'u'lláh declared, 'of the guilt they
impute to us. Our blamelessness will eventually be established in
your eyes. I would advise you to act in a manner that will cause you
eventually no regret.' The acting governor asked the 'ulama who
were present to put any question they desired. To their enquiries
Bahá'u'lláh returned explicit and convincing replies...

The circumstances which Bahá'u'lláh proceeded to relate in
connection with the reply, no less than the manner of His delivery,
convinced the arrogant mujtahid of his stupidity and blunder.
Unable to contradict so weighty a statement, he preferred to keep
silent. A siyyid angrily interjected: 'This very statement conclusively
demonstrates that its author is himself a Bábí and no less
than a leading expounder of the tenets of that sect.' He urged in
vehement language that its followers be put to death. 'These
obscure sectarians are the sworn enemies', he cried, 'both of the
State and of the Faith of Islam! We must, at all costs, extirpate that
heresy.' He was seconded in his denunciation by the other siyyids
who were present, and who, emboldened by the imprecations
uttered at that gathering, insisted that the governor comply unhesitatingly
with their wishes.

The acting governor was much embarrassed, and realized that
any evidence of indulgence on his part would be fraught with
consequences for the safety of his position. In his desire to hold
in check the passions which had been aroused, he ordered his
attendants to prepare the rods and promptly inflict a befitting
punishment upon the captives. 'We will afterwards', he added,
keep them in prison pending the return of the governor, who will
send them to Tihran, where they will receive, at the hands of the
sovereign, the chastisement they deserve.'

The first who was bound to receive the bastinado was Mulla
Baqir. 'I am only a groom of Bahá'u'lláh,' he urged. 'I was on my,
way to Mashhad when they suddenly arrested me and brought me
to this place.' Bahá'u'lláh intervened and succeeded in inducing
his oppressors to release him. He likewise interceded for Haji
Mirza Jani, who He said was 'a mere tradesman' whom He regarded
as His 'guest', so that He was 'responsible for any charges
brought against him'. Mirza Yahya, whom they proceeded to bind,
was also set free as soon as Bahá'u'lláh had declared him to be His
attendant. 'None of these men', He told the acting governor, 'are
 55 
guilty of any crime. If you insist on inflicting your punishment, I
offer Myself as a willing Victim of your chastisement.' The acting
governor was reluctantly compelled to give orders that Bahá'u'lláh
alone be chosen to suffer the indignity which he had intended
originally for His companions...

Bahá'u'lláh and His companions remained for a time imprisoned
in one of the rooms that formed part of the masjid. The
acting governor, who was still determined to shield his Prisoner
from the assaults of an inveterate enemy, secretly instructed his
attendants to open, at an unsuspected hour, a passage through the
wall of the room in which the captives were confined, and to
transfer their Leader immediately to his home. He was himself
conducting Bahá'u'lláh to his residence when a siyyid sprang
forward and, directing his fiercest invectives against Him, raised
the club which he held in his hand to strike Him. The acting
governor immediately interposed himself and, appealing to the
assailant, 'adjured him by the Prophet of God' to stay his hand.
'What!' burst forth the siyyid. 'How dare you release a man who
is the sworn enemy of the Faith of our fathers? A crowd of ruffians
had meanwhile gathered around him, and by their howls of
derision and abuse added to the clamour which he had raised.
Despite the growing tumult, the attendants of the acting governor
were able to conduct Bahá'u'lláh in safety to the residence of their
master, and displayed on that occasion a courage and presence of
mind that were truly surprising.

is departure from His house in Baghdad, of a different type of headdress known as taj. (tall felt hat), which He wore throughout His ministry. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has described how, upon His arrival in the garden, Bahá'u'lláh declared His station to those of His companions who were present and announced with great joy the inauguration of the Festival of Ridvan.[81] Sadness and grief vanished and the believers were filled with delight. Although Bahá'u'lláh was being exiled to far-off lands and knew the sufferings and tribulations which were in store for Him and His followers, yet through this historic declaration He changed all sorrow into blissful joy and spent the most delightful time of His ministry in the Garden of Ridvan. Indeed, in one of His Tablets He referred to the first day of Ridvan as the 'Day of supreme felicity' and called on His followers to 'rejoice with exceeding gladness' in remembrance of that day.[82]
[81 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Risaliy-i-Ayyam-i-Tis'ah, p. 330.]
[82 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 35.]

 72 
Departure for Constantinople

Bahá'u'lláh left the Garden of Ridvan on the first leg of His journey to Constantinople on 3 May 1863. Shoghi Effendi recounts this historic journey in these words:

The departure of Bahá'u'lláh from the Garden of Ridvan, at noon,
on the 14th of Dhi'l-Qa'dih 1279 A.H. (May 3, 1863), witnessed
scenes of tumultuous enthusiasm no less spectacular, and even
more touching, than those which greeted Him when leaving His
Most Great House in Baghdad. 'The great tumult', wrote an
eyewitness, 'associated in our minds with the Day of Gathering, the
Day of Judgement, we beheld on that occasion. Believers and
unbelievers alike sobbed and lamented. The chiefs and notables
who had congregated were struck with wonder. Emotions were
stirred to such depths as no tongue can describe, nor could any
observer escape their contagion.'

Mounted on His steed, a red roan stallion of the finest breed,
the best His lovers could purchase for Him, and leaving behind
Him a bowing multitude of fervent admirers, He rode forth on
the first stage of a journey that was to carry Him to the city of
Constantinople. 'Numerous were the heads Nabil himself a
witness of that memorable scene, recounts, 'which, on every side,
bowed to the dust at the feet of His horse, and kissed its hoofs,
and countless were those who pressed forward to embrace His
stirrups.' 'How great the number of those embodiments of fidelity,'
testifies a fellow-traveller, 'who, casting themselves before
that charger, preferred death to separation from their Beloved!
Methinks, that blessed steed trod upon the bodies of those pure-
hearted souls.' 'He (God) it was,' Bahá'u'lláh Himself declares,
'Who enabled Me to depart out of the city (Baghdad), clothed
with such majesty as none, except the denier and the malicious,
can fail to acknowledge.'[83]
[83 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 155.]

The journey to Constantinople was arduous and fatiguing, taking 110 days to reach the Port of Samsun on the Black Sea. The route took the party across uplands, woods, valleys and mountain passes which entailed the careful negotiation of narrow roads above dangerous precipices. Accompanying Bahá'u'lláh were members of His family, including His faithful brothers Aqay-i-Kalim and Mirza Muhammad-Quli, and 26 men, among them His disciples and Siyyid Muhammad Isfahani, as well as Mirza Yahya, who joined the party en route.

 73 

A mounted guard of ten soldiers accompanied the caravan of 50 mules and seven howdahs.[*] Most of the time Bahá'u'lláh sat in one pannier with His wife Navvab in the other. Although the howdah was considered a comfortable means of transportation in those days, on long journeys it could be extremely tiring, for one has to sit cross-legged for hours while the panniers continually rise and fall with the movement of the mule's body. 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes how many a night He and Jinab-i-Munib, a devoted lover of Bahá'u'lláh, walked on either side of the howdah. Every time the party approached a village, or was about to depart from it, Bahá'u'lláh would mount His horse -- a practice befitting His station as He appeared in public. On such occasions 'Abdu'l-Bahá would replace Him in His howdah. By virtue of a written order of Namiq Pasha, the Governor of Baghdad, Bahá'u'lláh was enthusiastically welcomed by various high-ranking officials at every village and town as He travelled northward. Shoghi Effendi writes:
[* A litter consisting of a pair of panniers in which two individuals can ride to balance each other's weight. It is carried by a beast of burden, in this case a mule.]

In Karkuk, in Irbil, in Mosul, where He tarried three days, in
Nisibin, in Mardin, in Diyar-Bakr, where a halt of a couple of days
was made, in Kharput, in Sivas, as well as in other villages and
hamlets, He would be met by a delegation immediately before His
arrival, and would be accompanied, for some distance, by a similar
delegation upon His departure. The festivities which, at some
stations, were held in His honour, the food the villagers prepared
and brought for His acceptance, the eagerness which time and
again they exhibited in providing the means for His comfort,
recalled the reverence which the people of Baghdad had shown
Him on so many occasions.[84]
[84 ibid. p. 156. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

Those who have travelled in the deserts or the valleys and uplands of the Middle East on the backs of mules and horses know how slow and monotonous the pace is. For miles there is no sign of life and those who travel in the party are not always able to talk and communicate easily with each other. Under these circumstances nothing can be more exhilarating than to hear a pleasant voice singing beautiful songs. Jinab-i-Munib was one of those whose melodious voice, chanting various odes and poems, rang out through the open fields and mountains of Turkey and brought joy and relaxation to those who travelled with Bahá'u'lláh. The odes that he sang were all indicative of his love for Bahá'u'lláh, and the prayers he chanted in the dead of night were a testimony to the yearning of his heart for his Lord.

 74 

On this journey many undesirable problems had to be dealt with, apart from providing food and shelter for a large party of men, women and children, and the daily feeding of mules and horses. The organization of such tasks was undertaken by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who chose a number of men to assist him in carrying out various duties. Aqa Mirza Mahmud of Kashan, together with Aqa Rida of Shiraz, went all the way to the port of Samsun ahead of the howdah of Bahá'u'lláh. They would arrive at each halting place hours before the party and would take up the task of preparing and cooking the food for everyone. These two souls were so dedicated that, in spite of the fatigue and rigours of the journey, they were constantly engaged until midnight in serving the friends with great devotion. Not only did they cook the meals and wash the dishes but they ensured that every person was comfortable and had sufficient rest. They were the last to retire at night and the first to arise in the morning, rendering this vital service with an exemplary dedication each day of the journey from Baghdad to Constantinople.

Yet another person who performed a difficult task on this journey was the learned divine Mirza Ja'far-i-Yazdi. In spite of his great learning he was humble and self-effacing and for some time served in the household of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad. On the way to Constantinople he served the friends in every possible manner. While everyone was resting or sleeping at a stopping-place, Mirza Ja'far and 'Abdu'l-Bahá would go to surrounding villages to purchase straw and other provisions for the mules and horses. Sometimes this would take hours as there was a famine in the area and it was very difficult to obtain food.

Another soul who was truly enamoured of Bahá'u'lláh was Darvish Sidq-'Ali. He begged Bahá'u'lláh to allow him to join the party travelling to Constantinople and when permission was granted he undertook to serve as groom on the journey. He would walk all day beside the convoy, singing poems which brought joy to the friends, and at night would attend to the horses.

There were others also who carried out various duties with the utmost devotion and self-sacrifice.[*] Apart from the notorious Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani who travelled with Bahá'u'lláh and Mirza Yahya, who joined Him on the way, the disciples of Bahá'u'lláh, as always, demonstrated such love, devotion and humility towards Him as no pen can ever describe. The inestimable privilege conferred upon them of accompanying Him to Constantinople completely overwhelmed them. They were so inspired with joy and contentment that  75  the hardships of the journey, whether on foot or by mule, had very little effect upon their health.
[* For more information see Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1].

The marks of respect and veneration shown to Bahá'u'lláh by the people along the way continued until He reached the port of Samsun. From there He travelled by sea to Constantinople, a journey recounted by Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By:

In Samsun the Chief Inspector of the entire province, extending
from Baghdad to Constantinople, accompanied by several pashas,
called on Him, showed Him the utmost respect, and was entertained
by Him at luncheon. But seven days after His arrival, He,
as foreshadowed in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, was put on
board a Turkish steamer and three days later was disembarked,
at noon, together with His fellow-exiles, at the port of Constantinople,
on the first of Rabi'u'l-Avval 1280 A.H. (August 16, 1863).
In two special carriages, which awaited Him at the landing-stage,
He and His family drove to the house of Shamsi Big, the official
who had been appointed by the government to entertain its guests,
and who lived in the vicinity of the Khirqiy-i-Sharif mosque. Later
they were transferred to the more commodious house of Visi Pasha
in the neighbourhood of the mosque of Sultan Muhammad.[85]
[85 ibid. p. 157. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

Bahá'u'lláh in Constantinople

The arrival of Bahá'u'lláh in Constantinople, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, marks a significant milestone in the unfoldment of His mission. It was during His sojourn in the capital that the conciliatory attitude of the authorities changed to one of hostility as a direct consequence of the intrigues and misrepresentations of Haji Mirza Husayn Khan, the Mushiru'd-Dawlih, the Persian ambassador. It was also during the same eventful period that the initial phase of the proclamation of the message of Bahá'u'lláh to the kings and rulers of the world was ushered in by the revelation of a Tablet addressed to Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz and his ministers, sternly rebuking them for their actions against the new-born Faith of God and its leader.

The house of Visi Pasha, like most houses in those days, consisted of an inner and an outer apartment. Each consisted of three storeys. Bahá'u'lláh resided in the inner section on the first floor and His family occupied the remainder. In the outer apartment, 'Abdu'l-Bahá lived on the first floor, the believers on the ground floor and the top floor was turned into a store and a kitchen.

Shamsi Big, on behalf of the government, would call every morning and attend to any matter pertaining to the needs and well-being of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions. In the courtyard a tent was pitched  76  for two Christian servants sent by the government to attend to shopping and various other duties.

Several eminent personalities, including state ministers, called on Bahá'u'lláh to pay their respects to Him. Among them was Kamal Pasha, a former Sadr-i-A'zam (prime minister), who was at that time one of the ministers of the Sultan. He knew several languages well and prided himself on this accomplishment.

Now that Bahá'u'lláh was in Constantinople, the Persian ambassador was making a desperate bid to misrepresent Him to the authorities and thereby secure their support for banishing Him further. The day after Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in Constantinople, the ambassador sent Prince Shuja'u'd-Dawlih and Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Safa, the two most prominent men in his circle, to call on Bahá'u'lláh on his behalf. He expected that Bahá'u'lláh would return the call and see him in person but he soon found that this was not going to happen. In those days it was customary for prominent guests of the government, soon after their arrival in the capital, to call on the prime minister and other high-ranking officials. It was on the occasion of these visits that people solicited all kinds of favours, made deals and secured the support of the authorities for themselves. Bahá'u'lláh refused to do this and did not even return the visits of some of the Sultan's ministers who had already called on Him to pay their respects.

Kamal Pasha and a few others went so far as to remind Bahá'u'lláh of this custom. Bahá'u'lláh responded by saying that He was aware of the practice but had no demands to make of anyone nor did He require favours from them; therefore there was no reason for Him to call.

This attitude of detachment played into the hands of the Persian ambassador who introduced Bahá'u'lláh to the Sublime Porte as one who was arrogant and proud, considering Himself subject to no law. The ambassador did this mainly through the influence of Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Safa. At last the machinations of the Persian ambassador yielded their fruit. 'Ali Pasha the prime minister, presented a report to the Sultan informing him of the Persian government's request that Bahá'u'lláh be banished either to Boursa or Adrianople. He asked the Sultan's approval for banishment to Adrianople and suggested that an allowance of 5,000 qurush per month be given to Bahá'u'lláh for subsistence, adding that during His stay in Constantinople He had been a guest of the government. He also enclosed the list of all those who had accompanied Him from Baghdad to Constantinople.

Immediately upon receipt of this report the Sultan endorsed these measures and the edict was issued the following day. Shoghi Effendi has summarized the events leading to Bahá'u'lláh's further banishment in these words:

 77 
No less a personage than the highly-respected brother-in-law of
the Sadr-i-A'zam was commissioned to apprise the Captive of the
edict pronounced against Him -- an edict which evinced a virtual
coalition of the Turkish and Persian imperial governments against
a common adversary, and which in the end brought such tragic
consequences upon the Sultanate, the Caliphate and the Qajar
dynasty. Refused an audience by Bahá'u'lláh that envoy had to
content himself with a presentation of his puerile observations and
trivial arguments to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Aqay-i-Kalim, who were
delegated to see him, and whom he informed that., after three days,
he would return to receive the answer to the order he had been
bidden to transmit.

That same day a Tablet, severely condemnatory in tone, was
revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, was entrusted by Him, in a sealed envelope,
on the following morning, to Shamsi Big, who was instructed
to deliver it into the hands of 'Ali Pasha, and to say that it was sent
down from God. 'I know not what that letter contained,' Shamsi
Big subsequently informed Aqay-i-Kalim, 'for no sooner had the
Grand Vizir perused it than he turned the colour of a corpse, and
remarked: "It is as if the King of Kings were issuing his behest to
his humblest vassal king and regulating his conduct." So grievous
was his condition that I backed out of his presence.' 'Whatever
action,' Bahá'u'lláh, commenting on the effect that Tablet had
produced, is reported to have stated, 'the ministers of the Sultan
took against Us, after having become acquainted with its contents,
cannot be regarded as unjustifiable. The acts they committed
before its perusal, however, can have no justification.'

That Tablet, according to Nabil, was of considerable length,
opened with words directed to the sovereign himself, severely
censured his ministers, exposed their immaturity and incompetence,
and included passages in which the ministers themselves
were addressed, in which they were boldly challenged, and sternly
admonished not to pride themselves on their worldly possessions,
nor foolishly seek the riches of which time would inexorably rob
them.

Bahá'u'lláh was on the eve of His departure, which followed
almost immediately upon the promulgation of the edict of His
banishment, when, in a last and memorable interview with the
afore-mentioned Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Safa, He sent the following
message to the Persian Ambassador: 'What did it profit thee, and
such as are like thee, to slay, year after year, so many of the oppressed,
and to inflict upon them manifold afflictions, when they
increased a hundredfold, and ye find yourselves in complete
bewilderment, knowing not how to relieve your minds of this
oppressive thought... His Cause transcends any and every plan
ye devise. Know this much: Were all the governments on earth to
unite and take My life and the lives of all who bear this Name, this
Divine Fire would never be quenched. His Cause will rather
encompass all the kings of the earth, nay all that hath been created
 78 
from water and clay... Whatever may yet befall Us, great shall be
our gain, and manifest the loss wherewith they shall be afflicted.'[86]
[86 ibid. pp. 159-61. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

In one of the coldest Decembers that Turkey had seen for years, Bahá'u'lláh and, His family -- including His two faithful brothers Mirza Musa, entitled Aqay-i-Kalim, and Mirza Muhammad-Quli, together with Mirza Yahya[*] -- set out on their journey to the city of Adrianople. The officer commissioned to take charge of the journey was 'Ali Big Yuz-Bashi. According to a statement by Mirza Aqa Jan, it appears that Bahá'u'lláh was accompanied by 12 of His companions. Among them was the notorious Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani, whose evil spirit was increasingly casting its shadow upon the exiles. Through his satanic influence he brought much pain and anguish to their hearts and created severe tests and trials for them.
[* On leaving Baghdad he had acquired a passport in the name of Mirza 'Ali, a newly assumed name. During his sojourn in Adrianople and later in Cyprus, the authorities referred to him by this name.]

In the Suriy-i-Mulúk, addressing Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, Bahá'u'lláh speaks of His arrival in the city of Constantinople in conspicuous glory and His departure 'with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare'.[87] He also describes the manner in which He and His loved ones were banished to Adrianople and the sufferings they were made to endure both on their way to that city and on their arrival there. These are some of His words: 'Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me, had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather,' and 'The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person.'[88]
[87 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 161. (God Passes By.)]
[88 ibid. (Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in God Passes By, p. 161.)]

The circumstances of Bahá'u'lláh's banishment were tragic as well as humiliating. The authorities did not give Him and His party adequate time to prepare themselves for this long and hazardous journey. The weather was unusually cold, many rivers were frozen and the only way to obtain water on the journey was by lighting a fire and melting ice. The members of the party, which included women and children, were inadequately clad, yet some of them were made to ride in wagons normally used for carrying goods, while others had to ride on animals. Of this journey Shoghi Effendi writes:

e that a great many people were magnetized by Him and were deeply affected by His peerless and exalted character. That a prisoner and an exile could exert such abiding influence upon both high and low is one of the evidences of His divine power and a sign of His authority as the Supreme Manifestation of God.

In spite of the hardships and rigours of yet another exile, the outpourings of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh continued unabated in Adrianople. In one of his writings dated 17th Jamadi 1281 A.H. (19  80  October 1864), Mirza Aqa Jan has testified that from Bahá'u'lláh's time in Iraq up to that day, Tablets had been sent down successively and unceasingly from the heaven of the Will of God. This process acquired still greater momentum in Adrianople. From the tone of these Tablets it became clear that the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh had already entered a new phase and that He, who in previous years had only alluded to His station, was now openly summoning the believers to Himself as the Supreme Manifestation of God.

The five years that Bahá'u'lláh spent in Constantinople and Adrianople may be regarded as one of the most eventful and momentous times in His ministry. In this short period the sun of His Revelation mounted to its zenith and, in the plenitude of its splendour, shed its radiance upon all mankind. This was also a most turbulent period in which He bore with much resignation and fortitude the pains, the betrayals and calamities heaped upon Him by His unfaithful brother Mirza Yahya who broke the Covenant of the Báb and rose up in rebellion against the One whom the world had wronged. Shoghi Effendi describes the outpourings of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation in these words:

A period of prodigious activity ensued which, in its repercussions,
outshone the vernal years of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry. 'Day and
night,' an eye-witness has written, 'the Divine verses were raining
down in such number that it was impossible to record them. Mirza
Aqa Jan wrote them as they were dictated, while the Most Great
Branch was continually occupied in transcribing them. There was
not a moment to spare.' 'A number of secretaries,' Nabil has
testified, 'were busy day and night and yet they were unable to cope
with the task. Among them was Mirza Baqir-i-Shirazi... He alone
transcribed no less than two thousand verses every day. He laboured
during six or seven months. Every month the equivalent
of several volumes would be transcribed by him and sent to Persia.
About twenty volumes, in his fine penmanship, he left behind as
a remembrance for Mirza Aqa Jan' Bahá'u'lláh, Himself, referring
to the verses revealed by Him, has written: 'Such are the outpourings
... from the clouds of Divine Bounty that within the space of
an hour the equivalent of a thousand verses hath been revealed.'
'So great is the grace vouchsafed in this day that in a single day
and night, were an amanuensis capable of accomplishing it to be
found, the equivalent of the Persian Bayan would be sent down
from the heaven of Divine holiness.' 'I swear by God!' He, in
another connection has affirmed, 'In those days the equivalent of
all that hath been sent down aforetime unto the Prophets hath
been revealed.' 'That which hath already been revealed in this land
(Adrianople),' He, furthermore, referring to the copiousness of His
writings, has declared, 'secretaries are incapable of transcribing.
It has, therefore, remained for the most part untranscribed.'[90]
[90 ibid. pp. 170-l. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

 81 

During Bahá'u'lláh's sojourn in Adrianople the proclamation of His message to the kings was made. He addressed the Suriy-i-Mulúk to the kings of the world collectively. He revealed the Lawh-i-Sultán for Násiri'd-Dín Sháh -- a Tablet sent to him from 'Akká. He also addressed His first Tablet to Napoleon III. The first Suriy-i-Ra'is addressed to 'Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizir of the Sultan, was revealed on the way to the port of Gallipoli. And finally, the proclamation of His message reached its consummation when in 'Akká He revealed individual Tablets to certain monarchs and ecclesiastical leaders.[*]
[* For more information about Bahá'u'lláh's proclamation to the kings and rulers see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vols. 2, 3 and 4.]

While the foundations of the Cause of God were being strengthened through the outpouring of revelation in Adrianople, a crisis of unprecedented severity -- namely the rebellion of Mirza Yahya -- overtook the Faith and shook it to its roots. This act of treachery created a major internal convulsion in the Faith and brought untold suffering to Bahá'u'lláh, which left its mark on His person until the end of His life.

Neither the proclamation of the Cause nor the internal disruption it was undergoing escaped the attention of Bahá'u'lláh's enemies in the capital city. The revelation of so many important Tablets and the proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh's message to the kings and rulers of the world had endowed the Faith with such ascendancy that by the summer of 1868 the authorities in Constantinople had become apprehensive of its rising prestige and power. The exaggerated reports and ,calumnies of Mirza Yahya, Siyyid Muhammad and his accomplice Aqa Jan,[**] together with further representations by the Persian ambassador to the Sublime Porte, induced the Ottoman government to remove the author of such a dynamic Faith from the mainland and sentence Him to solitary confinement in a far-off prison.
[** He was known as 'Kaj Kula', a retired officer in the Turkish army.]

The authorities in Constantinople were alarmed by the news that several outstanding personalities, including Khurshid Pasha, the Governor of Adrianople, were among the fervent admirers of Bahá'u'lláh, were frequenting His house and were showing Him veneration worthy of a king. They knew that the consuls of foreign governments had also been attracted to Him and often spoke about His greatness. The movement of many pilgrims in and out of Adrianople further aggravated the situation. Fu'ad Pasha, the Turkish foreign minister, passed through Adrianople, made a tour of inspection and submitted exaggerated reports about the status and activities of the community.  82  Furthermore, a few among the authorities had come across some of Bahá'u'lláh's writings and had become aware of His stupendous claims. All these were important factors in deciding the fate of Bahá'u'lláh and His companions.

Those mainly responsible for Bahá'u'lláh's final banishment were the prime minister, 'Ali Pasha, the foreign minister, Fu'ad Pasha, and the Persian ambassador, Haji Mirza Husayn Khan (the Mushiru'd-Dawlih). These three worked together closely until they succeeded in their efforts to banish Bahá'u'lláh to 'Akká and to impose on Him life imprisonment there. 'Ali Pasha secured from Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz an imperial edict dated 5th Rabi'u'l-Akhir 1285 A.H. (26 July 1868) ordering Bahá'u'lláh's exile to the fortress of 'Akká and His life imprisonment within the walls of that prison city. In the same edict five others, mentioned by name, were to be exiled with Him. They were the two faithful brothers of Bahá'u'lláh, Aqay-i-Kalim and Mirza Muhammad-Quli; His faithful servant Darvish Sidq-'Ali; the Antichrist of the Bahá'í Revelation Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani; and his accomplice Aqa Jan Kaj Kulah. Mirza Yahya was condemned to life imprisonment in Famagusta along with four of Bahá'u'lláh's followers: Mirza Husayn entitled Mishkin Qalam, 'Aliy-i-Sayyah, Muhammad-Baqir-i-Qahvih-chi and 'Abdu'l-Ghaffar.

Strict orders were issued in the edict to the authorities in 'Akká directing them to accommodate the prisoners inside a house in the fortress, to guard it most effectively and to ensure that the exiles did not associate with anyone.

When Khurshid Pasha the Governor of Adrianople, was informed of the edict and learned of Bahá'u'lláh's immediate banishment he knew that he could not bring himself to notify Bahá'u'lláh of the contents of the Sultan's order. He was so embarrassed that he absented himself from his office and left the task to the registrar.

Shoghi Effendi has briefly described Bahá'u'lláh's departure from Adrianople:

On the twenty-second of the month of Rabi'u'th-Thani 1285 A.H.
(August 12, 1868) Bahá'u'lláh and His family, escorted by a
Turkish captain, Hasan Effendi by name, and other soldiers
appointed by the local government, set out on their four-day
journey to Gallipoli, riding in carriages and stopping on their way
at Uzun-Kupru and Kashanih, at which latter place the Suriy-i-Ra'is
was revealed. 'The inhabitants of the quarter in which
Bahá'u'lláh had been living, and the neighbours who had gathered
to bid Him farewell, came one after the other,' writes an eye-witness,
'with the utmost sadness and regret to kiss His hands and
the hem of His robe, expressing meanwhile their sorrow at His
departure. That day, too, was a strange day. Methinks the city, its
 83 
walls and its gates bemoaned their imminent separation from
Him.' 'On that day,' writes another eye-witness, 'there was a
wonderful concourse of Muslims and Christians at the door of our
Master's house. The hour of departure was a memorable one. Most
of those present were weeping and wailing, especially the Christians.'
'Say,' Bahá'u'lláh Himself declares in the Suriy-i-Ra'is, 'this
Youth hath departed out of this country and deposited beneath
every tree and every stone a trust, which God will erelong bring
forth through the power of truth.'

Several of the companions who had been brought from
Constantinople were awaiting them in Gallipoli. On his arrival
Bahá'u'lláh made the following pronouncement to Hasan Effendi,
who, his duty discharged, was taking his leave: 'Tell the king that
this territory will pass out of his hands, and his affairs will be
thrown into confusion.' 'To this,' Aqa Rida the recorder of that
scene has written, 'Bahá'u'lláh furthermore added: "Not I speak
these words, but God speaketh them." In those moments He was
uttering verses which we, who were downstairs, could overhear.
They were spoken with such vehemence and power that, methinks,
the foundations of the house itself trembled.'

Even in Gallipoli, where three nights were spent, no one knew
what Bahá'u'lláh's destination would be. Some believed that He P
and His brothers would be banished to one place, and the
remainder dispersed, and sent into exile. Others thought that His
companions would be sent back to Persia, while still others expected
their immediate extermination. The government's original
order was to banish Bahá'u'lláh, Aqay-i-Kalim and Mirza Muhammad-Quli
with a servant to 'Akká, while the rest were to proceed
to Constantinople. This order, which provoked scenes of indescribable
distress, was, however, at the insistence of Bahá'u'lláh, and
by the instrumentality of 'Umar Effendi, a major appointed to
accompany the exiles, revoked. It was eventually decided that all
the exiles, numbering about seventy, should be banished to 'Akká.
Instructions were, moreover, issued that a certain number of the
adherents of Mirza Yahya, among whom were Siyyid Muhammad
and Aqa Jan, should accompany these exiles, whilst four of the
companions of Bahá'u'lláh were ordered to depart with the Azalis
for Cyprus.

So grievous were the dangers and trials confronting Bahá'u'lláh
at the hour of His departure from Gallipoli that He warned His
companions that 'this journey will be unlike any of the previous
journeys,' and that whoever did not feel himself 'man enough to
face the future' had best 'depart to whatever place he pleaseth, and
be preserved from tests, for hereafter he will find himself unable
to leave' -- a warning which His companions unanimously chose
to disregard.

On the morning of the 2nd of Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1285 A.H.
(August 21,1868) they all embarked in an Austrian-Lloyd steamer
for Alexandria, touching at Madelli, and stopping for two days at
 84 
Smyrna, where Jinab-i-Munir, surnamed Ismu'llahu'l-Munib,
became gravely ill, and had, to his great distress, to be left behind
in a hospital where he soon after died. In Alexandria they transshipped
into a steamer of the same company, bound for Haifa,
where, after brief stops at Port Said and Jaffa, they landed, setting
out, a few hours later, in a sailing vessel, for 'Akká, where they
disembarked, in the course of the afternoon of the 12th of
Jamadiyu'l-Avval 1285 A.H. (August 31, 1868). It was at the
moment when Bahá'u'lláh had stepped into the boat which was to
carry Him to the landing-stage in Haifa that 'Abdu'l-Ghaffar, one
of the four companions condemned to share the exile of Mirza
Yahya, and whose 'detachment, love and trust in God' Bahá'u'lláh
had greatly praised, cast himself, in his despair, into the sea,
shouting 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha', and was subsequently rescued and
resuscitated with the greatest difficulty, only to be forced by adamant
officials to continue his voyage, with Mirza Yahya's party, to
the destination originally appointed for him. [91]
[91 ibid. pp. 180-2. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká

Bahá'u'lláh's journey from Adrianople to 'Akká was laden with enormous hardship and suffering. It once again highlighted the abasement to which Bahá'u'lláh and His companions were subjected and the indignities heaped upon Him by the actions of His enemies. When He arrived in the prison of 'Akká these sufferings were intensified to such an extent that He designated that city as the 'Most Great Prison'. Referring to the first nine years of His exile in 'Akká, the Pen of the Most High has recorded these moving words in one of His Tablets:

Know thou that upon Our arrival at this Spot, We chose to designate
it as the 'Most Great Prison'. Though previously subjected in
another land (Tihran) to chains and fetters, We yet refused to call
it by that name. Say: Ponder thereon, O ye endued with under-standing![92]
[92 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 185. (God Passes By)]

At Haifa, Bahá'u'lláh and His companions -- 70 in all -- disembarked from the ship in sailing boats.[*] All their belongings were also ferried across with them. There, the prisoners were all counted and handed over to government officials. A few hours later they were all taken aboard a sailing vessel which took them to 'Akká in the afternoon of  85  the same day. As there were no landing facilities at 'Akká, the men had to wade ashore from the boat and the women were to be carried on the backs of men. But at 'Abdu'l-Bahá's insistence the women were carried ashore one by one, seated on a chair which He Himself procured.
[* According to the shipping records, the Austrian Lloyd steamer was due to leave Alexandria at 11 a.m. on Friday, arriving at Port Said on Saturday at 5 p.m., at Jaffa on Sunday at 6 p.m., at Haifa on Monday at 8 a.m. and in Cyprus at noon two days later.]

When Bahá'u'lláh arrived in 'Akká the city was a penal colony. Its population in the 1880s was estimated to be about nine thousand. The Turkish government had consigned to it from its vast empire a great number of criminals, murderers, political detainees and every type of troublemaker. The inhabitants, whom Bahá'u'lláh had stigmatized as the 'generation of vipers',[93] had sunk to a very low level. Just prior to the arrival of Bahá'u'lláh and His followers wild rumours and false accusations circulated. The company of exiles, those God-intoxicated heroes who had accompanied their Lord to this most desolate of cities, were considered to be evil men, criminals of the worst type who deserved to be treated most cruelly. Great numbers from among the inhabitants of 'Akká assembled at the landing site to jeer at them and at their leader, to whom they referred as 'the God of the Persians'.
[93 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 345.]

Yet among the crowd there were some endowed with a measure of spiritual perception. These, as they gazed upon the countenance of Bahá'u'lláh, were struck by His majesty and witnessed a glory they had never seen before. Among them was a certain Khalil Ahmad 'Abdu, a venerable old man who used to say to the inhabitants of 'Akká that he could see in the face of Bahá'u'lláh signs of greatness and of majesty and truthfulness. He often said that the people of 'Akká should rejoice and be thankful to God for having ennobled their homeland by the footsteps of this great personage. He prophesied that through Him the inhabitants would be blessed and prosper, and this, of course, literally came to pass.

How incomparable is the difference between the vision of those assembled at the sea gate of 'Akká to jeer at the company of exiles and their leader, and the vision of Bahá'u'lláh. A few years before, in the Tablet of Sayyah foreshadowing His arrival in the city of 'Akká He had disclosed to those endowed with spiritual insight a vastly different spectacle:

Upon Our arrival We were welcomed with banners of light, whereupon
the Voice of the Spirit cried out saying: 'Soon will all that
dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners.'[94]
[94 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 184.]

The reaction of these onlookers, blind to the world of the spirit and the all-encompassing vision of Bahá'u'lláh, is characteristic of man's attitude to the Revelation of God in every age. Over one hundred years have passed since Bahá'u'lláh uttered these words. The majority  86  of mankind, its rulers and wise men, have so far failed to recognize their truth, either remaining unaware of the coming of the Lord or turning a deaf ear to His voice. But those who have embraced His Cause believe in the vision of their Lord that 'soon will all that dwell on earth be enlisted under these banners'.

Bahá'u'lláh and His party entered 'Akká through the sea gate and were conducted to the barracks along the city's narrow and twisting streets. The hardships of the long and arduous journey from Adrianople to 'Akká in the burning heat of the midsummer season, with inadequate and primitive facilities on board the crowded ships, had exhausted everyone. Now, added to all this were the appalling conditions of their confinement in the barracks, especially during the first night after their arrival. Bahá'u'lláh was placed in a filthy room that was completely bare. Later He was moved into a room on the upper floor of the barracks; this room, the interior of which is now kept in good condition and visited by Bahá'í pilgrims, was in the days of Bahá'u'lláh unfit for habitation. He Himself has recounted in a Tablet that its floor was covered with earth and what plaster remained on the ceiling was falling.

Bahá'u'lláh's followers were huddled into another room, the floor of which was covered with mud. Ten soldiers were posted at the gate to guard the prisoners. The foul air and the stench in the prison, coupled with the sultry heat of the summer, were so offensive that on arrival Bahiyyih Khanum, the daughter of Bahá'u'lláh entitled the 'Greatest Holy Leaf', was overcome and fainted.

There was no drinking water except that in a small pool which had already been used for washing and was so filthy that the mere thought of drinking it would make one sick. That first night, in those hot surroundings when everyone was so thirsty that some of the women and children were overcome, water was withheld from the prisoners. Mothers with suckling babes were unable to feed them and for hours the children cried for food and water. 'Abdu'l-Bahá made several appeals to the guards to show mercy to the children and even sent a message to the governor of 'Akká but to no avail. At last in the morning some water was given to the prisoners and each received three loaves of bread as a daily ration. The bread was unfit to eat but after some time they were allowed to take it to the market and exchange it for two loaves of a better quality.

leled in the annals of past religions and which exerted a most potent and electrifying influence upon friend and foe alike.

The laws of the Bayan were promulgated for the sake of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. The aim of the Báb in revealing the laws of His Dispensation was to edify the souls of His followers and mould their conduct so they would be worthy to embrace the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. In the Kitáb-i-Asma', one of His celebrated writings, He reveals these thought-provoking words:

But for the sole reason of His being present amongst this people,
We would have neither prescribed any law nor laid down any
prohibition. It is only for the glorification of His Name and the
 99 
exaltation of His Cause that We have enunciated certain laws at
Our behest, or forbidden the acts to which We are averse, so that
at the hour of His manifestation ye may attain through Him the
good-pleasure of God and abstain from the things that are abhorrent
unto Him.[104]
[104 The Báb, Selections, p. 149.]

The Covenant that the Báb made with His followers concerning 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' was firm and irrevocable. Because His advent was unquestionable, assured as the midday sun, the Báb did not appoint a successor. Instead, He appointed Mirza Yahya as the leader of the community until the advent of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. So real was His advent that the Báb in the early days of His Revelation in Shiraz despatched Mulla Husayn, the first to believe in the Báb, to Tihran for the sole purpose of searching for and establishing contact with 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', the One who was the source of the Revelation of the Báb, the object of His adoration and the One in whose path He longed to lay down His life.

Innumerable are the passages in the Báb's writings in which He extols the station of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', portrays His person as majestic, awe-inspiring, incomparable and infinitely glorious, describes the inconceivable greatness of His Revelation, regards Himself as the lowliest servant of His threshold, recognizes Him as the Source of His own Revelation and the object of His adoration and cherishes the desire to lay down His life in His path. Indeed, no Manifestation of God has ever made such a mighty Covenant with His followers regarding the Manifestation who was to follow. The following passages from the writings of the Báb are among those that reveal the greatness of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and the exalted station of its author. He writes:

Of ail the tributes I have paid to Him who is to come after Me, the
greatest is this, My written confession, that no words of Mine can
adequately describe Him, nor can any reference to Him in My
Book, the Bayan, do justice to His Cause.[105]
[105 The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 100.]

The Báb has clearly stated to His followers that His Revelation is entirely dependent upon 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' and that He is only a servant at His threshold. In His Qayyúmu'l-Asmá', the first emanations of His pen, the Báb communes with Bahá'u'lláh in these words:

Out of utter nothingness, O great and omnipotent Master, Thou
hast, through the celestial potency of Thy might, brought me forth
 100 
and raised me up to proclaim this Revelation. I have made none
other but Thee my trust; I have clung to no will but Thy will...[106]
[106 ibid. (The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 100.)]

And in the same book He craves for martyrdom in the path of Bahá'u'lláh, whom He addresses as the 'Remnant of God'.

...O Thou Remnant of God! I have sacrificed myself wholly for
Thee; I have accepted curses for Thy sake, and have yearned for
naught but martyrdom in the path of Thy love. Sufficient witness
unto me is God, the Exalted, the Protector, the Ancient of Days.[107]
[107 ibid. (The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 100.)]

In a Tablet addressed to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', the Báb writes:

This is an epistle from this lowly servant to the All-Glorious Lord
 -- He Who hath been aforetime and will be hereafter made manifest.
Verily He is the Most Manifest, the Almighty.[108]
[108 The Báb, Selections, p. 3.]

There are many passages in the writings of the Báb in which He states that He will be the first to acknowledge the Cause of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' and bow before Him as a lowly servant. A few examples follow:

Were He to appear this very moment, I would be the first to adore
Him, and the first to bow down before Him.[109]
[109 The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 171.]

'I, verily, am a believer in Him, and in His Faith, and in His Book,
and in His Testimonies, and in His Ways, and all that proceed
from Him concerning them. I glory in My kinship with Him, and
pride Myself on My belief in Him.' And likewise, He saith: 'O
congregation of the Bayan and all who are therein! Recognize ye
the limits imposed upon you, for such a One as the Point of the
Bayan Himself hath believed in Him Whom God shall make
manifest, before all things were created. Therein, verily, do I glory
before all who are in the kingdom of heaven and earth.'[110]
[110 ibid. p. 154. (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the
Wolf.)]

'The whole of the Bayan is only a leaf amongst the leaves of His
Paradise.' And likewise, He saith: 'I am the first to adore Him, and
pride Myself on My kinship with Him.'[111]
[111 ibid. p. 158. (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the
Wolf.)]

The following are utterances of the Báb gleaned from His various writings as He extols the person of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. In the Persian Bayan, the Báb states that 'He Whom God shall make manifest', as the Mouthpiece of God, will proclaim:

 101 
Verily, verily, I am God, no God is there but Me; in truth all others
except Me are My creatures. Say, O My creatures! Me alone,
therefore, should ye fear.[112]
[112 The Báb, Selections, p. 98.]

and again:

He, verily is the One Who, under all conditions, proclaimeth: 'I,
in very truth, am God.[113]
[113 The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf , pp 154-5.]

The glory of Him Whom God shall make manifest is immeasurably
above every other glory, and His majesty is far above every other
majesty. His beauty excelleth every other embodiment of beauty,
and His grandeur immensely exceedeth every other manifestation
of grandeur. Every light paleth before the radiance of His light,
and every other exponent of mercy falleth short before the tokens
of His mercy. Every other perfection is as naught in the face of His
consummate perfection, and every other display of might is as
nothing before His absolute might. His names are superior to all
other names. His good-pleasure taketh precedence over any other
expression of good-pleasure. His pre-eminent exaltation is far
above the reach of every other symbol of exaltation. The splendour
of His appearance far surpasses that of any other appearance. His
divine concealment is far mote profound than any other concealment.
His loftiness is immeasurably above every other loftiness.
His gracious favour is unequalled by any other evidence of favour.
His power transcendeth every power. His sovereignty is invincible
in the face of every other sovereignty. His celestial dominion is
exalted far above every other dominion. His knowledge pervadeth
all created things, and His consummate power extendeth over all
beings.[114]
[114 The Báb, Selections, p. 157.]

If ye seek God, it behooveth you to seek Him Whom God shall
make manifest...[115]
[115 ibid. p. 131. (The Báb, Selections.)]

Similarly He states:

From the beginning that hath no beginning all men have bowed
in adoration before Him Whom God shall make manifest and will
continue to do so until the end that hath no end. How strange then
that at the time of His appearance ye should pay homage by day
and night unto that which the Point of the Bayan hath enjoined
upon you and yet fail to worship Him Whom God shall make
manifest.[116]
[116 ibid. p. 155. (The Báb, Selections.)]

In the Persian Bayan the Báb states that attaining unto the presence of God as promised in the Holy Books would be none other than attaining the presence of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', for man has no access to the Essence of God.[117] In another  102  passage'[118] He mentions Bahá'u'lláh by name and categorically states that He is the 'Primal Will' of God. In several other instances the Báb refers to Bahá'u'lláh by name. In a celebrated passage in the Persian Bayan He states:
[117 The Báb, Persian Bayan, III, 7.]
[118 ibid. III, 15. (The Báb, Persian Bayan.)]

Well is it with him who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh,
and rendereth thanks unto his Lord. For He will assuredly
be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the
Bayan.[119]
[119 The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 25.]

The Báb considered His own Revelation to be a gift to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. These are some of His utterances concerning the Bayan, the Mother Book of the Bábí Dispensation:

Suffer not yourselves to be shut out as by a veil from God after He
bath revealed Himself For all that hath been exalted in the Bayan
is but as a ring upon My hand, and I Myself am, verily, but a ring
upon the hand of Him Whom God shall make manifest -- glorified
be His mention! He turneth it as He pleaseth, for whatsoever He
pleaseth, and through whatsoever He pleaseth. He, verily, is the
Help in Peril, the Most High.[120]
[120 The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 154-5.]

The whole of the Bayan is only a leaf amongst the leaves of His
Paradise.[121]
[121 ibid., p. 152. (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.)]

The Bayan is from beginning to end the repository of all of His
attributes, and the treasury of both His fire and His light.[122]
[122 ibid, p. 174. (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.)]

I swear by the most holy Essence of God -- exalted and glorified
be He -- that in the Day of the appearance of Him Whom God shall
make manifest a thousand perusals of the Bayan cannot equal the
perusal of a single verse to be revealed by Him Whom God shall
make manifest.[123]
[123 The Báb, Selections, p. 104.]

I swear by the most sacred Essence of God that but one line of the
Words uttered by Him is more sublime than the words uttered by
all that dwell on earth. Nay, I beg forgiveness for making this
comparison. How could the reflections of the sun in the mirror
compare with the wondrous rays of the sun in the visible heaven?[124]
[124 ibid. p. 100. (The Báb, Selections.)]

The year-old germ that holdeth within itself the potentialities of
the Revelation that is to come is endowed with a potency superior
to the combined forces of the whole of the Bayan.[125]
[125 The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 151.)]

In a Tablet to Mulla Baqir, a Letter of the Living, the Báb testifies, in these words, to the exalted character of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest':

 103 
I have written down in My mention of Him these gem-like words:
'No allusion of Mine can allude unto Him, neither anything
mentioned in the Bayan' ... 'Exalted and glorified is He above
the power of any one to reveal Him except Himself, or the description
of any of His creatures. I Myself am but the first servant to
believe in Him and in His signs, and to partake of the sweet
savours of His words from the first-fruits of the Paradise of His
knowledge. Yea, by His glory! He is the Truth. There is none other
God but Him. All have risen at His bidding.'[126]
[126 ibid. p. 141 (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh Epistle to the Son of the
Wolf.)]

The Báb repeatedly gave the year nine as the date of the appearance of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. The declaration of the Báb took place in the year 1260 AH (AD 1844). The year nine is 1269 AH, which began about the middle of October 1852 when Bahá'u'lláh had already been imprisoned for about two months in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran, the scene of the birth of His Revelation. The following are a few passages concerning the year nine:

'In the year nine ye will attain unto all good.' On another occasion
He saith: 'In the year nine ye will attain unto the Presence of
God.[127]
[127 ibid. (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 141.)]

Ere nine will have elapsed from the inception of this Cause, the
realities of the created things will not be made manifest. All that
thou hast as yet seen is but the stage from the moist germ until We
clothed it with flesh. Be patient, until thou beholdest a new creation.
Say: 'Blessed, therefore, be God, the most excellent of
Makers!'[128]
[128 ibid. p. 152. (The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh Epistle to the Son of the Wolf.)]

The Báb also mentioned the year nineteen with regard to the Revelation of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. This is a reference to the public declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad which occurred 19 years after the inception of the Bahá'í Era in 1844:

The Lord of the Day of Reckoning will be manifested at the end
of Vahid (19) and the beginning of eighty (1280 AH).[129]
[129 The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 29.]

Although the Báb has made several references to the years nine and nineteen, nevertheless He makes it abundantly clear that the time of the advent of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest' is entirely in His own hands. Whenever He appears, all must follow Him.

There are innumerable passages in the Báb's writings exhorting His followers to be watchful, and as soon as the Supreme Manifestation of God reveals Himself, to recognize and follow Him immediately He counsels them to allow no doubt to enter their minds when  104  informed of the appearance of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. He warns them repeatedly to beware lest anything in the world, including the Bayan or any other of the Báb's writings, should become a barrier between them and 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'. The following utterance of the Báb, urging His followers to be faithful to 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', is one quotation gleaned from among many:

At the time of the manifestation of Him Whom God shall make
manifest everyone should be well trained in the teachings of the
Bayan, so that none of the followers may outwardly cling to the Bayan
and thus forfeit their allegiance unto Him. If anyone does so, the
verdict of 'disbeliever in God' shall be passed upon Him.[130]
[130 The Báb, Selections, p. 85.]

The Báb enjoined His followers to read once every 19 days chapter VI:8 of the Bayan so that they might prepare themselves for the Revelation of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest':

Beware, beware lest, in the days of His Revelation, the Vahid of
the Bayan (eighteen Letters of the Living) shut thee not out as by
a veil from Him, inasmuch as this Vahid is but a creature in His
sight. And beware, beware that the words sent down in the Bayan
shut thee not out as by a veil from Him.[131]
[131 The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 153.]

 105 
10
The Breaker of the Covenant of the Bab

4-WT ...notwithstanding this, Mirza Yahya denied Him, dealt
falsely with Him, believed Him not, sowed the seeds of doubt,
closed his eyes to His manifest verses and turned aside therefrom.

Shortly after Mirza Yahya had settled in Baghdad he decided to engage in a profession to hide his identity. At first he changed his headgear, adopting a large turban and assuming the name of Haji 'Ali, the Las-Furush[*] He then took a shop in a bazaar in a dilapidated part of the city and started working. In the meantime, a man of great evil, described by Bahá'u'lláh as 'the embodiment of wickedness and impiety', 'the prime mover of mischief' and 'one accursed of God', entered the scene to influence Mirza Yahya. He was the notorious Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani, known as the 'Antichrist of the Bahá'í Revelation'.[132] In the early days of the Faith this man was a student at a theological school in Isfahan but was expelled for reprehensible conduct. He embraced the Faith during the early part of the ministry of the Báb and later went to Karbila where he joined the ranks of the believers. In the Kitáb-i-Íqán Bahá'u'lláh alludes to him as that 'one-eyed man, who ... is arising with the utmost malevolence against Us'.[133] Of him Shoghi Effendi writes:
[* Las-Furush means a dealer in silk. It is interesting that Mirza Yahya was known in official circles as Haji 'Ali until the end of his life.]
[132 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 164.]
[133 Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 248.]

The black-hearted scoundrel who befooled and manipulated this
vain and flaccid man [Mirza Yahya] with consummate skill and
unyielding persistence was a certain Siyyid Muhammad, a native
of Isfahan, notorious for his inordinate ambition, his blind obstinacy
and uncontrollable jealousy. To him Bahá'u'lláh had later
referred in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the one who had 'led astray' Mirza
Yahya and stigmatized him, in one of His Tablets, as the 'source
of envy and the quintessence of mischief', while 'Abdu'l-Bahá had
described the relationship existing between these two as that of 'the
sucking child' to the 'much-prized breast' of its mother.[134]
[134 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 112-13.]

 106 

Siyyid Muhammad was in Karbila when Bahá'u'lláh visited that city in 1851. As soon as he met Bahá'u'lláh, whom he considered as merely another Bábí, he was struck by His authority and majesty, and when he saw the honour and reverence shown to Him by the Bábís and the Shaykhis, he was filled with an uncontrollable envy which never left him till the end of his tragic life.

As already stated, when Bahá'u'lláh was exiled to Iraq in 1853, the Bábís were in great disarray. They were frightened and helpless people who since the martyrdom of the Báb had been driven underground. They did not dare associate with each other in public for fear of being persecuted. When Bahá'u'lláh arrived in Iraq, He inspired them to come out into the open and gradually through His wise and loving leadership the Bábí community acquired a new lease of life. The ascendancy of Bahá'u'lláh in public and His rising prestige intensified the fire of jealousy now burning fiercely in Siyyid Muhammad's heart.

Describing the circumstances in which some of the followers of the Báb in Baghdad recognized the station of Bahá'u'lláh and turned to Him in adoration, Shoghi Effendi recounts the reaction shown by Siyyid Muhammad:

To these evidences of an ever deepening veneration for Bahá'u'lláh
and of a passionate attachment to His person were now being
added further grounds for the outbreak of the pent-up jealousies
which His mounting prestige evoked in the breasts of His ill-wishers
and enemies. The steady extension of the circle of His
acquaintances and admirers; His friendly intercourse with officials
including the governor of the city; the unfeigned homage offered
Him, on so many occasions and so spontaneously, by men who had
once been distinguished companions of Siyyid Kazim; the disillusionment
which the persistent concealment of Mirza Yahya, and
the unflattering reports circulated regarding his character and
abilities, had engendered; the signs of increasing independence,
of innate sagacity and inherent superiority and capacity for leadership
unmistakably exhibited by Bahá'u'lláh Himself -- all combined
to widen the breach which the infamous and crafty Siyyid Muhammad
had sedulously contrived to create.[135]
[135 ibid, p. 117. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By)]

as well aware of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration in the Garden of Ridvan and the Tablets subsequently revealed by Him. But now the time had come for the Supreme Manifestation of God to formally announce His station to the one who was nominated y the Báb to be the leader of His followers until the advent of 'Him Whom God shall make manifest'.

In order to communicate this message to Mirza Yahya, Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Suriy-i-Amr (Surih of Command) in His own handwriting and instructed His amanuensis Mirza Aqa Jan to take the Tablet to Mirza Yahya, read it aloud and demand a conclusive reply from him. On being apprised of the contents of the Tablet and the claims of Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Yahya indicated that he needed some time during which to meditate on the subject. The following day he sent a message to Bahá'u'lláh that he himself had become the recipient of divine Revelation and it was incumbent upon all to obey and follow him.

Such a claim maintained by so perfidious a person evolved the wrath of God and brought about the eventual split between Bahá'u'lláh and Mirza Yahya. It must be remembered that the majority of the believers in Adrianople were faithful to Bahá'u'lláh and until then  121  had associated freely with Mirza Yahya and a small number of his henchmen; now the situation changed.

Mirza Yahya's response to the Suriy-i-Amr- was a clear signal for separation. Bahá'u'lláh, who was then residing in the house of Amru'llah, changed His residence to the house of Rida Big. This was on 10 March 1866. Only the members of His own family and one servant moved to this house and He allowed no one else to attain His presence. As a result, the community of exiles was cut off from His blessed person and left entirely on its own. This withdrawal, similar to His withdrawal to the mountains of Kurdistan a few years earlier, plunged the community into a grievous state and created severe tests and trials for the believers. On the other hand, it afforded each one of the exiles the opportunity to choose between Bahá'u'lláh and His unfaithful brother.

Bahá'u'lláh's faithful followers, those lovers of His beauty, became dispirited. The light had departed from their midst and they were enveloped in a darkness that obscured their vision and left them helpless and disconsolate. Aqay-i-Kalim, Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother who carried the weight of responsibility during Bahá'u'lláh's retirement in the house of Rida Big, recounted to Nabil these words:

That day witnessed a most great commotion. All the companions
lamented in their separation from the Blessed Beauty.[147]
[147 Quoted in ibid. p. 167. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

Another witness to those grievous days has recorded:

Those days were marked by tumult and confusion. We were sore-perplexed
and greatly feared lest we be permanently deprived of
the bounty of His presence.[148]
[148 Quoted in ibid. p. 167. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

Even those who were unfaithful to Bahá'u'lláh were disturbed by His withdrawal, as they knew only too well that it was through His guiding influence that they were living in relative safety and security. These men were now left to their own devices and were soon engulfed in a most troublesome situation created by their own hands.

The retirement of Bahá'u'lláh to the house of Rida Big and His refusal to meet with any of the exiles created a situation in which everyone was left by himself to decide his own spiritual destiny. Those few who were inclined towards Mirza Yahya congregated together and began to launch their attacks on the faithful ones, while the rest occupied their time mostly in prayer and devotions, supplicating God to relieve them of this grievous separation from their Lord. Before taking up residence in the house of Rida Big, Bahá'u'lláh ordered His brother Aqay-i-Kalim to send half of the furniture, bedding  122  and utensils to the house of Mirza Yahya. He also sent him certain historic relics such as the rings of the Báb, His seals and manuscripts. These were the items which the Báb had sent to Bahá'u'lláh prior to His martyrdom and which were coveted by Mirza Yahya. Bahá'u'lláh also asked Darvish Sidq-'Ali, one of His faithful followers, to act as a servant in the household of Mirza Yahya. Although loath to serve the one who was in his sight the embodiment of deceit and falsehood, this devoted soul wholeheartedly obeyed Bahá'u'lláh and engaged himself in Mirza Yahya's service. Soon other circumstances relieved him of this most unpleasant task. As already mentioned, those few individuals who were weak and vacillating in their faith joined Mirza Yahya and, emboldened by the absence of Bahá'u'lláh, began their contemptible activities against the Faith of God.

Mirza Yahya and Siyyid Muhammad started a vigorous letter-writing campaign to discredit Bahá'u'lláh in the eyes of the believers and the authorities. They loaded their letters with lies and disgraceful calumnies, accusing Bahá'u'lláh of the very crimes they themselves had committed, and disseminated them far and wide among the believers in Persia and Iraq. These slanderous letters disturbed the Bábí community and confused many. Some weaker believers lost their faith altogether; a small number were inclined towards Mirza Yahya. A few wrote to Bahá'u'lláh for clarification. As a result several Tablets were revealed in this period describing the true state of affairs. However, the majority of the believers remained faithful to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. These souls arose with determination and dedication to vindicate the truth of the Cause of God. Many of them, such as Nabil-A'zam, Munib and Ahmad-i-Yazdi,[*] who travelled throughout Persia, championed the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and defended it valiantly against the onslaught of the unfaithful.
[* See Taherzadeh, Revelation of vol. 2 for accounts of these two.]

It was through Mirza Yahya's own actions that the news of his infidelity to the Cause of God was effectively communicated to the community in Persia and signalled the permanent rupture between him and his illustrious brother. While Bahá'u'lláh had withdrawn Himself from the community in Adrianople, Siyyid Muhammad and Mirza Yahya were actively engaged in damaging His reputation in government circles. The latter sent a petition to the governor, Khurshid Pasha, and his assistant, 'Aziz Pasha. It was couched in obsequious language, contained false statements about Bahá'u'lláh, and was aimed at discrediting Him in the eyes of the governor who was one of His ardent admirers.

 123 

Later, the governor shared this letter with Bahá'u'lláh and its contents became known to the believers. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali,[*] who arrived in Adrianople a few months after this shameful episode, writes of Mirza Yahya's petition to the authorities in these words:
[* For his story see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2.]

When Azal arose in hostility with his satanic spirit to oppose and
challenge the Blessed Beauty, through calumnies and false accusations, he
wrote a letter to the Governor of Adrianople. We all saw
this letter: It opened with these words: 'May my soul and body be
a sacrifice to thee.' It went on to say: 'O thou 'Aziz ['Aziz Pasha],
we come to you in destitution, grant us some corn.' He continues
falsely to accuse the Ancient Beauty of having cut off his livelihood.

The opening sentence of his letter, the statement of his needs
and the complaints all demonstrate that God cannot be confused
with man, and that there is no likeness between the two. We see
the contrast, for instance, in these words of the Ancient Beauty as
He addressed the late Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz:[**] 'O thou Ra'is [Chief],
hearken to the voice of God, the Supreme Ruler, the Help in Peril,
the Self-Subsisting. He verily calleth between earth and heaven and
summoneth mankind to the scene of effulgent glory.'
[** This Tablet is actually addressed to 'Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizir of the Sultan.]

In this blessed Tablet, Bahá'u'lláh prophesies that the Sultan
will lose his throne and the country will pass out of his hands...
To return to our subject: Bahá'u'lláh had, through an intermediary,
proved to the Governor that these allegations [by Mirza Yahya]
were false and, in a message, explained to him that these calumnies
were designed to hurt and humiliate Him.'[149]
[149 Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 76.]

Concerning these distasteful events, Shoghi Effendi writes:

He [Bahá'u'lláh] was soon after informed that this same brother
[Mirza Yahya] had despatched one of his wives to the government
house to complain that her husband had been cheated of his rights,
and that her children were on the verge of starvation -- an accusation
that spread far and wide and, reaching Constantinople,
became, to Bahá'u'lláh's profound distress, the subject of excited
discussion and injurious comment in circles that had previously
been greatly impressed by the high standard which His noble and
dignified behaviour had set in that city.[150]
[150 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 167-8.]

Some time later in a Tablet[***] to Shaykh Salman, Bahá'u'lláh reveals the agony of His heart during this period and recounts the calumnies  124  of Mirza Yahya concerning his share of the government allowance, which was always divided equitably between the exiles. In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh explains that had it not been for the sake of His companions in exile, He would have never accepted any allowance from the authorities. Indeed, soon after these heart-rending events, Bahá'u'lláh refused to draw this allowance and sometimes had to sell some of His belongings in order to provide for His daily needs.
[*** See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2, ch. 13, and vol. 1, pp. 109-13.]

As a result of the many calumnies which were circulating in Adrianople and were extremely hurtful to Him and His loved ones, Bahá'u'lláh ended His retirement which had lasted about two months and came forward to check the misdeeds of His wicked opponents. It was at this time that Siyyid Muhammad-i-Isfahani was finally and effectively expelled from the community and the parting of Bahá'u'lláh and Mirza Yahya -- referred to as 'the Most Great Separation' -- became official. The two-month withdrawal of Bahá'u'lláh was an act of providence in that it identified the unfaithful. When Bahá'u'lláh emerged every one of the exiles knew to which side he belonged. The few gathered around Mirza Yahya intensified their evil activities and spread their shameful calumnies further to the heart of the Ottoman Empire, poisoning the minds of the Grand Vizir and the Sultan against Bahá'u'lláh.

The announcement by Bahá'u'lláh of 'the Most Great Separation' had an electrifying effect on the community of believers in Persia. The great majority of the followers of the Báb, estimated by Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali in his immortal Bihjatu's-Sudur to be about 99 percent, embraced the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. From that time onward those who followed Mirza Yahya were identified as the breakers of the Covenant of the Báb and became known as Azalis, after Mirza Yahya's title Subh-i-Azal. At the same time the followers of Bahá'u'lláh were designated as the people of Baha, the Bahá'ís.

The separation between Bahá'u'lláh and Mirza Yahya was a clear signal for the followers of Bahá'u'lláh to dissociate themselves from Mirza Yahya and those who had gathered around him. Mirza Yahya was now living with his family in a separate house and Siyyid Muhammad was among the Muslims. For about 18 months these two continued to devise ways and means of discrediting Bahá'u'lláh and His faithful companions. They spread calumnies and falsehoods among the citizens of Adrianople and the authorities in Istanbul, all aimed at undermining the foundations of the Cause of God and tarnishing the good reputation and honour of its Author. In Persia, too, Mirza Yahya distributed among the believers his letters loaded with untrue stories. The confusion created by his venomous statements gave rise to much conflict and disturbance in that community.

 125 

About one-and-a-half years passed and Mirza Yahya's intrigues and machinations had reached their climax when suddenly the hand of God struck him down, brought about his doom and degraded him in the eyes of his supporters and the authorities in Adrianople. The incident that precipitated this downfall was entirely of his own making.

Siyyid Muhammad was heavily engaged in his activities aimed at publicly discrediting Bahá'u'lláh. In the course of his plottings he came up with the idea of arranging a public confrontation between Bahá'u'lláh and Mirza Yahya. In advocating this confrontation, Siyyid Muhammad was confident that Bahá'u'lláh would never accept such a challenge because he had observed over the years that Bahá'u'lláh usually did not seek to appear in public. He also knew of His forbearance and sin-covering attitude whenever He was confronted with those who opposed Him. For these reasons he apprised his Muslim associates of his plans.

This type of event, known in Islam as 'mubahilih', goes back to the days of Muhammad when a deputation of the unbelievers of Najran in Medina challenged the Prophet to a confrontation. It is a challenge between truth and falsehood. The two parties come together face to face and it is believed that in such a confrontation the power of truth will destroy the ungodly. Siyyid Muhammad confidently asserted to the Muslim community that whereas Mirza Yahya was ready and willing to take part in a public confrontation, Bahá'u'lláh was not.

While these wild statements were circulating in Adrianople, the believers in Persia were in a state of agitation because of Mirza Yahya's false propaganda. One of the believers from Shiraz, a certain Mir Muhammad-i-Mukari (driver of beasts of burden) came to Adrianople. This believer had accompanied the Báb as a caravan-driver from Baghdad to Mecca and, later, accompanied Bahá'u'lláh from Baghdad to Istanbul.

Mir Muhammad was of the opinion that a public confrontation would help to clarify the situation. He urged Siyyid Muhammad to induce Mirza Yahya to meet Bahá'u'lláh in a public place for all to see and he himself promised to invite Bahá'u'lláh to accept the challenge. This he did and Bahá'u'lláh responded positively to his request. Shoghi Effendi describes this episode:

Foolishly assuming that his illustrious Brother would never
countenance such a proposition, Mirza Yahya appointed the mosque of
Sultan Salim as the place for their encounter. No sooner had
Bahá'u'lláh been informed of this arrangement than He set forth,
on foot, in the heat of midday, and accompanied by this same Mir
Muhammad, for the afore-mentioned mosque, which was situated
 126 
in a distant part of the city, reciting, as He walked, through the
streets and markets, verses, in a voice and in a manner that greatly
astonished those who saw and heard Him.

'O Muhammad!', are some of the words He uttered on that
memorable occasion, as testified by Himself in a Tablet, 'He Who
is the Spirit hath, verily, issued from His habitation, and with Him
have come forth the souls of God's chosen ones and the realities
of His Messengers. Behold, then, the dwellers of the realms on
high above Mine head, and all the testimonies of the Prophets in
My grasp. Say: Were all the divines, all the wise men, all the kings
and rulers on earth to gather together, I, in very truth, would
confront them, and would proclaim the verses of God, the Sovereign,
the Almighty, the All-Wise. I am He Who feareth no one,
though all who are in heaven and all who are on earth rise up
against Me... This is Mine hand which God hath turned white
for all the worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it
down, it would, of a truth, swallow up all created things.' Mir
Muhammad, who had been sent ahead to announce Bahá'u'lláh's
arrival, soon returned, and informed Him that he who had challenged
His authority wished, owing to unforeseen circumstances,
to postpone for a day or two the interview. Upon His return to His
house Bahá'u'lláh revealed a Tablet, wherein He recounted what
had happened, fixed the time for the postponed interview, sealed
the Tablet with His seal, entrusted it to Nabil, and instructed him
to deliver it to one of the new believers, Mulla Muhammad-i-Tabrizi,
for the information of Siyyid Muhammad, who was in the
habit of frequenting that believer's shop. It was arranged to demand
from Siyyid Muhammad, ere the delivery of that Tablet, a
sealed note pledging Mirza Yahya, in the event of failing to appear
at the trysting-place, to affirm in writing that his claims were false.
Siyyid Muhammad promised that he would produce the next day
the document required, and though Nabil, for three successive
days, waited in that shop for the reply, neither did the Siyyid
appear, nor was such a note sent by him. That undelivered Tablet,
Nabil, recording twenty-three years later this historic episode in
his chronicle, affirms was still in his possession, 'as fresh as the day
on which the Most Great Branch had penned it, and the seal of the
Ancient Beauty had sealed and adorned it', a tangible and irrefutable
testimony to Bahá'u'lláh's established ascendancy over a
routed opponent.[151]
[151 ibid pp. 168-9. (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By.)]

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, the celebrated Bahá'í teacher, was in Adrianople at the time and recounts the events as he witnessed them on that memorable day The following is a summary translation of his memoirs:

The meeting was to be on Friday at the mosque of Sultan Salim
at the time of the congregational prayer when the Muslims gather
 127 
inside in great numbers... Mir Muhammad-i-Mukari from Shiraz
who was a Bábí ... could not imagine that Azal had broken the
Covenant. So he begged the Blessed Beauty to enlighten him.
Bahá'u'lláh said to him that if ever Azal came face to face with Him
at a meeting-place, then he could consider Azal's claims to be true.
Mir Muhammad accepted this statement as a criterion for distinguishing
between truth and falsehood and he endeavoured to
bring this meeting about.

The news and date of the confrontation became known among
the peoples of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions in the
city. All of them had heard of the miracles of Moses and the story
of His confrontation with Pharaoh. And now they were expecting
the meeting face to face in the mosque between His Holiness the
Shaykh Effendi [a designation by which the people called Bahá'u'lláh
to express their reverence for Him] and Mirza 'Ali [for fear
of being recognized, Azal called himself by this name], who had
denied Him. Therefore, from the morning of Friday until noon,
a large multitude drawn from the followers of these three religions
had thronged the area between the house of Amru'llah ... and the
entrance to the mosque. The crowd was so large that it was difficult
to move about. Bahá'u'lláh, the Day-Star of Glory, emerged from
His home ... and as He passed through the crowd, people showed
such reverence as is difficult to describe. They greeted Him with
salutations, bowed and opened the way for Him to pass. Many
of them prostrated themselves at His feet and kissed them.
Bahá'u'lláh, the countenance of majesty and omnipotence, in
acknowledgement greeted the crowd by raising His hands (as was
customary among the Ottomans), and expressed His good wishes.
This continued all the way to the mosque. As soon as He entered
the mosque, the preacher, who was delivering his discourse,
became speechless or perhaps he forgot his words. Bahá'u'lláh
went forward, seated Himself and then gave permission for the
preacher to continue. Eventually the preaching and prayers came
to an end. But Azal did not turn up. We heard that he had feigned
illness and asked to be excused.

...When Bahá'u'lláh was about to leave the mosque He said:
'We' owe a visit to the Mawlavis. We had better go to their takyih.'
As He rose to go, the Governor of Adrianople and other dignitaries,
together with the divines, availed themselves of the opportunity
to be in His presence and so they accompanied Him. As a token
of their humility and courtesy, the Governor, the Shaykhu'l-Islam,
the 'ulama [divines and men of learning] and other dignitaries
walked four or five steps behind Bahá'u'lláh while the stream of
His utterance was flowing. Sometimes, through His grace and
loving-kindness, Bahá'u'lláh would stop and beckon the Governor
 128 
and the others to walk in front.[*] But they would refuse to do so.
In this way, with majesty and glory born of God, Bahá'u'lláh
arrived in the takyih.[152]
[* When an important person walked, it was considered discourteous if his subordinates walked in front of, or abreast of, him except at night, when someone would carry a lantern before him. In order to show their humility, subordinates always walked a few steps behind. For example, this is how the oriental believers conducted themselves when they were walking with Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá or Shoghi Effendi.]
[152 Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 77-8.]

Mirza Yahya was now discredited in the eyes of many in Adrianople. In Persia the news of this episode spread among the believers. A Tablet known as Lawh-i-Mubahilih, addressed to Mulla Sadiq-i-Khurasani and describing this event, reached the Bahá'í community in that land and caused some wavering souls among the friends to recognize the power and majesty of Bahá'u'lláh in breaking up, once and for all, this great 'idol' of the Bábí community.

This dramatic downfall of Mirza Yahya was, as testified by Shoghi Effendi, clearly foretold by St Paul in the following passage:

Let no man deceive you by any means; for [that day shall not
come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin
be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth
himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that
he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he
is God...

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall
consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the
brightness of His coming...[153]
[153 2 Thess. 2:3,4, 8.]

The downfall of this perfidious figure who betrayed his Lord and rose up against Him coincided with an unprecedented outpouring from the Supreme Pen. The verses of God were sent down in great profusion and resulted, soon afterwards, in the proclamation of His Message to the kings and rulers of the world.

The casting out of Mirza Yahya and his followers from the community of the Most Great Name brought about his gradual downfall and ultimate extinction in later years. In the summer of 1868 the edict of Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, which condemned Bahá'u'lláh to life-long imprisonment in the fortress-city of 'Akká in the Holy Land, sent Mirza Yahya to the island of Cyprus. There he was confined in the city of Famagusta until 1878 when the island passed from Turkish to British rule. He then decided to remain in Cyprus and receive a pension from the British government, living freely on that island until his death in 1912. During this time he achieved nothing significant.

 129 

'Abdu'l-Bahá, in one of His talks, describes how in all these years Mirza Yahya did not succeed in converting a single soul on that island to his cause. Instead he spent his life in the company of his many wives and was father to several ill-bred children of low intelligence and capacity.

4-WT At last, he wrought that which caused the Day-Star of the
world to be sent an exile to this, the Most Great Prison, and
sorely wronged, and in the West of this Great Prison He did set.

The circumstances that brought about the exile of Bahá'u'lláh to the Most Great Prison in 'Akká are briefly described in chapter 8.

One of the main contributory factors prompting 'Ali-Pasha, the Grand Vizir, to submit to the Sultan his recommendation for Bahá'u'lláh's exile, was the exaggerated reports and falsehoods he received from Mirza Yahya and Siyyid Muhammad. Their campaign of misrepresentation, lasting almost 18 months, included letters from Mirza Yahya to government officials. These were filled with calumnies confirmed by a constant flow of anonymous letters written by Siyyid Muhammad and his accomplice, Aqa Jan Big, known as Kaj Kulah, and were all aimed at discrediting Bahá'u'lláh. They perverted the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and accused Him, among other things, of having conspired, with the aid of His Persian followers, with the Bulgarian leaders and high-ranking officials of certain European powers, to conquer Constantinople and overthrow the government. Such preposterous claims alarmed the authorities and hastened their resolve to banish Bahá'u'lláh to the prison city of 'Akká where they thought His Cause would die away and be consigned to oblivion forever!.

 130 
12
The Arch-Breaker of
the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh

5-WT O ye that stand fast and firm in the Covenant! The Centre
of Sedition, the Prime Mover of mischief Mirza Muhammad 'Ali
bath passed out from under the shadow of the Cause, hath
broken the Covenant...

In many of His Tablets, as in His Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá has referred to His half-brother Mirza Muhammad-'Ali as the Centre of Sedition, the Prime Mover of Mischief and the Arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. These designations indicate that it was he who, immediately after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, initiated the act of Covenant-breaking, was the motivating force misleading many believers and was the one who, for over half a century, led the Covenant-breakers against 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.

Ambition for leadership of the Bahá'í community is the most common feature of those who have violated the Covenant. In the case of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, an excessive lust for leadership so possessed him that he was driven to commit acts of infamy and crime in his struggle to wrest the reins of the Cause of God from 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Another factor contributing greatly to his downfall was the uncontrollable jealousy he entertained in his heart for 'Abdu'l-Bahá. A feeling of inferiority in relation to Him had been engendered in his mind from childhood, mainly through the resentful attitude which his mother, Mahd-i-'Ulya, showed towards 'Abdu'l-Bahá The fire of jealousy burning in his heart intensified as a result of the outpouring of Bahá'u'lláh's abundant favours upon the one He designated as the Master when 'Abdu'l-Bahá was in His early teens in Baghdad. The many expressions of praise and glorification flowing from the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh as He extolled the virtues and superhuman qualities of 'Abdu'l-Bahá whom He appointed as the Centre of His Covenant and the Interpreter of His words, aggravated the feeling of enmity towards 'Abdu'l-Bahá which Mirza Muhammad-'Ali had concealed in his heart.

Indeed, one of the reasons that 'Abdu'l-Bahá did not join Bahá'u'lláh when He moved His residence from 'Akká to the Mansion of  131  Mazra'ih and then to Bahji was to ensure that by staying away from Bahá'u'lláh the fire of jealousy in Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's heart would be somewhat dampened. Bahá'u'lláh always cherished being close to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and whenever the Master came to visit Him, Bahá'u'lláh would show great excitement and, in glowing terms, would extol His station. On these occasions the radiance of His countenance betrayed such adoration and love towards the Master that the sincere believers became joyful and the few unfaithful became envious and dispirited.

During the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his mother, brothers and sisters were all subdued by His authority and kept under control through His loving exhortations. In those days, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, as a son of Bahá'u'lláh, was highly respected by the believers and basked in the sunshine of his father's majesty and greatness. His insincerity and lack of spirituality were apparent, however, to some of the believers who were endowed with insight and pure hearts. One such example is drawn from Khatirat-i-Malmiri, the memoirs of Haji Muhammad-Tahir-i-Malmiri[*] when he describes his arrival in 'Akká around 1878 and his first meeting with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali:
[* The father of the author. For a brief account of his life see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1.]

When we[**] arrived in Haifa ... we were taken to the home of Aqa
Muhammad-Ibrahim-i-Kashani. He was directed by Bahá'u'lláh
to make his residence in Haifa, to handle the distribution of letters
and to give assistance and hospitality to Bahá'í pilgrims. When
Bahá'u'lláh was informed that the three of us had arrived, He
advised, through Mirza Aqa Jan ... that in 'Akká I should stay
with my brother Haji 'Ali.[***] We were driven from Haifa to 'Akká
in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's carriage. I was taken to Haji 'Ali's residence, which
was situated in the Khan-i-Suq-i-Abiyad (White Market), in close
proximity to the residence of Mirza Musa, Bahá'u'lláh's brother,
and several other Bahá'ís such as Nabil-A'zam... That day I was
most happy. Joy and ecstasy filled my soul. The next day, Mirza
Muhammad- 'Ali, accompanied by his two brothers, Mirza Diya'u'llah
and Mirza Badi'u'llah, came to Nabil-i-A'zam's quarters to meet
me. Very eagerly my brother and I went there to meet them. But
no sooner had I met Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and Badi'u'llah than
I became depressed and all the joy in my heart was transformed
into sadness and grief. I was distressed ... and bitterly disappointed
with myself. I was wondering what had happened so suddenly that,
in spite of all the eagerness and excitement which had filled my
 132 
being on arrival in 'Akká, I had become so utterly gloomy and
dispirited. I was convinced at that time that I had been rejected
by God...
[**Haji Muhammad-Tahir and two of his fellow pilgrims.]
[*** See Bahá'í World, vol. 9, pp. 624-5.]

I was plunged into such a state of distress and anguish that I
wanted to leave that gathering forthwith but did not dare to do so.
In my heart I was communing with God ... anxiously waiting for
the visitors to leave so that I could go out and try to find a solution
for my sad condition. I noticed that whereas my brother and Nabil-i-A'zam
were enjoying themselves talking most happily with these
sons of Bahá'u'lláh, I was in a state of mental turmoil and agony
throughout the meeting... After about an hour, when the visitors
were leaving, my brother thanked them most warmly and joyfully.

In the evening he informed me that we were to go and attain
the presence of the Master in His reception room. Although
depressed and grief-stricken as a result of meeting Mirza Muhammad-'Ali,
I went with him. As soon as I came into the presence of
the Most Great Branch, a new life was breathed into me. My whole
being was filled with such joy and felicity that all the agonies and
disturbances of the past vanished in an instant.

A few days later my brother invited me to go with him to meet
Mirza Muhammad-'Ali again, but in spite of much persuasion on
his part I refused to go... During the period that I stayed in
'Akká, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali came several times to the residence
of Nabil-A'zam but I always found some excuse not to go there.

The breaking of the Covenant by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali began immediately after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, 28 May 1892 marks the beginning of the most turbulent period within the Bahá'í community, which witnessed the onslaught of the unfaithful against the Cause on a far greater scale than any so far encountered in the course of its eventful history, including the rebellion of Mirza Yahya. The blessed remains of Bahá'u'lláh were not yet laid to rest when Mirza Muhammad-'Ali revealed his true self. Until then he had given the appearance of being loyal to his father and to 'Abdu'l-Bahá but now he launched his ignoble plans to undermine the foundation of the Covenant and overthrow 'Abdu'l-Bahá, its Centre.

In a celebrated Tablet, the Lawh-i-Hizar Bayti (Tablet of One Thousand Verses) 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the grievous events-which occurred immediately before and just after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. He states that during the days of Bahá'u'lláh's illness, He, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was in attendance on His blessed person by day and by night, most of the time in a state of deep sorrow and depression. One day as He lay in His sick-bed, Bahá'u'lláh ordered 'Abdu'l-Bahá to gather all of His papers that were in the room and place them in two special cases. It was Bahá'u'lláh's practice that whenever He left the Mansion for 'Akká or elsewhere, He would put all His papers in these  133  large cases. Aware of the implications of this command, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was shaken to the very depths of His being. As He hesitated to comply, Bahá'u'lláh reiterated His orders. With trembling hands and tearful eyes, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was beginning to gather the papers when Majdu'd-Din entered the room.

Majdu'd-Din was a son of Bahá'u'lláh's faithful brother Aqay-i-Kalim but he was utterly different from his father. The most treacherous among the family, he was 'Abdu'l-Bahá's most formidable enemy. Indeed, as we shall see later, he was the backbone, if not the principal instigator, of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, the Arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

In the Lawh-i-Hizar Bayti, 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the agony of His heart as He forced Himself to gather Bahá'u'lláh's papers. Seeing Majdu'd-Din, He asked for his assistance so that this task, so extremely painful to Him, might soon be finished. When all the papers, the seals and other items had been locked into the cases, Bahá'u'lláh said to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 'These two now belong to you.' These words, implying the approach of the final hours of Bahá'u'lláh's earthly life, pierced 'Abdu'l- Baha's heart like an arrow.

When the ascension took place, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's grief knew no bounds. The shock He sustained as a result of this calamitous event was so intense that He found it difficult to describe. He says that in the morning, along with His brother, He began the task of preparing the remains for burial. When they were about to wash Bahá'u'lláh's blessed body, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali suggested to 'Abdu'l-Bahá that since the floor would become wet, it would be better to move the two cases into Badi'u'llah's room. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was at that point in such a state of shock and grief that He was almost unconscious of His surroundings. He never thought that behind this suggestion could be a treacherous plot designed to rob Him of that precious trust.

He agreed, and the two cases were taken out and that was the last He saw of them.

The sacred remains were laid to rest that same day. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was disconsolate and heartbroken. He says that for three consecutive days and nights He could not rest a single moment. He wept for hours and was in a state of unbearable grief. The Light of the World had disappeared from His sight and all around Him had been plunged into darkness. On the fourth night after the ascension, He arose from His bed around midnight and walked a few steps, hoping that it might help to bring a measure of tranquillity to His agonized heart. As He began to pace the room, He saw through the window a scene His eyes could scarcely believe. His unfaithful brothers had opened the cases and were looking through Bahá'u'lláh's papers -- those papers that had been entrusted to Him!

lthough he was devoid of knowledge and learning, he attacked the Centre of the Covenant in his venomous writings, which contain many inaccuracies, falsehoods and calumnies. Professor Edward Browne of Cambridge was misled by him when he translated some of Javad's writings and published them in one of his works.

At the same time as the believers in the Holy Land were being tested by the disease of Covenant-breaking, a number of outstanding teachers of the Faith in Persia who were ambitious for the leadership of that community also defected and rose up in opposition to the  147  Centre of the Covenant. The main source of rebellion was the proud and egotistical Jamal-i-Burujirdi.[*] For many years during Bahá'u'lláh's ministry this ambitious and deceitful man was foremost among the teachers of the Faith and his fame had spread throughout the community. Bahá'u'lláh concealed his faults, revealed many Tablets in his name, entitled him 'Ismu'llahu'l-Jamal' (the Name of God Jamal), exhorted him to faithfulness and purity of motive, at times admonished him for those of his actions which were harmful to the Faith and overlooked his shortcomings with forbearance and magnanimity. However, his hypocrisy was known to those who were close to him. Before embracing the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, Jamal had been a learned mujtahid from the town of Burujird. Many Bahá'ís in Persia who could not see his deceitful and egotistical nature looked upon him as a man of God and treated him with great respect. It was after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh that Jamal showed his true colours, rejected the Covenant and rebelled against its Centre.
[* For a detailed story of his nefarious activities see Taherzadeh, Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, chapter 15.]

There were other teachers of the Faith in Persia who were also proud and ambitious. Notorious among them was Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji entitled by Bahá'u'lláh 'Ismu'llahu'l-Mihdi' (the Name of God Mihdi).[**] He too was treated with loving kindness and forbearance by Bahá'u'lláh, was an eloquent teacher of the Cause and was highly esteemed by the believers. Jalil-i-Khu'i[***] was another well-known believer, for whom Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Tablet of Ishraqat. These men and several others who were engaged in the service of the Cause during Bahá'u'lláh's ministry lusted in their hearts for glory and leadership of the community and were tested through the institution of the Covenant. When they failed to comply with the provisions of the Kitáb-i-'Ahd and broke the Covenant, they were expelled from the community.
[** For more information see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2.]
[*** For more information see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4.]

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's campaign of opposition against 'Abdu'l-Bahá acquired greater momentum as the years went by. Soon after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, who had already won the support of most members of Bahá'u'lláh's family, began secretly to undermine the faith of the believers in 'Akká, to weaken their love and loyalty towards the Master and eventually win them over to his own camp.

The first thing he did was to launch among the believers a clandestine campaign of calumny against 'Abdu'l-Bahá. At a time when He  148  had, as a sign of humility among the believers, adopted the title of ''Abdu'l-Bahá' (Servant of Bahá'u'lláh) and requested the friends to call Him by this new name rather than by such exalted titles as the 'Master', 'the Most Great Branch' and others conferred upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali spread rumours that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had claimed to be an independent Manifestation of God. He shamelessly accused 'Abdu'l-Bahá of aiming to destroy Bahá'u'lláh's Faith, to abrogate its laws and to completely wipe out every trace of His Revelation. He went so far as to impute to 'Abdu'l-Bahá the claim of divinity for Himself. To strengthen these false accusations, the Covenant-breakers began to preach to everyone the principle of the oneness of God and that no one can claim partnership with Him. In order to draw attention to this point, they called themselves Muvahhidin (Believers in the Unity of God). It is this appellation to which 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers in the following passage of His Will and Testament:

17-WT ...the Centre of sedition waxed haughty and rebellious
and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and
perturbed and poisoned others.

So widespread was this propaganda that even in the early days when the believers in Persia heard of this they were puzzled by the emphasis placed on the oneness of God. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali wrote about this. The following is a summary translation of his words:

As the Day-Star of the Incomparable Beauty hid itself from the eyes
of men and began to shed its light from the Realm of Glory upon
the peoples of the world, and His confirmations and assistance
were showered upon the Centre of His Covenant, these unfaithful
ones began to promote their designs. When they came in contact
with the believers, whether residents or pilgrims, they opened
the subject of the oneness of God saying that God is one, there is
no partner with Him, and the Most Great Infallibility belongs to
Him, exalted be His Glory. The believers were surprised and
bewildered at such statements. They could not understand to whom
they were imputing their strange suggestions, for no one had
claimed to be a partner with God or be a possessor of the Most
Great Infallibility.[158]
[158 Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 328.]

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates tried by various methods to undermine the faith of some believers and convert them to their side. For example, they knew those who were steadfast in the Covenant and those who were weak, simple-hearted or proud and ambitious. They bypassed the former and concentrated on sowing  149  the seeds of doubt in the hearts of the latter, adopting different methods to achieve their purpose. In all these they hid themselves under the cloak of hypocrisy and did their best to pose as the most devoted, the most pious and the most humble Bahá'ís in the land. For example, one way of misleading a simple-hearted believer was for a few agents of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali to get close to him personally and establish bonds of friendship with him. The Covenant-breakers posed as the most humble followers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and in the course of conversation praised the Master with unusual exaggeration, saying that He was a Manifestation of God, that His station was equal to Bahá'u'lláh's, that He was the embodiment of divinity Himself and that in their prayers they turned to Him instead of God. One after the other would convey to the individual such preposterous thoughts and assure him falsely that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had claimed such a station for Himself. When they were sure that the loyal Bahá'í was beginning to have doubts about 'Abdu'l-Bahá's station, they would then despatch other persons to him who would disprove and strongly criticize fabricated claims which they had slanderously attributed, to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In this way, through deceit and falsehood, they would weaken the faith of the believer to a point where he would be invited to join the group of dissidents.

Another trick played by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was to shower praise upon an outstanding teacher of the Faith who was steadfast in the Covenant. Consequently some believers would conclude that the famous Bahá'í teacher must have joined the ranks of the Covenant-breakers. This could result in the defection of some weak and uninformed believers. Once, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's associates published a paper in which they paid great tribute to the famous Bahá'í scholar Mirza Abu'l-Fadl and extolled him in superlative terms. No sooner was Mirza Abu'l-Fadl informed of this than he wrote an open letter saying that they had no right to praise him and that this action alone had exposed their hypocrisy, for he was abhorred in their sight. If any praise was due to him, it ought to come from the friends of 'Abdu'l-Bahá He handed this letter to the Master who directed that it be read aloud at a meeting of the friends.

For some years the Covenant-breakers used to mix freely with the believers, especially a few who cast themselves as the most steadfast in the Covenant but who, in reality, were acting as spies. In the gatherings of the friends, these men would speak with eloquence and feigned sincerity about the importance of firmness in the Covenant. At every meeting they would urge the believers to remain loyal to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Having established their credibility in the community, they would then intimate to the friends that a certain steadfast believer whom they knew to be rather naive and simple-hearted had  150  secretly joined the Covenant-breakers. Such an accusation, which was entirely false, would disturb the steadfast believers but these unscrupulous men would bring forth all kinds of reasons in support of their claim. For instance, one would say, I saw this person in the street bowing to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. Another would say, I saw many pages of the writings of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in his possession. One would say, I saw him in the street turning his back to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Naturally, having heard and believed such accusations against this poor individual, the faithful believers would avoid his company. Having isolated this person from the community, then Mirza Muhammad-'Ali would send his men to win him over to his side through artful manipulations and stories about 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the steadfast believers. There were also other deceitful practices through which the Covenant-breakers succeeded in gathering a number of people around themselves.

By such means a temporary breach was made in the ranks of the believers but the Covenant-breakers did not limit their activities to the Bahá'í community. Soon after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh they began a campaign of defamation against 'Abdu'l-Bahá among prominent people in 'Akká and other cities of Syria.[*] The breaking of the Covenant and rising against its Centre brought great sorrow to the hearts of the believers. Dr Yunis Khan, a trusted secretary of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and a well-known defender of the Covenant, wrote an account of the condition of the believers and Covenant-breakers in 'Akká. The following is a summary translation of his observations during a period when the Covenant-breakers were openly attacking the Cause:
[* See chapter 17 for a detailed account of their efforts to discredit 'Abdu'l-Bahá.]

Each one of the Aghsan played a special role. The Arch-breaker
of the Covenant, similar to Mirza Yahya, kept out of sight and
retired to the sanctuary of the Mansion of Bahji. Instead, he
dispatched Mirza Badi'u'llah into the field of action. The vacillating
Mirza Diya'u'llah, a person who was undecided and shifted his
position from one side to the other, often acted as a link between
the believers and the Covenant-breakers.

Mirza Badi'u'llah was actively engaged, from morning till night,
in stirring up sedition in the land. He was an artful player as he
moved in different circles. He was a two-faced hypocrite who
adapted himself to every situation and changed his style and
disposition to conform to the often conflicting customs of various
groups of people. He even attended private merrymaking parties
held for the enjoyment of sensual pleasures. The late Diya'u'llah,
that poor wavering person, did not have a steady outlook. At times
he was friendly towards the believers, at other times unfriendly;
 151 
for a while he would be steadfast in the Covenant, then he would
change his allegiance and join the Covenant-breakers. He was
always vacillating and often would bring messages from the
Covenant-breakers to the Master. [159]
[159 Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih, pp. 59-60.]

Dr Yunis Khan also observed that the Covenant-breakers could be divided into three categories:

The first were those who had completely cut themselves off from
the community; they showed their animosity quite openly and had
the audacity to speak disrespectfully to 'Abdu'l-Bahá whenever they
met Him.

The second group were those who were cut off horn the community
and were at a loose end, wandering in the streets of Haifa and
'Akká.

The third were the hesitating and wavering types who used to
associate freely with the believers and usually were the cause of
mischief. They acted as spies and informers, would pass on the
news of the believers to the Covenant-breakers who, acting upon
the information, would then formulate their stratagem accordingly.

Dr Yunis Khan described the state of the believers in those days. Here is a summary translation of his words:

In those difficult times, the believers had special feelings and
concerns which are impossible to appreciate in these days, unless
one has lived through the events of that period. For instance, those
steadfast believers, especially the older ones, had witnessed from
the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's successive banishments until the
final transfer of His residence to the Mansion of Bahji, the manner
in which the Centre of the Covenant was cherished in the presence
of. Bahá'u'lláh. They remembered how He was treated with extreme
reverence, honour and deepest affection. They recalled the
attitude of the Aghsan and the Afnan as they showed the utmost
submissiveness, humility and obedience to Him. All these had
changed and the believers were now utterly heartbroken and filled
with grief as they observed Him woefully wronged and treated with
malice.

Each day the Covenant-breakers created a new mischief. They
spread so much calumny against the Master throughout the land
that the public in the whole of Syria were perplexed and led astray.
Even those people whose daily sustenance had been provided
through the generosity of the Master arose against Him. Many
prominent people of Haifa and 'Akká who used to attribute miracles
to Him in the past now shunned Him and secretly joined
hands with Covenant-breakers against Him... Each day the
number of His admirers reduced while the number of stirrers of
sedition increased.

 152 
It is because of these developments that the believers who were
steadfast in the Covenant were sorrowful and grieved. The extent
of their distress and anguish was beyond description. But when
they attained the presence of the Master and heard His inspiring
words and came into contact with His heavenly spirit, a new life
was breathed into their souls and the light of hope shone forth in
their sorrowful hearts.

In those days the Cause of God had been promoted in the West.
Each week a bundle of letters of declaration of faith or questions
about spiritual matters was received. These were translated and
read to the friends in the biruni (outer quarters) of the Master's
house. The believers were highly exhilarated by hearing the news
of the spread of the Cause in the West... Such exciting news was
instantly carried to the Mansion of Bahji by a few individuals who
acted as spies in the midst of the friends. This would activate the
Covenant-breakers to intensify their campaign of opposition by
fabricating new calumnies against the Master and publishing them
in their inflammatory letters.[160]
[160 ibid. pp. 40-3. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih.)]

The Covenant-breakers tried very hard, with the help of the notorious Jamal-i-Burujirdi and a few others, to undermine the faith of the believers in Persia but they failed miserably. Only a very small handful of ambitious men carried on a campaign of opposition against the Covenant but they were effectively silenced by a devoted and steadfast community whose members were deepened in the Covenant and were brought up with an intense love for the Master.

Jamal, who was foremost amongst the teachers of the Cause in Persia, became very tense and agitated after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. When he saw the first message sent by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Bahá'ís of the East, he dismissed it, saying, 'The Aghsan are young and immature.' This remark was a reference to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Jamal was the first among the Bahá'ís of Persia to travel to the Holy, Land, very soon after the ascension. He went there without seeking permission from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, met with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, stayed there for a few months and returned to Persia. From that time onwards, his attitude and feelings disturbed the hearts of those who came into close contact with him. The words and counsels of 'Abdu'l-Bahá exhorting him to servitude and detachment went unheeded. The poison of Covenant-breaking had been effectively injected into his whole being by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, and although outwardly he professed loyalty to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, inwardly he was preparing himself for the day when he would become the head of the Faith in Persia. To this end, he influenced certain individuals in each province to act as his representatives. This was not difficult for him to achieve, since several teachers of the Faith in different parts of the country were his supporters. Because the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was kept a secret for  153  a few years, Jamal had no choice but to continue his activities within the Bahá'í community.

Over the course of several decades Jamal had acquired many admirers. For example, many believers in the city of Qazvin were his staunch supporters and he considered that city to be his stronghold and refuge. He was also very popular among the believers in the province of Mazindaran.

During this time, 'Abdu'l-Bahá continually exhorted Jamal to steadfastness in the Covenant and to purity of motive, in Tablets indicative of His loving concern for Jamal's spiritual survival. But, alas, in the end Jamal lost this battle. When the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali became public knowledge and his circular letters misrepresenting the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá reached the Bahá'ís of Persia, Jamal threw in his lot with the Arch-breaker of the Covenant. By transferring his loyalty to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, Jamal expected to become the indisputable head of the Faith in Persia, a position promised him by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali himself, but after Jamal became involved in activities against the Covenant, he was expelled from the Faith by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. No sooner did the believers become informed of this than the entire Bahá'í community in Persia, with the exception of a handful of people, shunned his company. Those very few individuals who joined him in his odious activities were likewise cast out of the community and isolated.

The manner in which the believers swiftly cut their association with Jamal came as a surprise to many observers. For example, he was rejected by almost the entire community in Qazvin, where he had his most ardent admirers. The same thing happened in Mazindaran. While the believers had previously given him respect and veneration, after his defection he was shunned so effectively that he could not find even one family to offer him hospitality in that province. In some places, for example in Adhirbayjan, he found a few individuals who harboured him but he and his dwindling associates swiftly sank into oblivion.

At the height of Jamal's popularity and success, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote him a Tablet[161] in which He emphasized the importance of steadfastness in the Covenant, stating that in this day the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh will reach only those who are firm in the Covenant. He affirmed that even should the one who was an embodiment of the Holy Spirit fail to turn to the Centre of the Covenant, he would become a dead body, whereas a child who remained steadfast in the Covenant would be assisted by the hosts of the Supreme Concourse. Ironically, this Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá found its fulfilment in Jamal and his few assistants, who withered away spiritually.
[161 Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 5, pp. 98-9.]

 through the spiritual powers conferred upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá strengthened the faith of those loved ones who attained His presence and enabled them to withstand the onslaught of the Covenant-breakers. This privilege was the experience of those believers who were resident in the Holy Land and the pilgrims who arrived from time to time. But the great majority of the friends who were living in other parts of the world received their spiritual sustenance from the Master through the innumerable Tablets which flowed from His pen.

Again we turn to Dr Yunis Khan's memoirs for a glimpse of the manner in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote Tablets or dictated them in the presence of the believers:

There are various accounts by Bahá'í pilgrims and visitors concerning
the revelation of Tablets by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Some have said that
at the time of revelation their souls were transported into realms
of the spirit while their whole beings were shaking with excitement.
Others have testified that they saw with their own eyes that while
the Master was entertaining believers and non-believers and
speaking to them in Turkish he was, at the same time, dictating
His Tablets in Arabic and the secretary was taking down His words.
Some have said that they saw the Master Himself writing Tablets
in Arabic while speaking in Turkish to the friends. Others have
seen Him writing a Tablet in His own hand in Persian, while at the
same time dictating one to His secretary in Arabic. Some speak of
the unusual speed of His writing as well as the majesty of His
utterances. There are no exaggerations in the above statements.
Each person has described his observations in accordance with his
own understanding...

The revelation of Tablets had a greater effect on the believers
than other experiences in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. His
 165 
Tablets were written in the following manner. Whenever 'Abdu'l-Bahá
was freed from His various daily engagements, He
summoned Mirza Nuru'd-Din, His secretary, and began dictating
to him. At times He would simultaneously review the Tablets
previously revealed, inscribed and ready for His signature. It was
on such occasions that He wrote and dictated at the same time. He
was truly the embodiment of the verse: 'Nothing whatsoever
keepeth Him from being occupied with any other thing.' There
was no thought or action which could distract Him.

As the revelation of Tablets continued, the believers, who were
usually gathered in the room below or in the Pilgrim House or
were walking in the streets of 'Akká were all eager to attain the
presence of the Master and hear His words as He dictated to His
secretary in answer to letters He had received. When summoned,
they would arrive and be seated. After greeting them lovingly, the
revelation of Tablets would begin. Sometimes He would dictate
in a loud, clear voice; sometimes He would chant His dictation in
the same melodious voice He used to chant the Tablet of Visitation
at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. As a result of this marvellous experience,
those present were immersed in the sea of astonishment.
Some would find that their questions were answered and some
learned a lesson from this heavenly experience. As the revelation
of the Tablets continued, all became exhilarated and turned their
hearts and souls to the Kingdom on high.

But alas, such meetings of fellowship and love would often be
interrupted by visiting strangers. The house of the Master was
open to all. There being no guards posted at the gate, people
would come in. If the new arrivals were not antagonistic towards
the Faith and were worthy to listen to the exalted words of the
Master, then after welcoming them and showing His loving kindness
to each one, He would resume dictating His words to His
secretary. But if they were not worthy, or if they overcrowded
the room, the Master dismissed the believers and dealt with the
situation as He deemed proper. This was how 'Abdu'l-Bahá dictated
to His secretary.

But most of the time He wrote the Tablets with His own hand
in the circumstances described above. Whenever He was free, He
would take the pen and begin to write. But as He did not wish the
believers who were assembled in the room to become tired or
bored, He would talk to them while He was writing... As others
arrived, He would welcome each and shower upon all His loving
kindness, and yet His pen was moving. Occasionally He would read
aloud what He was writing. There were also periods of silence. The
Master, as He continued to write, often broke the silence saying:
'Talk among yourselves. I will be able to hear you.' However, the
believers were so carried away by His peerless Beauty that they
would remain silent.

Only the new arrivals, those who had not been invited, such as
an Arab Shaykh or an Ottoman dignitary, would break the silence.
 166 
After the usual greetings and words of welcome which befitted the
guests, the pen of 'Abdu'l-Bahá would begin to move while He
conversed with them. Whenever there was silence, He would ask
the newly-arrived guests to broach a subject and discuss it together.
Then He Himself entered the conversation... Sometimes the
guests conducted heated arguments and yet throughout the noise
and clamour they created, the Master's pen kept on moving on His
Tablets...

My purpose in describing the revelation of the Tablets in detail
is to enable the people to appreciate the manner in which these
Tablets, which uplift the souls and exhilarate the hearts, were
written under such difficult and trying circumstances. Another
amazing aspect of these Tablets is that it was not only the believers
who heard the Master reciting them who were inspired but also
the deniers and mischief-makers, who were deeply moved and
humbled by this experience.[173]
[173 ibid. pp. 259-65. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih.)]

During those turbulent years when the Covenant-breakers were engaged in making mischief in the Holy Land, the believers' only refuge was the shelter of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's presence. He could be likened to a vast ocean at whose shores His loved ones gathered in order to receive a portion of its life-giving waters. Each believer received his share in accordance with his capacity. Some who had come empty-handed merely enjoyed seeing that vast and fathomless ocean. Others who had more capacity had come with a vessel in hand and each one received a draught of the water of life. Still others, yet unsatisfied, immersed themselves in that ocean and found some of the inestimable pearls of wisdom and knowledge which lay concealed in its depths.

That ocean -- the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá -- appeared in various forms on different occasions. At times it was calm, at others surging with mighty waves. When it was calm, every beholder would find himself in a state of joy and tranquillity. When its billowing waves surged, it cast gems of inestimable value upon the shores. At such times, the utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá captivated the hearts of His loved ones, who were carried away into spiritual realms utterly oblivious of their own selves and wholly devoted to Him. The effect of the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá upon the believers cannot be adequately explained by the above analogy. Suffice it to say that the pure in heart who attained His presence were transformed into a new creation; they became spiritual giants who championed the Cause of the Covenant and defended it with heroism and sacrifice.

In his memoirs Dr Yunis Khan asserts that the mere glance of 'Abdu'l-Bahá upon a believer released mysterious forces which at times were capable of transforming his life. This is a summary of his observations as he describes the various effects of the Master's glances:

 167 
One glance, which thankfully did not appear except on rare
occasions, was that of wrath and anger. It reflected the wrath of
God from which one had to flee for refuge to Him...

There was a glance of love and compassion which was evident
at all times. It conferred life and brought joy to everyone...
Another glance was that which enchanted the hearts and
attracted the souls. I observed many a time in the narrow and dark
streets of 'Akká that with one look, the strangers were so attracted
to 'Abdu'l-Bahá as to follow Him until He dismissed them. This
particular glance has many aspects which I am not in a position
to describe...

There was a glance by which He expressed His satisfaction and
pleasure to a person, as if to say, 'I am pleased with you.' This
glance was shown to both the obedient and the rebellious.

Another glance was one which released great spiritual potency.
If ever He cast such a glance upon a person, that person's greatest
wish would have been granted, if he so desired. But who is it that
in such an atmosphere could have any desire other than to seek
the good-pleasure of His Lord? I myself have seen this type of a
glance many a time. In this mood, one longs for sufferings in the
path of God. And some, like Varqa,[*] have, under the influence of
this glance, gone to the field of martyrdom.
[* For a story of his life see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh,
vol. 4.]

There was a glance through which a person realized that all that
was hidden in his heart, whether of the past or of the future, was
known to the Master.

Above all, there was a glance which, if ever it was directed to
an individual, caused that individual to become the recipient of
knowledge and understanding. At one time we all saw two believers
who were enchanted by this glance and became the possessors of
divine knowledge. One was Fadil-i-Shirazi,[**] the other Shaykh
'Ali-Akbar-i-Quchani[***]...[174]
[**An outstanding teacher of the Faith.]
[*** He was martyred during the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.]
[174 ibid. pp. 570-3. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih.)]

 168 
15
Mirza Muhammad-'Ali Claims
Partnership with Bahá'u'lláh

5-WT Now, that the true Faith of God may be shielded and
protected, His Law guarded and preserved and His Cause
remain safe and secure, it is incumbent upon everyone to hold
East unto the Text of the clear and firmly established blessed
verse, revealed about him. None other transgression greater than
his can be ever imagined. He (Bahá'u'lláh) sayeth, glorious and
holy is His Word: -- 'My foolish loved ones have regarded him
even as my partner, have kindled sedition in the land and they
verily are of the mischief-makers.' Consider, how foolish are the
people! They that have been in His (Bahá'u'lláh's) Presence and
beheld His Countenance, have nevertheless noised abroad such
idle talk, until, exalted be His explicit words, He said: -- 'Should
he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause,
he surely shall be brought to naught.' Reflect! What stress He
layeth upon one moment's deviation: that is, were he to incline
a hair's breadth to the right or to the left, his deviation would be
clearly established and his utter nothingness made manifest.

The basis for Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's expulsion from the Faith and his disqualification to succeed 'Abdu'l-Bahá as anticipated in the Kitáb-i-'Ahd is found in the above passage in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Central to this subject is the word 'deviation'. In the next five paragraphs of the Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá further elaborates on the same topic and establishes, beyond the shadow of doubt, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's ineligibility to succeed Him. To appreciate 'Abdu'l-Bahá's exhortation in the above passage, it is necessary to study a shameful episode in Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's life when he was a young teenager in Adrianople.

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was about ten years old when he accompanied Bahá'u'lláh to Adrianople. He left that city at the age of 15. Bahá'u'lláh granted him a special ability in his childhood -- the power of utterance -- and this became obvious to everybody who came into contact with him. But instead of using this gift to promote the Cause of God, he embarked on a career which hastened his downfall. When  169  he was in his early teens in Adrianople, he composed a series of passages in Arabic and, without Bahá'u'lláh's permission, disseminated them among some of the Persian Bahá'ís, introducing them as verses of God which, he claimed, were revealed to him. He intimated to the believers that he was a partner with Bahá'u'lláh in divine revelation. In Qazvin several believers were influenced by him and drawn to him, creating a great controversy and resulting in disunity among some of the believers there. The city was already notorious for its different factions among the Bábís and them were some followers of Mirza Yahya actively disseminating false propaganda against the followers of Bahá'u'lláh.

Now, in the midst of these conflicting groups, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's claim to be the revealer of the verses of God brought about an added confusion among Bahá'u'lláh's followers. In his writings, which are of considerable length, the teenaged Muhammad-'Ali refers to himself as, among other things, 'the King of the spirit'; he calls on the believers to 'hear the voice of him who has been manifested to man', admonishes those who deny his verses revealed in his childhood, declares his revelation to be 'the greatest of God's revelations', asserts that 'all have been created through a word from him', considers himself to be 'the greatest divine luminary before whose radiance all other suns pale into insignificance', and proclaims himself to be 'the sovereign ruler of all who are in heaven and on earth'.[175]
[175 Rahiq-i-Makhtum, vol. 2, p. 850.]

Such preposterous claims and such a display of personal ambition evoked the wrath of Bahá'u'lláh, who rebuked him vehemently and chastised him with His own hands. Meanwhile, the controversy in Qazvin continued for some time. Three believers in particular fell under the spell of Muhammad-'Ali: Mirza 'Abdu'llah, Haji Hasan and his brother, Aqa 'Ali. They and a few others, who considered their youthful candidate to be a partner with Bahá'u'lláh and of equal station to Him, entered into argument with several believers who refuted their claims. Shaykh Kazim-i-Samandar,[*] a tower of strength for the Bahá'ís of Qazvin, emphatically rejected the claims of Muhammad-'Ali and declared that his writings amounted to no more than a string of Arabic sentences which in no way could be the Word of God.
[* See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, pp. 88-91.]

This controversy prompted Haji Muhammad-Ibrahim, entitled Khalil, to write a letter to Bahá'u'lláh begging Him to clarify His own station and the station of His sons. Haji Khalil was already confused about the claims of Mirza Yahya and wished to be enlightened and  170  find the truth. In his petition he also asked other questions. Bahá'u'lláh responded by revealing a Tablet in his honour, known as the Lawh-i-Khalil (Tablet of Khalil).[*]
[* Parts of this Tablet are translated by Shoghi Effendi in Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, nos. XXXIII, XXXVIII, LXXVII and CXXVII.]

In this Tablet He declares His own station and states that as long as His sons observe the commandments of God, persevere in edifying their souls, testify to what has been revealed by God, believe in 'Him Whom God shall make manifest', do not create divisions in His Cause and do not deviate from His revealed laws, they can be considered as the leaves and branches of His tree of holiness and members of His family. Through them will the light of God be diffused and the signs of His bounty be made manifest.

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali did not live up to these standards. Apart from his shameful claim of equality with Bahá'u'lláh, he became a source of sedition in the community, inflicted severe injuries upon the Cause of God and, after Bahá'u'lláh's ascension, broke His Covenant and rose up to extinguish the light of His Faith.

In the Tablet of Khalil Bahá'u'lláh alludes to 'Abdu'l-Bahá in terms which immensely exalt Him above His other sons. He refers to Him as One 'from Whose tongue God will cause the signs of His power to stream forth' and as the One Whom 'God hath specially chosen for His Cause'.[176]
[176 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 242.]

In another Tablet[177] revealed at this time when a few believers had been influenced by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's claim, Bahá'u'lláh asserts that when Muhammad-'Ali was a child of tender years He conferred upon him the power of utterance, so that people might witness His might and glory. He grieves in this Tablet at the state of some of His foolish followers who have thought to recognize a partner with Him in revelation and who have made great mischief in the land. He expresses astonishment at the behaviour of some who have attained His presence and witnessed the outpouring of His Revelation and yet have spread such shameful rumours among the believers. Referring to Muhammad-'Ali in this Tablet, He further states:
[177 Ma'idiy-i-Asmani vol. 8, p. 40.]

He verily, is but one of My servants... Should he for a moment
pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be
brought to naught.[178]
[178 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 251.]

In this Tablet Bahá'u'lláh further confirms that all beings are created through a word from Him and that no one can claim equality, likeness or partnership with Him. He and He alone is the possessor of the  171  Most Great Infallibility which is the prerogative of every Manifestation of God.

Concerning the three believers in Qazvin who were misled by Muhammad-'Ali's claim, Bahá'u'lláh invited Haji Hasan and his brother to come to Adrianople. Here they attained His presence and fully recognized their folly.

In distinct contrast to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's claim was 'Abdu'l-Bahá's utter self-effacement. Many believers during Bahá'u'lláh's ministry used to write letters to 'Abdu'l-Bahá but He would not respond to them. For instance, Mirza 'Ali-Muhammad-i-Varqa,[*] who was later martyred, wrote a great many letters to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. To none of these did 'Abdu'l-Bahá send a reply. In the end, Varqa wrote to Mirza Aqa Jan, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, and complained. When Bahá'u'lláh was informed about this He summoned 'Abdu'l-Bahá to His presence and directed Him to send a reply to Varqa. 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote a brief letter to him saying that when the Pen of the Most High is moving upon His Tablets, how could 'Abdu'l-Bahá be expected to write? Indeed, whatever 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh was directed by Him and received His sanction. This episode alone demonstrates the vast different between the two: 'Abdu'l-Bahá, a true servant, humble and lowly before His Lord; Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, ambitious, vain and faithless.
[* See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4.]

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's claim was not the only sign pointing to his ambitious nature and his craving for leadership from this early age. His daily behaviour, even during Bahá'u'lláh's lifetime, gave clear indications of his lack of spirituality and purity of motive, and his jealousy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was apparent to those who were close to him. As Mirza Muhammad-'Ali grew older, he acquired great prestige among the believers. He thrived on the special consideration shown him by Bahá'u'lláh's followers in order to honour his father. But many of Bahá'u'lláh's disciples who had spiritual eyes soon discovered his real nature and found him devoid of those divine virtues and spiritual qualities that characterize a true believer. Long before he broke the Covenant they were able to detect in him an air of superiority and self-glorification and a craving for leadership and power.[179]
[179 As an example, see chapter 12, the story of Haji Muhammad Tahir-i-Malmiri's first meeting with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali.]

es and was the only teacher to whom the believers could turn for enlightenment in that vast country.

During the time that Khayru'llah was loyal to 'Abdu'l-Bahá he succeeded in converting a number of people to the Faith. In one of his letters to the Master he expressed profound loyalty to Him and gave the news of these conversions. The following is a translation of this letter, which he wrote in 1897:

To the sacred court of my Master and the Master of the entire
world ... may my soul be a sacrifice unto the dust of His pathway:
After offering obedience and servitude unto the sacred threshold
of my Master I beg to state that the believers in these regions and
I greet the morn immersed in the sea of your bounties, and meet
the night with the grace of your mercy which encompasses the East
and the West of the earth, because you have turned unto them and
unto me the glances of your favour. You have revealed of divine
verses three Tablets: one for the believers in America, one for
Antun Effendi Haddad, and the last one for your servant, who
forever and ever, lowly and poor, awaits the generous dispensations
of his bountiful Lord... Enclosed with this petition are
seventy-four petitions from those who have recently come into the
Faith of God, and shall soon send other petitions. Seekers who wish
to hear the Word of God and come into the knowledge of truth
arrive in large numbers...[187]
[187 Quoted in Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 271-2.]

But here is an example of how pride and ambition can extinguish the fire of faith which burns in the heart of a believer. There is nothing more vital for a follower of Bahá'u'lláh who becomes successful in teaching the Cause than genuine humility, utter self-effacement and complete servitude towards the loved ones of God. But alas, Khayru'llah was vain and egotistical. As the years went by and he saw the fruit of his teaching work multiply, he became proud and entertained the thought of dividing the Bahá'í world into two parts, he becoming the leader of the Bahá'ís of the West and 'Abdu'l-Bahá of the East!

While nurturing these selfish ambitions in his heart, he arrived in 'Akká and met the Master for the first time. He felt His majesty and authority as well as His love and compassion. For a short while Khayru'llah showed his subordination to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who one day took him to Mount Carmel and there laid the foundation stone of the mausoleum of the Báb on the site purchased by Him and chosen by Bahá'u'lláh Himself.

 190 

In the meantime, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali had discovered in Khayru'llah signs of ambition and egotism which he exploited to the full. Soon a clandestine relationship was established between the two and Khayru'llah became a tool in Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's hands. He joined the infamous band of Covenant-breakers, rose up in opposition to 'Abdu'l-Bahá disseminated his misgivings among the friends and published far and wide some of his own ideas. His defection brought great tests for the believers in the West but the vast majority of the American Bahá'ís remained faithful to the Cause. In order to further his aim of creating division within the community, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali sent Shu'a'u'llah, his son, to the United States to strengthen the hand of Khayru'llah.

The news of Khayru'llah's defection brought sorrow to the heart of 'Abdu'l-Bahá who tried to save him as he was heading towards his spiritual downfall. In 1901 the Master asked 'Abdu'l-Karim-i-Tihrani, a merchant from Cairo who had taught the Faith to Khayru'llah, to go to the United States especially to make this faltering soul realize the error of his ways. When his mission failed, that same year 'Abdu'l-Bahá sent Haji Mirza Hasan-i-Khurasani for the same purpose. He also could not help. When Haji Mirza Hasan returned, Mirza Asadu'llah-i-Isfahani was dispatched to the United States. He had previously been commissioned by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to transport the remains of the Báb to the Holy Land, a task which he had carried out with great success. He had a link with the Holy Family since he had married a sister of Munirih Khanum, the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Although he tried to help Khayru'llah remain faithful to the Covenant, sadly, a few years later, he himself and his son Dr Farid (Fareed) likewise became Covenant-breakers.

In spite of all Khayru'llah's attempts to mislead those he had earlier helped to embrace the Faith, he did not succeed in doing so. Only a small number of people gathered around him. He thus created a temporary division but the situation quickly changed. As in Persia, the believers remained loyal to the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh and thereafter refused to associate with their teacher. This can be credited to a great extent to the arrival in the United States of the celebrated Bahá'í scholar Mirza Abu'l-Fadl in 1901. The visit of this eminent teacher, undertaken at the behest of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, lasted for about two years. During this period, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl dedicated himself fully to the task of deepening the believers in the verities of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. He spent many hours, day and night, discussing various aspects of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, its history, its teachings, its laws and its Covenant, which he pointed out was the guarantor of the unity of the community. In the course of these discussions he was able to clarify those subjects which had hitherto been obscure to the  191  American Bahá'ís. In this he was assisted by Ali Kuli Khan, who acted as his interpreter. Thus, as a result of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl's teaching work, the believers in America became filled with the spirit of faith and vitality and many among them were transformed into spiritual giants of this Dispensation.

Khayru'llah, who craved power and continued to struggle to become the leader of the Bahá'í community in the West, was continually urged by the Arch-breaker of the Covenant to foment discord and contention among the believers, and the efforts of prominent Bahá'í teachers to purify his heart and mind from the poison of Covenant-breaking failed. 'Abdu'l-Bahá expelled him from the community and commented that as a result of his violation of the Covenant he would be reckoned as dead and that soon the repugnant odour of his deeds would repel people everywhere. In 1917 Khayru'llah wrote a letter to Professor Edward Browne of Cambridge University which is indicative of his despair:

The Bahá'í movement in America became slow and dull since the
sad dissension reached the West nineteen years ago. I thought then
that to call the people to this Great Truth was equivalent to inviting
them into a quarrel. But the visit of 'Abbas Effendi 'Abdu'l-Bahá
to this country, his false teachings, his misrepresentation of
Bahá'ísm, his dissimulation, and the knowledge that his end is
nigh, amused me to rise up for helping the work of God, declaring
the Truth, and refuting the false attacks of theologians and missionaries.
Now I am struggling hard to vivify the Cause of God,
after its having received by the visit of 'Abbas Effendi a death-blow.[188]
[188 Quoted in Browne, Materials, p. 171.]

Reference has been made in previous chapters to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's iniquity and rebellion -- a rebellion unprecedented in the annals of religion because the greatness of the Cause has brought similarly great opposition. Dr Yunis Khan states in his memoirs that on one occasion, towards the end of 1904, when a few pilgrims were seated in His presence, 'Abdu'l-Bahá described His suffering at the hands of the Covenant-breakers. The stories He recounted were so heart-rending that all who heard Him were deeply distressed. At this point Dr Khan asked the Master to tell him how long these Covenant-breakers would continue to oppose Him. 'Abdu'l-Bahá is reported to have said that in four years' time they would become impotent to act against Him. This prophecy was fulfilled in 1909 when, as a result of the 'Young Turk' Revolution, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was freed from 40 years of imprisonment, the Cause of God made remarkable progress in the East and the West and the Covenant-breakers crept back into their abodes of ignominy and defeat. In that same gathering in 1904  192  'Abdu'l-Bahá stated that whereas in the future some vestige would remain of Mirza Yahya's followers in the world, no trace would be left of these Covenant-breakers in the Holy Land, and this is the case today.

In one of His talks the Master is reported to have said that God always assisted the Covenant-breakers during His ministry and enabled them to make every possible breach in the stronghold of the Cause so that the Master might stop them all and ensure that others in the future would not succeed.

As the years went by, the Message of Bahá'u'lláh spread throughout the United States and Canada. It reached the continent of Europe, where a nucleus of Bahá'í communities was established in several countries including Britain, France and Germany. When 'Abdu'l-Bahá was freed from His 40-year confinement He travelled to the West and openly proclaimed the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to the people of Europe and America. So powerful was the influence He exerted on the hearts of the people that great numbers flocked to churches and public halls to see Him and to hear Him speak. The believers in the West who came into contact with 'Abdu'l-Bahá were transformed spiritually and magnetized by His all-encompassing love. He laid such a solid foundation, especially in North America, that a few years later He conferred upon that community a measure of primacy in the execution of His Tablets of the Divine Plan, a series of 14 Tablets addressed to the North American believers, which constitute a charter for the teaching work throughout the world.

 193 
19
Deviations of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali (4)

6-WI' What deviation can be more infamous than the vain and
feeble interpretations of the people of doubt!

'The people of doubt' may be understood to be a reference to the Covenant-breakers in the Holy Land and those who were misled by them. Engaged for years in opposing the Covenant, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, assisted by his evil-minded companions, continuously fabricated false stories to promote his plans to foment dissension within the Bahá'í community and create confusion and mistrust among the well-wishers of the Master. One may marvel at the Covenant-breakers' creativity, for every day they concocted and disseminated new falsehoods. While a detailed description of their propaganda lies beyond the scope of this book, a few misleading statements will be mentioned.

In the 'Infernal Letters' that he disseminated among the believers, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali maintained that contrary to the provisions of the Kitáb-i-'Ahd, 'Abdu'l-Bahá should not be the sole Centre of authority in the community. He contended that the Aghsan, meaning the three half-brothers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, should be involved in the decision-making process in all affairs of the Cause. The reason given was that 'Abdu'l-Bahá could not be trusted since He had allegedly claimed the station of the Divine Being for Himself -- a preposterous allegation. At other times 'Abdu'l-Bahá was accused of claiming the station of a Manifestation of God. The Covenant-breakers levelled all these accusations, and many more, against the Master and publicized them far and wide.

In 1903 a bloody upheaval took place in the city of Yazd and its surrounding villages. Within a few days, a great number of believers were martyred, demonstrating to the public the intensity of their faith and proclaiming with their life-blood the truth of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. The scenes of their heroism and self-sacrifice are all recorded in detail in the annals of the Faith. The news of the martyrdom of so many devoted believers brought great sorrow to the heart of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates, knowing too well that these souls had laid down their lives in the path of Bahá'u'lláh, spread the news among the inhabitants of the Holy Land in general, and to  194  prominent citizens in particular, that the followers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Yazd were all criminals and had therefore been put to death. Dr Yunis Khan recounts an interesting story which demonstrates the genius of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in the art of perverting the truth. The following is a summary translation of his words:

As the news of the sufferings of the Master reached the believers
in the West, it stirred them up and aroused the spirit of loving
devotion for Him in their hearts. Some believers decided to try to
relieve Him horn His sufferings. They wrote letters to 'Abdu'l-Bahá
and expressed their readiness to do anything in their power to
bring about His freedom. They sent letters to this effect signed by
a great many souls. Among those who wanted to take action were
Mme. Jackson and Hippolyte Dreyfus and two others who collected
a large sum of money with a view to journeying to Istanbul and
trying to secure 'Abdu'l-Bahá's release from incarceration[*] in the
Most Great Prison. In so doing they intended to give a considerable
sum as an award to Kazim Pasha, the Governor of Beirut, for
his assistance in this matter.
[* For further details of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's incarceration see chapter 20.]

As soon as this news reached the Master, He immediately put
a stop to it by sending a telegram and forbidding them to take such
action... One day 'Abdu'l-Bahá told me that His freedom from
incarceration was in the hands of God and that it was not permitted
for anyone to take action in this regard. As soon as He heard of
the plan to try to bring about His freedom, He sent a telegram to
Paris and stopped the intended plan. He then told me how the
Covenant-breakers exploited this action by the Master. They wrote
a letter to Kazim Pasha and told the whole story to him. They made
a false statement accusing 'Abdu'l-Bahá of harbouring animosity
towards the Pasha and maintained that because of this animosity,
'Abdu'l-Bahá had stopped His followers from sending him a large
sum of money (about thirty thousand liras) which he otherwise
would have received. It was because of this devilish misinformation
that the Pasha rose up in enmity against 'Abdu'l-Bahá.[189]
[189 Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 309-10.]

Dr Khan further describes the machinations of the Covenant-breakers in casting doubts in the hearts of the people about the activities of the friends, as seen in the following summary translation:

When Mirza Badi'u'llah broke his repentance,[**] rejoined his brother,
and reunited with the rebellious and the deniers, all the
Covenant-breakers joined forces in order to arrest the onward progress of
the Faith. Mirza Shu'a'u'llah went to the United States to assist
Khayru'llah and to confront Mirza Abu'l-Fadl. Thus preparations
 195 
were made to embark upon a campaign of misrepresentation of
the Cause -- a campaign in which all Covenant-breakers were to
take part including those in the Holy Land and abroad. Soon they
began to deny the indisputable facts connected with the progress
of the Faith. In those days, the believers in the East and the West
were highly excited about the unprecedented advance of the Faith.
The Covenant-breakers in their publications in the West stated that
there was no grain of truth concerning the progress of the Cause
in the East. Similarly, to the Bahá'ís of the East they emphatically
declared the statements about entry into the Faith by the Western
people to be untrue. They even publicly announced that there was
no truth in the news of the building of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in
'Ishqabad and that it was merely a propaganda campaign of the
Bahá'ís...
[** See chapter 16]

They continued fabricating false statements for some time.
Eventually, there came a time when they saw the futility of their
efforts and these activities came to a halt... In the meantime some
of the Covenant-breakers in 'Akká repented and returned to the
community, others were disillusioned and became helpless and
began to wander around. In the year 1904 the Arch-breaker of the
Covenant, along with two or three of his close allies, crept into
the den of oblivion, and like unto a spider, made a web of vain
imaginings and feeble interpretations around himself, waiting for
some poor soul to be caught in his net, to be indoctrinated and led
astray... For about two years they remained inactive until the year
1906 , when they crept out of their abodes of heedlessness and
became active again with the arrival of the Commission of
Inquiry.[190]
[190 ibid. pp. 313-15. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih.)]

As we shall see in the following pages, they soon became impotent and lost their cause altogether.

6-WT What deviation can be more wicked than joining hands
with strangers and with the enemies of God!

As we have already noted, in their struggle to achieve ascendancy over the Master, the Covenant-breakers did everything in their power to undermine the foundation of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. The basis on which they always acted was falsehood, a universal tool with which they manipulated every situation. They found sympathy among the enemies of the Cause who were longing to harm the Faith. Not satisfied with sowing the seeds of disunity among the Bahá'ís, not content with spreading falsehood among the inhabitants of 'Akká and the neighbouring lands, they took their tales of woe to foreign nationals who were antagonistic towards the Faith. Disguised as paupers, they claimed to have been treated cruelly by 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

 196 

One such person in whom the Covenant-breakers confided was Rosamond Dale Owen, the wife of Laurence Oliphant, the Victorian traveller and writer who lived for several years in the Holy Land. Mrs Oliphant, a staunch Christian committed to the defence of her religion, became alarmed at the progress of the Faith, as can be seen from her book My Perilous life in Palestine. Mirza Badi'u'llah deceitfully complained to her that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had usurped his rights and those of his brothers and that consequently he was in dire financial need. He and Mirza Muhammad-'Ali made other preposterous claims, all designed to discredit 'Abdu'l-Bahá. These brothers knew only too well that Mrs Oliphant was very unhappy about the growth of the Faith and its spread among Christians in the West; they hoped that their slanderous remarks about 'Abdu'l-Bahá might serve as ammunition in her opposition to the Faith and to the Master as its head. And this is exactly what happened.

The following few passages gleaned from Mrs Oliphant's book show the extent to which the calumnies and falsehoods that Mirza Badi'u'llah had uttered played into the hands of its author, who used them to discredit the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh:

He [Mirza Badi'u'llah] was a political prisoner in St Jean d'Acre
for a number of years, and I found that he and his family of seven
persons were about to starve...

Abbas Effendi and his family live comfortably, whereas Bedi-Allah
[sic] and his family would almost have starved had I not come
to the rescue...

I understand that Mohammed Ali [sic] the second son, is as
great a sufferer, having been saved from extreme poverty only by
the exertions of some relatives in America...

If the numerous Christian followers of Abbas Effendi, in England
and America, consider this a noble course of action, their
ideas of brotherly love, must be, so it seems to me, somewhat
peculiar...

I understand that there are at least three million Christians who
are followers and admirers of Abbas Effendi. This scarcely seems
possible, but if it be true, then it is for these people to determine
whether a man of the character of Abbas Effendi, letting his
brother almost starve while he lived comfortably, is fitted to teach
Christians a more Christ-like mode of life.[191]
[191 Owen, My Perilous Life in Palestine, pp. 230-5.]

deavour to discredit 'Abdu'l-Bahá he devised every kind of malicious plot, which brought much sorrow to the hearts of the believers. He spread untrue stories in the Bahá'í community and misrepresented the Faith to the local people in the Holy Land. These activities continued unabated until the year 1900, when 'Abdu'l-Bahá began to build the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Cannel. This undertaking played into the hands of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, who exploited it to the utmost and brought about 'Abdu'l-Bahá's greatest sufferings. The difficulties which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had endured since the passing of Bahá'u'lláh until the building work started pale into insignificance when compared with the pain inflicted on the Master by the Covenant-breakers after the start of the construction of the Shrine.

To appreciate the extent of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's machinations, a brief account of the circumstances surrounding the building of the Shrine of the Báb is helpful. In the early part of 1900 Haifa became the focal point of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's attention. He rented three houses there: one for Himself and for occasional visits by members of His family; another, a four-roomed house, for Eastern pilgrims, in which one room was set aside for the Master Himself, another for the office  199  of Haji Siyyid Taqiy-i-Manshadi,[*] and the other two for pilgrims; and a third house with four rooms, suitably furnished for the increasing number of Western pilgrims who had begun to visit 'Abdu'l-Bahá since late 1898. Before 1900 several pilgrims stayed in these houses but once 'Abdu'l-Bahá began to build the Shrine on Mount Carmel, He discouraged Bahá'ís from coming on pilgrimage and so the houses remained for the most part untenanted.
[* This believer served Bahá'u'lláh and the Master in the Holy Land for many years. See 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 54]

Dr Yunis Khan describes the state of affairs in Haifa just after the turn of the century. The following is a summary translation from his fascinating memoirs:

The work of building the foundation of the Shrine of the Báb was
proceeding well. The Blessed Master used to come to Haifa
frequently to supervise the construction work. He would stay a few
days during which the Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís attained His
presence...

Certain changes had taken place during the three or four years
preceding the year 1900.

Mirza Aqa Jan ... had passed away.

Mirza Diya'u'llah, the vacillating son of Bahá'u'lláh ... had also
passed away.

The room on the ground floor of the Mansion of Bahji which was
used by the believers had been taken over by the Covenant-breakers...

The Covenant-breakers had given up their earlier practice of
demanding payment of their expenses from the Master; consequently,
the hardships in His own household resulting from the
shortage of funds in previous years had somewhat eased. However,
from time to time, He would find some reason to send funds to His
unfaithful brothers.

The activities of the chief of police of 'Akká, Yahya Tabur Aqasi,
against the Cause of God, had produced the opposite effect. He
himself was dismissed from his post and later, when he became
destitute, he went to the Master and received help from Him.

During these past three years, groups of pilgrims from both the
East and the West visited regularly. The town of Haifa had become
 200 
a centre for the believers where meetings and festive gatherings
were often held, but in obedience to the advice of the Master, these
gatherings had become less frequent.

The Covenant-breakers began to create fresh trouble by causing
alarm among the mischievous elements of the population. They
misrepresented 'Abdu'l-Bahá's plans for the construction of the
mausoleum of the Báb.[192]
[192 Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 45-7.]

The construction of the Shrine of the Báb was the greatest undertaking in the Bahá'í Faith during the opening years of the 20th century. This was a sacred task which, during the last years of His life, Bahá'u'lláh had specifically asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá to accomplish. The purchase of the site for the Shrine took a long time, for under the influence of the Covenant-breakers the owner at first refused to sell. After many difficulties, when negotiations for the sale of the property were completed and ownership passed to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, it became necessary to purchase another piece of land situated on the south side to provide access to the building site. At the instigation of the Covenant-breakers, the owner demanded an exorbitant price for this land and even when 'Abdu'l-Bahá offered to pay a very large sum for it the owner was determined not to sell. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was heard to make the following remarks concerning this episode:

Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it,
I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed
in position.

One night I was so hemmed in by My anxieties that I had no other
recourse than to recite and repeat over and over again a prayer
of the Báb which I had in My possession, the recital of which
greatly calmed Me. The next morning the owner of the plot
himself came to Me, apologized and begged Me to purchase the
property.[193]
[193 'Abdu'l-Bahá quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 275-6.]

As the building work on Mount Carmel proceeded the believers were overjoyed at the prospect of the interment of the remains of the Báb in that holy spot. But the Covenant-breakers, who were continually frustrated in their devious activities and forced to witness the ascendancy of the Covenant, particularly in the arrival of pilgrims from the West, were aroused to inflict yet another blow upon the Master.

In 1901 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the course of His talks with the believers, foretold the approach of some impending tribulation that would be caused by the Covenant-breakers. He is reported to have intimated to the friends that the Covenant-breakers would create great trouble  201  for Him but that they themselves would be the first to be trapped in the mesh of their own devices and that only later would He Himself become a target of their schemes. 'Abdu'l-Bahá often spoke in this vein to His companions during those days. He intimated to them that whereas He welcomed afflictions in the path of God, His brothers would be the ones who would suffer. The believers were concerned about such predictions and did not know what kind of problems would be created for the Master. Their only prayer was that God might intervene and avert any ordeal which might be in store for Him.

By August 1901 the building work on Mount Carmel had reached an advanced stage and 'Abdu'l-Bahá was visiting Haifa frequently when suddenly a great upheaval occurred in 'Akká. On 20 August the believers celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb (according to the lunar calendar) at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji. On His return to 'Akká 'Abdu'l-Bahá was informed that His brothers had been escorted by soldiers from Bahji and brought to 'Akká in great humiliation. Majdu'd-Din[*] had also been brought from Tiberias. The Master immediately went to the authorities to enquire about the reason for their arrest. It was then that the governor informed 'Abdu'l-Bahá of an order from the Sultan that He and His brothers were to be confined within the walls of the city of 'Akká and that the same restrictions previously imposed upon Bahá'u'lláh and His companions in the Most Great Prison were to be re-introduced. Furthermore, none of the believers were to be allowed to leave the city and all their activities were to be monitored by the authorities.
[* See chapter 13.]

Although in the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's arrival in 'Akká such restrictions were enforceable, now, after so many years, when the Master was loved and adored by the people, it was impossible to enforce this edict fully. Indeed, the governor himself, who was a great admirer of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, was so embarrassed by the order that he delayed its implementation for some time.

This re-incarceration was the direct result of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's misrepresentations to Nazim Pasha, the governor of the province of Syria. The circumstances of this episode are described by Mirza Badi'u'llah in his 'Epistle of Repentance',[**] written a few years after this incident. He states that Mirza Muhammad-'Ali sent Mirza Majdu'd-Din to Damascus to present a petition to the governor complaining about the activities of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The main purpose of this treacherous act was to alarm the authorities by misrepresenting the purpose of the building on Mount Carmel as a fortress designed  202  to raise rebellion and by informing them of large gatherings in 'Akká and the comings and goings of Americans, whom he described as military advisers!
[** See chapter 16]

It is known that Majdu'd-Din took expensive gifts to the governor as a bribe and asked his help in bringing about 'Abdu'l-Bahá's deportation. Indeed, at other times and in the course of their several appeals to the government authorities in Syria, the Covenant-breakers had to raise large sums of money to bribe various officials. Having used up the entire estate of Mirza Aqa Jan for this purpose, they sold a one-third share of the Mansion of Bahji for 1200 liras to Yahya Tabur Aqasi, the chief of police in 'Akká and an inveterate enemy of the Faith, and spent the whole sum in bribes to officials.

Majdu'd-Din arrived back from his mission to Damascus in a jubilant mood, having secured the governor's promise of aid. But events now took a different turn. Upon receiving the governor's report, Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid became alarmed and ordered that 'Abdu'l-Bahá, His brothers and His followers be re-incarcerated. Consequently to the surprise of Majdu'd-Din, his plans misfired and he himself, as well as his chief, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, together with Mirza Badi'u'llah, were incarcerated in the city of 'Akká by the order of the Sultan. The prophecy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was fulfilled: His brothers were the first to fall into their own trap.

The Master, as always, submitted Himself to the cruelties inflicted upon Him by His enemies. He accepted the new restrictions in a spirit of radiant acquiescence. The greatest deprivation for Him was His separation from the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, which He could not visit during this time. He was also cut off from the building work on Mount Carmel, although He made arrangements for it to continue. For about seven years while this incarceration was in force 'Abdu'l-Bahá continued to direct the affairs of the Bahá'í world in both the East and the West through the outpouring of His voluminous writings. As the years went by, more pilgrims and visitors were received in His rented house adjacent to the barracks, known as the house of 'Abdu'llah Pasha. On the upper storey of this house He built a small wooden cabin in which He could pray turning in the direction of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh.

As for His brothers, upon being brought to 'Akká where they were ordered to live, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali wrote two letters, one after the other, to the governor of Damascus (whom he had already bribed) desperately seeking assistance for his own release. But his letters were left unanswered. However, 'Abdu'l-Bahá met the civil and military authorities and interceded for the release of His brothers, saying that they were not able to endure such restrictions, and they were released. He also secured freedom for the other believers, who were allowed to resume the occupations in which they had been previously engaged,  203  but He assured the authorities that He Himself would remain within the walls of the city.

The cause of the restrictions, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, at first flatly denied having had any communication with the governor of Damascus, as did Majdu'd-Din. They both alleged that the edict of the Sultan for re-incarceration had been issued as a result of the publication of a book by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, the great Bahá'í scholar, but the truth soon surfaced. In his memoirs Haji 'Ali Yazdi has described the circumstances which exposed the treachery of Majdu'd-Din and Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. According to Haji 'Ali, Majdu'd-Din had delivered two petitions personally, one to Nazim Pasha and the other to Fariq Pasha, a high-ranking military officer friendly to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The second petition was presented in response to a question raised by Fariq Pasha, who wanted to know the nature of the disagreements between 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His brothers.

Fariq Pasha considered 'Abdu'l-Bahá to be possessed of super-human powers exclusive to the Prophet of God, as illustrated by the following summarized translation of the story by Dr Yunis Khan:

Sometime before the year 1900, there was a war between the
Ottomans and the Greeks. Fariq Pasha, a general in the army, was
ordered to take part in the battle. Because of his heartfelt belief
in the powers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá he asked Him to write a prayer for
him to take with him for his protection. The Master wrote a few
lines, sealed it and gave it to him to wear on his arm but told him
not to open it. He left the Master and went quite happily to the
battlefield. At the end of the war he returned victorious, and in a
spirit of humility and servitude, went straight to the presence of
'Abdu'l-Bahá, where he expressed his gratitude to Him. 'Abdu'l-Bahá
asked him if he had ever opened the prayer, and when he
answered in the negative, He asked him to open and read it. Upon
reading it, Fariq Pasha's belief in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's superhuman
powers was further strengthened when he discovered that 'Abdu'l-Bahá
had briefly foretold the events of the war and the highlights
of his personal circumstances.[194]
[194 Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 174-5.]

Returning to the story of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's petition to the governor of Syria, Haji 'Ali Yazdi further describes that in order to confuse the issue for Fariq Pasha, who was a Sunni Muslim, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and Majdu'd-Din forged a document, which they attributed to Bahá'u'lláh, and sent it along with their petition. In this document they composed, in the name of Bahá'u'lláh, certain complimentary passages in praise of 'Umar, the second Caliph of Sunni Islam. In so doing, they made it seem that Bahá'u'lláh was a follower of Sunni Islam. The other document which they sent to the Pasha  204  contained parts of the Lawh-i-Hizar Bayti (Tablet of One Thousand Verses)[*] in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá condemned 'Umar in strong terms. In their petition they then alleged that 'Abdu'l-Bahá was inciting His followers to arise in enmity against the Sunnis, whereas the rest of Bahá'u'lláh's family were admirers of 'Umar and the Sunni community!
[* See chapter 4]

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and Majdu'd-Din continued to deny having sent any petition to Damascus until Fariq Pasha at last sent it to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who, upon receiving it, sent it to the mother of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali so that she could see the treachery of her offspring and son-in-law.

These preposterous activities opened the eyes of some of the Covenant-breakers, who had previously been duped into believing that Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was a true follower of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. These simple-hearted men, who had been for so long deceived by the Arch-breaker of the Covenant, went to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, expressed remorse for their folly and were bountifully forgiven by Him.

As we look back upon these events, we can only be amazed at the craftiness of such a two-faced hypocrite who, on the one hand, professed to his misguided followers the divine origin of the Revelation of his Father, thereby posing as a holy and truthful person worthy to be emulated by all, and on the other, shamelessly announced that both he and Bahá'u'lláh were followers of Sunni Islam. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali knew only too well that Bahá'u'lláh had clearly taught His followers that 'Umar, the second Caliph of Sunni Islam, had broken the unwritten Covenant of Muhammad and unlawfully usurped the successorship of the Prophet from Imam 'Ali. He also knew that the holy Imams of the Shí'ah sect of Islam, whose stations Bahá'u'lláh has extolled in His writings, were the true successors of the Prophet. Despite this, there were no limits to which Mirza Muhammad-'Ali would not go in order to destroy 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He was a master in the art of falsification and continued in this vein for years, spreading falsehood and calumnies against the Centre of the Covenant.

When it became public knowledge that the cause of the imposition of this new incarceration of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was Majdu'd-Din's petition, the Covenant-breakers became subdued and chastened for some time. However, once released from incarceration within the prison city, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates became content with their own freedom and jubilant that the Master, whom they hated so bitterly was confined within the walls of 'Akká. They considered this a victory and foolishly thought that the end of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His  205  leadership was in sight. Little did they know that light cannot be put out by darkness and that the power of God cannot be made ineffective through the opposition of ignoble men.

During the years of His confinement in the city of 'Akká, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was engaged in writing numerous Tablets either in His own handwriting or by dictation to His secretaries. Through these He continued to guide the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in their service to the Cause, urging them to remain steadfast in the Covenant and to diffuse the divine fragrances with wisdom and perseverance. Though restricted in His movements, the Master was now living in relative peace, directing the construction of the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel, while the emanations of His pen continued to enrapture the souls of the faithful, thus enabling them to scale loftier heights of service in His Cause.

Many significant achievements in the history of the Faith occurred during this time. In 1902, through 'Abdu'l-Bahá's instruction and guidance, the foundation stone was laid of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar[*] in 'Ishqabad, the first Bahá'í House of Worship in the world.
[*Literally, 'Dawning Place of the Mention of God'; a Bahá'í House of Worship.]

Another significant development during this period was the rise of a new spirit of dedication and steadfastness in the Bahá'í communities of both the East and the West. This spirit was intensified as a result of the upheaval in the summer of 1903 in Yazd and neighbouring villages, when a great many souls were martyred in the most moving circumstances, shedding through their amazing steadfastness and exemplary heroism an imperishable lustre upon the annals of the Faith.

In the Holy Land, while the Covenant-breakers were rejoicing that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had been made a prisoner, many members of the public were moved to sympathize with the Cause. The friendly governor of 'Akká made several attempts to persuade 'Abdu'l-Bahá not to confine Himself within the city walls but to go and visit other places outside 'Akká; however, the Master declined the suggestion. Eventually the governor asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá to accompany him on a visit to the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. The Master granted his wish and together they left the city and went to Bahji. In order to further circumvent the strict edict of the Sultan, the governor arranged another visit and this time he invited other high-ranking officials to accompany him, including Fariq Pasha.

When the party arrived at Bahji, the Covenant-breakers witnessed the majestic figure of 'Abdu'l-Bahá walking at the front of the procession and the dignitaries walking behind Him as a mark of respect.  206  When Mirza Muhammad-'Ali saw the honour and reverence which the governor and other officials paid to the Master, he became very disheartened and his hopes that incarceration might diminish 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ascendancy were dashed.

number of the erudite teachers of the Faith defended the Covenant by writing epistles refuting, in compelling terms, the misrepresentations of the Covenant-breakers. Copies of these letters were usually read aloud in the gatherings of the friends in the Holy Land. These activities as well as the onward progress of the Cause aroused the jealousy of the Covenant-breakers who began to take drastic actions against 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The following passage in the Will and Testament describes the extent of their malice and infamous deeds:

5O-WT Thereupon the loved ones of the Lord arose, inspired
with the greatest confidence and constancy and aided by the
power of the Kingdom, by Divine Strength, by heavenly Grace,
by the unfailing help and Celestial Bounty, they withstood the
enemies of the Covenant in well-nigh three score and ten treatises
and supported by conclusive proofs, unmistakable evidences and
clear texts from the Holy Writ, they refuted their scrolls of doubt
and mischief-kindling leaflets. The Centre of Sedition was thus
confounded in his craftiness, afflicted by the wrath of God, sunk
into a degradation and infamy that shall be lasting until the Day
of Doom. Base and wretched is the plight of the people of evil
deeds, they that are in grievous loss!

51-WT And as they lost their cause, grew hopeless in their
efforts against the loved ones of God, saw the Standard of His
Testament waving throughout all regions and witnessed the
power of the Covenant of the Merciful One, the flame of envy so
blazed within them as to be beyond recounting. With the utmost
vigour, exertion, rancour and enmity, they followed another
path, walked in another way, devised another plan: that of
kindling the flame of sedition in the heart of the very government
 214 
itself, and thus cause this wronged one, this prisoner to appear
as a mover of strife, inimical to the government and a hater and
opponent of the Crown. Perchance 'Abdu'l-Bahá may be put to
death and his name be made to perish whereby an arena may be
opened unto the enemies of the Covenant wherein they may
advance and spur on their charger, inflict a grievous loss upon
everyone and subvert the very foundations of the edifice of the
Cause of God. For so grievous is the conduct and behaviour of
this false people that they are become even as an axe striking at
the very root of the Blessed Tree. Should they be suffered to
continue they would, in but a few days' time, exterminate the
Cause of God, His Word, and themselves.

These passages refer to the treachery of the Covenant-breakers and their approach to government authorities, misrepresenting the activities of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

The Covenant-breakers continued to spread their malicious propaganda against the Master until the year 1904 when fresh adversities appeared on the horizon. The Covenant-breakers had assiduously plotted until the friendly governor of 'Akká was replaced by one who was hostile to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Mirza Muhammad-'Ali took full advantage of this and stirred up mischief among certain elements of the population who had shown their opposition to the Master. As a result, newspapers in Syria and Egypt wrote disturbing reports about Him and the partisans of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali fanned into flame all the unfounded allegations these articles contained.

The culmination of these activities was reached when the Arch-breaker of the Covenant finally drew up an official indictment against the Master. In it he brought false and outrageous accusations against Him and through bribery gathered a number of signatures from certain inhabitants of 'Akká to support his case. This document was sent to the authorities in Istanbul, the seat of Sultan 'Abdu'l-Hamid, in the hope that the Sultan, who was a despot, might take measures to destroy 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Soon a Commission of Inquiry arrived in 'Akká. The news spread immediately and agitation seized the inhabitants of the city. Spies were planted in the neighbourhood and the approaches to the house of the Master were watched day and night. For the protection of the Faith and the community, 'Abdu'l-Bahá advised most of the believers to leave 'Akká and seek residence elsewhere. Pilgrimages of the believers were also temporarily halted.

'Abdu'l-Bahá was summoned by the Commission to face charges brought against Him by the violators of the Covenant. He visited the members of the Commission several times and ably refuted the false accusations, disproving each in such a masterly way as to leave no  215  doubt about their spurious nature. His explanations, delivered with majesty and eloquence, were so convincing that the members of the Commission had no choice but to dismiss the case and return home. Once again Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his fellow conspirators were frustrated. Their shameful public encounter with the Master brought no benefit to them; instead it cost them large sums of money in bribes.

As 1904 drew to a close, the Master's situation gradually returned to normal and the believers returned to their homes in 'Akká. The years 1905 and 1906 passed without major incident, although 'Abdu'l-Bahá was continually harassed by these enemies of the Faith and had to take appropriate measures to protect the Cause from their various manoeuvres. In the meantime the political situation in the heart of the Ottoman Empire was becoming increasingly unstable and the Sultan correspondingly alarmed. He was known to be nervous of any popular movement in the country and showed himself ruthless in dealing with dissidents.

The Covenant-breakers, who had lost hope of carrying out their evil plots, were heartened by the political situation in Istanbul. They now decided to take advantage of the Sultan's weakness and play on his fears and suspicions. All they had to do was to re-open their case against 'Abdu'l-Bahá and send their complaints to the court of the Sultan. This, their last major onslaught against the Master, proved to be a complete failure.

In their petition, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates reaffirmed their false claim that whereas Bahá'u'lláh was merely a holy man and an admirer of Sunni Islam, 'Abdu'l-Bahá had condemned the Sunni Faith and claimed the station of prophethood for Himself. They also charged that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had not only acquired vast tracts of land in 'Akká and neighbouring villages and had gathered a large following in the Holy Land but that He had also built a mighty fortress on Mount Carmel,[*] had made a banner of 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' and raised it among the inhabitants, had received American and other Western military advisers[**] at His home and was about to overthrow the government.
[* This refers to the building of the Shrine of the Báb.]
[** This refers to Western pilgrims.]

Such inflammatory claims, made at a time when the government was apprehensive of revolt by some of the Turkish factions, disturbed the mind of the Sultan, who immediately ordered a new Commission of Inquiry to be despatched to 'Akká. This Commission, consisting of four officials, arrived in the winter of 1907. They had in their possession all the papers relating to the previous Commission of  216  Inquiry, which had, ironically enough, found all the allegations against 'Abdu'l-Bahá to be baseless.

The Commission assumed full authority in the administration of the city, dismissed the governor of 'Akká who was friendly towards 'Abdu'l-Bahá and even disregarded the orders from the governor of the province of Syria who wielded supreme authority over the region. The members of the Commission then established direct contact with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates and planned their course of action in concert with them. They took as their residence the house of 'Abdu'l-Ghani Baydun, a wealthy and influential man who was living in close proximity to the Mansion of Bahji and was friendly towards the violators of the Covenant.

Their first act was again to plant a number of spies around the house of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. They then began to obtain testimonies from those enemies who had signed Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's original petition to the authorities. With the assistance of the Covenant-breakers, the members of the Commission even sought to bring pressure upon people to testify against the Master. Through intimidation people were forced to give false testimony, while a local grocer who refused to comply was put in gaol. The inhabitants of the city became afraid to approach the house of the Master, in case they were incriminated by the authorities. Even the poor of 'Akká, whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá had always succoured, did not dare to come in contact with Him.

At one point the members of the Commission paid a visit to Mount Carmel, examined the six-room building of the Shrine, noted its massive walls and commented on its extraordinary strength. Later in their report, they confirmed the Covenant-breakers' allegation that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had indeed built a fortress on a strategic location on the mountain! They also endorsed the other charges brought against Him. Soon rumours began to circulate far and wide that the Commission was about to exile the Master to Fizan in Tripolitania, situated in the middle of the desert in North Africa.

During this period the Master remained unperturbed and confident. He continued to write His Tablets to the Bahá'ís of the East and the West, spent time planting a few trees in His small garden and, to the astonishment of some notables of 'Akká who considered His banishment to be imminent, was seen to be attending to repairs of His rented house. Their surprise was further intensified when they learned that He had bought and stored fuel for the winter.

The members of the Commission, who were actively engaged in preparing their report in collaboration with the Covenant-breakers, sent one of their agents to 'Abdu'l-Bahá inviting Him to meet with them but He declined the invitation, saying that the Commission was  217  biased against Him and there was no point in meeting with its members. At the same time He made it clear, as on previous occasions, that He was ready to submit Himself to whatever decision they made and reminded them that His greatest ambition was to follow in the footsteps of His Lord the Báb and die a martyr's death.

'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself mentioned this episode in a talk to the friends, recounted as follows:

Upon their arrival, the Commission of Inquiry invited me to meet
with them but I declined. They sent a certain official by the name
of Hikmat Big to persuade me to call on them. This agent begged
me, and even hypocritically brought tears to his eyes, pleading with
me to meet with members of the Commission even for a short time.
I told him that since they had come to investigate accusations
against me, it would be better that I did not meet them. I told him
that they had already sent a report to the capital and I had sent
a letter to Sultan Abdu'l-Hamid through Shaykh Badru'd-Din, the
gist of which was as follows:
'The members of the Commission have come to 'Akká, but I
have not met with them. I understand that they have made a report
in which they have levelled several accusations against me and for
this I am grateful. Their main complaints are as follows:

1. That I have rebelled against the government and established
my own.

2. That I have built fortifications on Mount Cannel.

3. That with the help of Mirza Dhikru'llah[*] I have hoisted a banner
with the inscription of 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' [O Glory of the Most
Glorious] among the inhabitants including the Bedouins.
[* The son of Mirza Muhammad-Quli, the faithful half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh who remained steadfast in the Covenant after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.]

4. That two-thirds of the land in 'Akká is owned by me.

The reason that I am grateful to the members of the Commission
for the above accusations is that by their first complaint, they have,
in reality, praised me and attributed great powers to me. How can
a prisoner and an exile establish a new government? Anyone who
could do that deserves to be congratulated.

Similarly, by their second complaint they have also commended
me by ascribing to me extraordinary capabilities. It would be a
miracle for one who is a captive in the hands of the authorities to
build fortifications strong enough to be capable of withstanding
bombardment by powerful naval ships.

But one is surprised by their third complaint, for how is it that
the many government agents posted all over the country have
 218 
failed to see the banner which has allegedly been hoisted among
the inhabitants of these lands? Perhaps during the last two years
these officials have been asleep or some angels have blinded their
eyes.

Concerning the fourth complaint, that I own most of the land
in 'Akká and neighbouring villages, I am willing to sell them all
for the small sum of one thousand liras.'[196]
[196 Translation of Fadil-i-Mazandarani, Asraru'l-Athar, pp. 361-3.]

The ironic language of this letter is indicative of the depravity of those 'Abdu'l-Bahá was addressing. In the meantime, events were moving to a climax in which it was almost certain that 'Abdu'l-Bahá would be exiled or put to death. The atmosphere was becoming more tense with every passing day.

There is an interesting account of an Italian who was Acting Consul for Spain at this time. He was an admirer of the Master and his wife was friendly with the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This man and his relatives were the chief agents of an Italian shipping company. When he was informed that 'Abdu'l-Bahá's life was in danger, he came to the Master in the dead of night and offered to transport Him out of the Holy Land to a safe spot. He even delayed a particular ship's departure for a few days in the hope of rescuing Him. 'Abdu'l-Bahá took the unusual step of inviting some of the elders of the Bahá'í community in 'Akká, including the celebrated Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, to consult together and give their opinion on this offer. It is amusing to see how 'Abdu'l-Bahá wanted to test these people and teach them a lesson. The group unanimously decided to advise the Master to accept the offer of the Italian friend and leave the Holy Land for a place of safety. 'Abdu'l-Bahá looked at them disapprovingly and reminded them that running away had never been the practice of the Chosen Ones of God. His Lord the Báb had offered up His life, so how could 'Abdu'l-Bahá do otherwise? As a result of this episode, each one of the group recognized his own shortsightedness and lack of understanding of the spirit of the Faith.

The following passage from the Will and Testament casts further light on 'Abdu'l-Bahá's resignation to the Will of God and His longing to lay down His life in the path of Bahá'u'lláh:

8-WT According to the direct and sacred command ,of God we
are forbidden to utter slander, are commanded to show forth
peace and amity, are exhorted to rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness
and harmony with all the kindreds and peoples of the
world. We must obey and be the well-wishers of the governments
of the land, regard disloyalty unto a just king as disloyalty to God
Himself and wishing evil to the government a transgression of
the Cause of God. With these final and decisive words, how can it
 219 
be that these imprisoned ones should indulge in such vain fancies;
incarcerated, how could they show forth such disloyalty! But alas!
The Committee of Investigation hath approved and confirmed
these calumnies of my brother and ill-wishers and submitted them
to the presence of His Majesty the Sovereign. Now at this moment
a fierce storm is raging around this prisoner who awaiteth, be
it favourable or unfavourable, the gracious will of His Majesty,
may the Lord aid him by His grace to be just. In whatsoever condition
he may be, with absolute calm and quietness, 'Abdu'l-Bahá
is ready for self-sacrifice and is wholly resigned and submitted
to His Will.

One wonders what thoughts must have crowded the mind of 'Abdu'l-Bahá during the days that He waited for the Sultan's decree, as He reflected on the adversities which had surmounted Him. How much He must have grieved when He meditated on the unfaithfulness of His brothers and other members of the family who had arisen with all their power to destroy Him and the Cause He represented. The following passage from the Wd and Testament describes the tenderness of His heart during those fate-laden days:

33-WT Lord! Thou seest all things weeping over me and my kindred
rejoicing in my woes. By Thy Glory, O my God! Even amongst
mine enemies, some have lamented my troubles and my distress,
and of the envious ones a number have shed tears because of my
cares, my exile and my afflictions. They did this because they
found naught in me but affection and care and witnessed naught
but kindliness and mercy. As they saw me swept into the flood
of tribulation and adversity and exposed even as a target to the
arrows of fate, their hearts were moved with compassion, tears
came to their eyes and they testified declaring: -- 'The Lord is
our witness; naught have we seen from him but faithfulness,
generosity and extreme compassion.' The Covenant-breakers,
foreboders of evil, however, waxed fiercer in their rancour,
rejoiced as I fell a victim to the most grievous ordeal, bestirred
themselves against me and made merry over the heartrending
happenings around me.

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote parts two and three of the Will and Testament, great dangers surrounded Him. It appears that as He was writing He was waiting patiently for God's will to be realized. He communed with God and in the prayers He wrote in this period, He revealed the agony of His heart and portrayed the evil machinations of the Covenant-breakers. In these prayers, He expressed His longing to lay down His life as a martyr in the path of Bahá'u'lláh. Those who attained the presence of the Master have left behind many stories of His craving for martyrdom. Whenever He spoke about the  220  subject, His whole being would be exhilarated, His face radiant and His heart in great excitement.

Dr Yunis Khan describes how 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the midst of intense suffering at the hands of the Covenant-breakers, earnestly prayed that yet more suffering and hardship might descend upon Him. As tribulations increased, His desire to bear them increased correspondingly. He often used to speak about illustrious martyrs such as Varqa and then, in a joyous and excited tone, He would express His heartfelt desire to lay down His life in the path of Bahá'u'lláh. So moving were His words that all His loved ones who heard Him were overcome with emotion, their souls uplifted and their hearts filled with a new spirit of sacrifice in their readiness to follow in the footsteps of their Beloved.

At the time of greatest danger to His life He revealed a number of moving prayers, such as the following:

30-WT O my Lord, my heart's Desire, Thou Whom I ever
invoke, Thou Who art my Aider and my Shelter, my Helper and
my Refuge! Thou seest me submerged in an ocean of calamities
that overwhelm the soul, of afflictions that oppress the heart, of
woes that disperse Thy gathering, of ills and pains that scatter
Thy flock. Sore trials have compassed me round and perils have
from all sides beset me. Thou seest me immersed in a sea of
unsurpassed tribulation, sunk into a fathomless abyss, afflicted
by mine enemies and consumed with the flame of their hate,
enkindled by my kinsmen with whom Thou didst make Thy
strong Covenant and Thy firm Testament, wherein Thou biddest
them turn their hearts to this wronged one, to keep away from
me the foolish, the unjust, and refer unto this lonely one all that
about which they differ in Thy Holy Book, so that the Truth may
be revealed unto them, their doubts may be dispelled and Thy
manifest Signs be spread abroad.

His Manifestation unto you and His appearance
among His favoured servants...[200]
[200 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 135. (Shoghi Effendi, World Order.)]

In another Tablet in His own handwriting, Bahá'u'lláh thus addresses 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

O Thou Who art the apple of Mine eye! My glory, the ocean of My
loving-kindness, the sun of My bounty, the heaven of My mercy
rest upon Thee. We pray God to illumine the world though Thy
knowledge and wisdom, to ordain for Thee that which will gladden
Thine heart and impart consolation to Thine eyes.[201]
[201 ibid. (Bahá'u'lláh quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 135.)]

In yet another Tablet, these verses have been revealed by Him:

The glory of God rest upon Thee, and upon whosoever serveth
Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that
opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty
to Thee; the fire of hell torment him who is Thine enemy.[202]
[202 ibid. (Bahá'u'lláh quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 135.)]

And again:

We have made Thee a shelter for all mankind, a shield unto all
who are in heaven and on earth, a stronghold for whosoever hath
believed in God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. God grant
 231 
that through Thee He may protect them, may enrich and sustain
them, that He may inspire Thee with that which shall be a well-spring
of wealth unto all created things, an ocean of bounty unto
all men, and the dayspring of mercy unto all peoples.[203]
[203 ibid. pp. 135-6. (Bahá'u'lláh quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order.)]

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá was on a visit to Beirut, Bahá'u'lláh expressed in these words His sorrow at their separation:

Praise be to Him Who hath honoured the Land of Ba [Beirut]
through the presence of Him round Whom all names revolve. All
the atoms of the earth have announced unto all created things that
from behind the gate of the Prison-city there hath appeared and
above its horizon there hath shone forth the Orb of the beauty of
the great, the Most Mighty Branch of God -- His ancient and
immutable Mystery -- proceeding on its way to another land.
Sorrow, thereby, hath enveloped this Prison-city, whilst another
land rejoiceth...

Blessed, doubly blessed, is the ground which His footsteps have
trodden, the eye that hath been cheered by the beauty of His
countenance, the ear that hath been honoured by hearkening to
His call, the heart that hath tasted the sweetness of His love, the
breast that hath dilated through His remembrance, the pen that
hath voiced His praise, the scroll that hath borne the testimony of
His writings.[204]
[204 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, pp. 227-8.]

The bounties that Bahá'u'lláh showered upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá were not confined to these and the other Tablets that streamed from His Pen. On innumerable public and private occasions He praised 'Abdu'l-Bahá, described His divine attributes in glowing terms and paid tribute to His noble deeds. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, that spiritual giant immortalized by the title 'the Angel of Carmel', has left the following record of one of his memorable audiences, when Bahá'u'lláh spoke about 'Abdu'l-Bahá's important role in shielding Him from the pressures of the outside world:[*]
[* These are not to be taken as the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh; they are only recollections of His utterances by Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali.]

During the days of Baghdad We ourself used to visit the coffee
house[**] and meet with everyone. We associated with people whether
they were in the community or outside, whether acquaintances or
strangers, whether they came from far or near.
[** See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, pp. 250-l.]

We considered those who were distant from us to be near, and
the strangers as acquaintances. We served the Cause of God,
supported His Word, and exalted His Name. The Most Great
Branch ['Abdu'l-Bahá] carried out all these services, withstood all
 232 
the difficulties and endured the sufferings and calamities to a great
extent in Adrianople and now to a far greater extent in 'Akká.
Because while in Baghdad, to all appearances We were not a
prisoner and the Cause of God had hardly enjoyed a fame it does
today. Those who opposed it and the enemies who fought against
it were comparatively few and far between.

In Adrianople We used to meet with some of the people and
gave permission to some to attain Our presence. But while in the
Most Great Prison We did not meet with anyone[*] and have completely
closed the door of association with the people. Now the
Master has taken upon Himself this arduous task for Our comfort.
He is a mighty shield facing the world and its peoples and so He
has relieved Us [from every care]. At first He secured the Mansion
of Mazra'ih for Us and We stayed there, then the Mansion of Bahji.
He is so occupied in the service of the Cause that for weeks He
does not find the opportunity to come to Bahji. We are engaged
in meeting with the believers and revealing the verses of God,
while He labours hard and faces every ordeal and suffering.
Because to deal and associate with these people is the most arduous
task of all.[205]
[* That is, with non-Bahá'ís.]
[205 Haydar-'Ali, Bihjutu's-Sudur, pp. 251-2.]

Mirza Mahmud-i-Kashani, [**] a trusted follower of Bahá'u'lláh who was in His service from the days of Baghdad and accompanied Him to Adrianople and 'Akká, has recounted in his memoirs his recollection of the words of Bahá'u'lláh as He spoke to a number of believers about the exalted station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Here is a summary translation of his notes:
[** See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, p. 288.]

...The word Aqa (the Master) was a designation given to 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
I recall that one day when Bahá'u'lláh was in the Garden of
Vashshash which was a delightful place situated outside Baghdad,
which He occasionally used to visit, someone referred to certain
individuals as the Aqa.[***] On hearing this Bahá'u'lláh was heard to
say with a commanding voice: 'Who is the Aqa? There is only one
Aqa, and He is the Most Great Branch.'
[*** As a common noun, the word 'Aqa' in the Persian language is used as a title before a name. It is similar to 'Mr' in English. However, if it is used on its own as a proper noun, it signifies the exalted station of a person.]

Bahá'u'lláh said the same thing again in the Garden of Ridvan
in 'Akká. On that occasion, someone addressed Mirza Muhammad-'Ali
as Aqa, whereupon Bahá'u'lláh admonished him saying: 'There
is one and only one Aqa and He is the Most Great Branch, others
should be addressed by their names.'...

 233 
Many a time I was in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh when the
Master was also present. Because of His presence Bahá'u'lláh
would be filled with the utmost joy and gladness. One could see
His blessed countenance beaming with delight and exultation so
lovingly that no words can adequately describe it. Repeatedly He
would laud and glorify the Master and the mere mention of His
name would suffice to evoke an indescribable feeling of ecstasy in
the person of the Blessed Beauty. No pen is capable of fully
describing this. In many of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh has extolled
the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá...

Haji Mirza Habibu'llah-i-Afnan, a younger son of Aqa Mirza Aqa entitled Nuru'd-Din,[*] one of the distinguished members of the Afnan family, has written in his memoirs some interesting stories of his pilgrimage in 1891. The following is an extract from his notes, summarized and translated:
[* For a detailed account of his life and services see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4.]

One evening we were informed that the Beloved of the World
[Bahá'u'lláh] intended to visit the Garden of Junaynih[**] and had
directed that all the pilgrims and resident Bahá'ís accompany Him
in the morning. That night we could not sleep because we were so
excited ... that we should have the bounty of being in His holy
presence for several hours the next day. At the hour of dawn we
faced His blessed room and engaged in prayers and devotions.
Before sunrise we all assembled outside the gate of the Mansion.
It took about one hour until His Blessed Person came downstairs
and mounted a white donkey... All the believers followed Him
on foot to the garden. One of the local believers, Haji Khavar, was
a tall man. He walked alongside Bahá'u'lláh and held an umbrella
over His head as a protection against the heat of the sun. The air
was refreshing as we arrived in the garden... His Blessed Person
was extremely happy that day and each one of the friends received
his share of the bounties from His presence. We had lunch in the
garden, then we assembled together and attained His presence.
[** A garden situated in the north of 'Akká near the Mansion of Mazra'ih.]

It was at that time that 'Abdu'l-Bahá arrived from 'Akká. The
Blessed Beauty said, The Master is coming, hasten to attend Him'...
On those days Bahá'u'lláh used to sow the seeds of loyalty and
servitude towards 'Him Whom God hath purposed' ['Abdu'l-Bahá]
in the hearts of the believers and explained the lofty station and
hidden reality of the Master to all.

Attended by everyone, 'Abdu'l-Bahá came with great humility
into the presence of the Blessed Beauty. Then The Tongue of
Grandeur uttered words to this effect, 'From morning until now
this garden was not pleasant but now with the presence of the
 234 
Master it has become truly most delightful.' Then, turning to
the Master, He remarked, 'You should have come in the morning.'
'Abdu'l-Bahá responded, 'The Governor of 'Akká and some
residents had requested to meet with Me. Therefore I had to receive
and entertain them.' Bahá'u'lláh, with a smiling face, said, 'The
Master is our shield. Everybody here lives in the utmost comfort
and peace. Association with the outside people such as these is very,
very difficult. It is the Master who stands up to everything and
prepares the means of comfort for all the friends. May God protect
Him from the evil of the envious and the hostile.'[*]
[* These are not to be taken as the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá.]

In His Will and Testament, having dwelt on the machinations of the Covenant-breakers, the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh and the Supreme Exemplar of His teachings unveils to His loved ones a different picture of His warm and affectionate nature. He gives them a glimmer of that heavenly spirit bestowed upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh and provides them with a glimpse of His limitless love and compassion, His humility and self-effacement through the following soul-stirring prayer of forgiveness for His enemies:

34-5-WT I call upon Thee, O Lord my God! with my tongue
and with all my heart, not to requite them for their cruelty and
their wrong-doings, their craft and their mischief, for they are
foolish and ignoble and know not what they do. They discern not
good from evil, neither do they distinguish right from wrong; nor
justice from injustice. They follow their own desires and walk
in the footsteps of the most imperfect and foolish amongst them.
O my Lord! Have mercy upon them, shield them from all
afflictions in these troubled times and grant that all trials and
hardships may be the lot of this Thy servant that hath fallen into
this darksome pit. Single me out for every woe and make me a
sacrifice for all Thy loved ones. O Lord, Most High! May my
soul, my life, my being, my spirit, my all be offered up for them.
O God, My God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I
beseech Thee with all the ardour of my invocation to pardon
whosoever hath hurt me, forgive him that hath conspired against
me and offended me, and wash away the misdeeds of them that
have wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy
goodly gifts, give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them
peace and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them
Thy bounty.

Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious the Help in Peril, the
Self-Subsisting!

 235 
24
Dissociation with Covenant-Breakers

The history of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is replete with glorious episodes of steadfastness to Bahá'u'lláh and loyalty to His Covenant, of heroism and sacrifice. There are also dark pages of violation and treachery. These contrasting features of light and darkness, of truth and falsehood are interwoven.

The preceding chapters of this book mainly recount stories of the Covenant-breakers' unfaithfulness and betrayal, which caused much agony and hardship for the Master. In His Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes their attacks on the Cause and the sufferings they inflicted on His person over a period of almost 15 years. He refers to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's hatred, describes his unrelenting attacks on the Cause, enumerates his manifold violations of the Covenant, and foreshadows, in emphatic terms, the frustration of his schemes and his eventual extinction, a prophecy soon fulfilled. Referring to him in His Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states:

5-WT And now ye are witnessing how the wrath of God hath
from all sides afflicted him and how day by day he is speeding
towards destruction. Ere long will ye behold him and his associates,
outwardly and inwardly, condemned to utter ruin.

These passages of the Will and Testament constitute dark and gloomy pages in the history of the Faith. Then, having dwelt at length on these tragic events, 'Abdu'l-Bahá turns His attention to the glorious features of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. He directs the believers to observe at all times the ordinances of God, to uphold the standard of faithfulness and to arise in the promotion of the teachings in a spirit of selflessness and detachment from all worldly things, as seen in the following exhortations:

23-4-WT O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation,
conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every
aggressor deprives himself of God's grace. It is incumbent upon
everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct,
straight-forwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and
kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense
 236 
must be the spirit of love and loving kindness, that the stranger
may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference
whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of
God and all limitations earthly. Thus man must strive that his
reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof
may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all
the world and the merciful showers of Divine Providence fall
upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living
creature and all beings endued with life obtain their share and
portion at His heavenly board. In like manner, the affections and
loving kindness of the servants of the One True God must be
bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding
this, restrictions and limitations are in no wise permitted.

Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples,
kindred and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness,
uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness,
that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of
the grace of Baha, that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancour may
vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst
the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light
of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you
show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you
show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you
attract them to yourselves, should they show their enmity be
friendly towards them, should they poison your lives, sweeten
their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to
their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the
attributes of the truthful.

The exhortation to consort with the peoples and religions of the world with the utmost love and fellowship should not be confused with the commandment to shun entirely the Covenant-breakers. Covenant-breaking is a deadly spiritual disease and never before in the history of religion have its pernicious effects been brought to light. In this Dispensation, however, the position of the Covenant-breakers and their spiritual condition have been exposed and fully examined. As we have described in chapter 3, Covenant-breaking provokes the wrath of God. Therefore, when a believer breaks the Covenant, his spiritual lifeline is cut off. Although he may have great knowledge of the teachings and the history of the Faith and may have had a brilliant record of service to the Cause, he becomes a lifeless being. Spiritually he turns blind and deaf; his heart becomes cold and bereft of faith. In reality he is not the same person any more. This is the reason why the violators of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh acted in the way they did.

As previously noted, in nature water can only flow from a high level to a lower one. It cannot flow to a point on the same level or to a higher one. Similarly, in order for a believer to receive the bounties of God  237  from on high, he must be positioned at the opposite end of the scale: lowly, humble and self-effacing. The Covenant-breakers were not. They aspired to be equal to the Centre of the Covenant and thus the spiritual energies released by God could not reach them and they became deprived of the outpouring of the spirit of faith. Their lives, once guided by the Light of Truth, were now based on falsehood. Deception, intrigue, dishonesty and violence became their way of life. Throughout the ages these vices have proved to be the weapons which the ungodly use against the righteous. But in the end they are obliterated by the power of truth.

These unholy characteristics are not exclusive to the violators at the time of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The Covenant-breakers who opposed Shoghi Effendi and those who appeared after his passing conducted their shameful careers in the same manner.

It is necessary here to distinguish between enemies of the Faith and Covenant-breakers. The former attack the Cause of God mainly through ignorance, and perhaps they will be forgiven by God. The latter, however, know where the Source of Truth is but are unable to turn to it; instead, for their own selfish reasons, they knowingly rise up against it. To inflict harm upon a human being is reprehensible in the sight of God and perhaps can be forgiven by Him. But to wilfully oppose the Cause of the Almighty and to strike at its roots, as the violators of the Covenant do, are grave transgressions which without repentance are unforgivable.

The subject of Covenant-breaking was frequently broached by the Master, according to Dr Yunis Khan's testimony. In order to protect the community horn the Covenant-breakers' poisonous influence, 'Abdu'l-Bahá used to speak about their schemes and intrigues, their plots and conspiracies. He often likened Covenant-breaking to a contagious disease: the only way to prevent it from spreading is to confine the patient and place him in quarantine. Infectious disease spreads rapidly and can affect a multitude. For that reason, He said, protecting the believers from this deadly disease was imperative and could be achieved only by cutting off association with the Covenant-breakers.

In one of His last messages to the American believers 'Abdu'l-Bahá warned of the consequences of association with the Covenant-breakers. He cabled them:

He who sits with leper catches leprosy. He who is with Christ shuns
Pharisees and abhors Judas Iscariots. Certainly shun violators...[206]
[206 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Star of the West, vol. 12, no. 14, p. 233.]

In many of their Tablets Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have emphatically warned the believers to avoid associating with the Covenant-breakers.

 brings pleasure to God as well as to the individual and there can be no reward more 'meritorious' for the Bahá'í teacher than being a source of pleasure to God.

Teaching the Cause is an act of devotion to God, as it brings pleasure to Him. In many of their Tablets, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have stated that divine blessings will descend upon those who endeavour to teach the Cause and that the act of teaching itself becomes a magnet attracting the bounties of God to the soul. It is therefore important to appreciate that the primary purpose of teaching the Cause is not to increase the membership of the Bahá'í community, although this happens as a result. Rather, it is to enable a soul to draw near to Bahá'u'lláh and become enamoured of Him.

In a Tablet[213] Bahá'u'lláh discloses the pre-eminent position occupied in the sight of God by the act of teaching. He states that there are two things pleasing to God: the tears shed in fear of Him and the blood of the martyr spilled in His path. But since Bahá'u'lláh has advised His followers not to volunteer to give their lives, He has in this Tablet replaced the reward of martyrdom with teaching His Faith. Indeed, in another Tablet[214] Bahá'u'lláh explicitly states that in this Dispensation it is preferable to teach with wisdom than to give one's life.
[213 ibid. pp. 123-4. (Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 4.)]
[214 ibid. vol. 1, p. 69. (Ma'idiy-i-Asmani.)]

In past Dispensations only a few privileged leaders of religion were engaged in teaching work but one of the greatest gifts that Bahá'u'lláh has bestowed upon His followers is to provide all believers, regardless of their abilities and accomplishments, the opportunity to become the recipients of God's bestowals as they teach His Cause -- a duty He has enjoined on them all. He has written:

God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of teaching His
Cause. Whoever ariseth to discharge this duty, must needs, ere he
proclaimeth His Message, adorn himself with the ornament of an
upright and praiseworthy character, so that his words may attract
the hearts of such as are receptive to his call. Without it, he can
never hope to influence his hearers.[215]
[215 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 335.]

This statement leaves no room for doubt that success in teaching depends upon the teacher having 'an upright and praiseworthy character', for Bahá'u'lláh says, 'Without it, he can never hope to influence his hearers.' The word 'never' is emphatic and rules out any  249  other possibility. Similar statements are found in numerous other Tablets. 'Abdu'l-Bahá also writes:

The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart
independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution
firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining
torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even
affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever.[216]
[216 'Abdu'l-Bahá Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 51.]

The emphasis of the last sentence is repeated in other Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Shoghi Effendi, too, has drawn our attention to this truth in many of his letters. To cite one celebrated passage:

Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set
of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of
teaching -- no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character
 -- not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our
enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a
critical and sceptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation.
One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone
secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the
extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror
forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal
principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.[217]
[217 Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 66.]

Here Shoghi Effendi leaves no alternative to this vital prerequisite for teaching, for he says (and let us note his double emphasis): 'One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause...'

Having discussed one of the most important prerequisites for teaching, let us now examine the work of teaching itself. There are no set methods or procedures, although we have been given certain principles and guidelines by the Author of the Faith and by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. These principles and guidelines are at variance with standards and methods current outside the Faith, where, generally, every expedient measure is used to influence people and convert them to various ideologies. The Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is founded on the truth of God's Revelation and truth cannot be clothed in false standards. It cannot employ the techniques of salesmanship, propaganda, expediency and compromise. The methods used in the commercial world to attract people to new ideas, such as extravagant and sensational publicity based on slogans, extreme statements and similar gimmicks, are all alien to the Cause of God.

In his teaching work a Bahá'í presents the message of Bahá'u'lláh as one would offer a gift to a king. Since his primary object in teaching  250  is not to increase numbers but rather to bring a soul to its God, a Bahá'í ought to approach his fellow men with feelings of love and humility and, above all, take to them the transforming power of Bahá'u'lláh and nothing of himself. Indeed, if he tries to project himself by impressing upon the listener his knowledge and accomplishments and if he aims to establish the ascendancy of his arguments while teaching the Faith, then the power of Bahá'u'lláh cannot reach him.

Success in teaching depends on one's ability and readiness to draw on the power of Bahá'u'lláh, as was discussed in chapter 14. There is no alternative. If the believer does not open the way for Bahá'u'lláh through his love for Him, through living his life in accordance with His teachings and through teaching His Cause with devotion, Bahá'u'lláh's confirmations and assistance cannot reach the believer and he will fail in his service to Him. Those who rank foremost among Bahá'í teachers have always been conscious of the presence of Bahá'u'lláh at every stage of their teaching activities. Because of this consciousness they have been enabled to approach with genuine love and humility those who have been seeking the truth and have attracted them with the warmth of their faith and the creative power of the Word of God. It is this consciousness that has enabled them to radiate the glory of the new-born Faith of God, to demonstrate its truth, to promote its interests, to withstand the onslaught of its enemies and to win imperishable victories for their Lord.

In the third part of His Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá elaborates further on the subject of teaching the Cause:

53-WT Whosoever and whatsoever meeting becometh a hindrance
to the diffusion of the Light of Faith, let the loved ones
give them counsel and say: 'Of all the gifts of God the greatest
is the gift of Teaching. It draweth unto us the Grace of God and
is our first obligation. Of such a gift how can we deprive ourselves?
Nay, our lives, our goods, our comforts, our rest, we offer
them all as a sacrifice for the Abha Beauty and teach the Cause
of God.' Caution and prudence, however, must be observed even
as recorded in the Book. The veil must in no wise be suddenly
rent asunder. The Glory of Glories rest upon you.

Throughout His ministry Bahá'u'lláh exhorted His followers to teach the Cause of God with great wisdom. He did not approve of teaching the public indiscriminately. He repeatedly advised the believers in  251  Persia, especially after the martyrdom of Badi',[*] that for their own safety and the protection of the Cause they should exercise care and prudence in their approach to people and not excite or antagonize them. In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh counsels His followers:
[* An illustrious youthful martyr of the Faith, whose exemplary sacrifice is described in Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3.]

In this Day, We can neither approve the conduct of the fearful that
seeketh to dissemble his faith, nor sanction the behaviour of the
avowed believer that clamorously asserteth his allegiance to this
Cause. Both should observe the dictates of wisdom, and strive
diligently to serve the best interests of the Faith.[218]
[218 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 343.]

To cite an example of wisdom in teaching, there is a Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh[219] in which Faris (the Christian Syrian who embraced the Faith in Alexandria)[**] is exhorted to teach with wisdom. Bahá'u'lláh counsels him not to disclose to people everything about the Cause at first but rather to teach them little by little until they are ready to absorb more. He likens this process to feeding infants who need to be given a little milk at a time until they grow in strength and are able to digest other food. This exhortation of Bahá'u'lláh is the basis of teaching the Cause of God. The principles involved are very similar to those employed by a schoolteacher in teaching his pupils. Before teaching the Cause to any person, it is important to know his background and capacity. The most successful teachers are those who, after familiarizing themselves with the beliefs and ideas of an individual, reveal the truths of the Faith gradually to him. What little they impart is the correct remedy and is so potent as to influence and stimulate the soul and enable it to take a step forward and become ready to absorb more.
[219 Bahá'u'lláh, Amr va Khalq, vol. 3, p. 121.]
[** See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, pp. 5-11.]

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, the celebrated Bahá'í teacher, has left to posterity the following account of one of his memorable interviews with Bahá'u'lláh in 'Akká, in the course of which He spoke these words about teaching the Cause of God:[***]
[*** These are not the exact words of Bahá'u'lláh but convey the purport of His talk.]

'The way to teach is to have a pleasing disposition and to deal with
people in a spirit of loving-kindness. One must acknowledge
whatever the other person says, even if it is vain imaginings, beliefs
which are the result of blind imitation or absurd talk. One should
avoid engaging in arguments or adducing proofs which bring out
stubbornness and contention in the other person. This is because
 252 
he finds himself defeated, and this will lead to his becoming more
veiled from the truth and will add to his waywardness.

'The right way is to acknowledge the other person's statements
and then present him with the alternative point of view and invite
him to examine it to see whether it is true or false. Of course, when
it is presented to him with courtesy, affection and loving-kindness,
he will hear and will not be thinking in terms of defence, to find
answers and look for proofs. He will acknowledge and admit the
points. When the person realizes that the purpose behind discussions
is not wrangling or the winning of arguments but rather to
convey the truth and to reveal human qualities and divine
perfections, he will of course show fairness. His inner eyes and ears
and heart will open and, through the grace of God, he will become
a new creation and will possess new eyes and new ears.'

Bahá'u'lláh spoke a great deal about the evils of controversial
argument and aiming to become a winner in discussion. He then
said, 'The Most Great Branch ['Abdu'l-Bahá] will listen to any
absurd talk with such attentiveness that the person concerned
believes that He is deriving enlightenment from him. However,
little by little, and in a way that the person cannot realize, He
bestows upon him a new vision and a new understanding.'[220]
[220 Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 257.]

The talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the West provide the best example of wisdom in teaching. He addressed audiences who were almost alien to the history and genesis of the Faith and unfamiliar with the claims and the station of its founder. Yet He disclosed to them with simplicity and brevity only those essential truths which they were capable of understanding and which constituted the first stepping-stones for their eventual recognition of the stupendous message of Bahá'u'lláh. He clearly avoided at that early stage any elaboration on the many implications of the station of Bahá'u'lláh and His Revelation as well as the unfoldment of His laws and His World Order in the future. Instead, He bestowed upon everyone who had the capacity a measure of His all-embracing love, which animated and sustained those few who embraced the Faith in the West.

It is perhaps a temptation for a Bahá'í teacher, especially if he is a knowledgeable one, to pour out upon a seeker all his knowledge and bombard him with a series of profound utterances and lengthy discussions with the aim of proving the truth of his own arguments. When this happens, however, it blocks the way for the power of Bahá'u'lláh to reach the heart of the seeker and enlighten him with the light of faith.

As previously noted, a passage from the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá earnestly urges the believers to 'disperse themselves in every land, pass by every clime and travel throughout all regions'.  253  These words are reminiscent of a passage in the Tablet of Carmel in which Bahá'u'lláh makes this moving announcement:

Oh, how I long to announce unto every spot on the surface of the
earth, and to carry to each one of its cities, the glad-tidings of this
Revelation -- a Revelation to which the heart of Sinai hath been
attracted, and in whose name the Burning Bush is calling: 'Unto
God, the Lord of Lords, belong the kingdoms of earth and
heaven.'[221]
[221 Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 16.]

From among all the writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, including His Tablets of the Divine Plan, which urge the believers to leave their homes and travel throughout the world for the purpose of diffusing the divine fragrances, the exhortations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the above passage of the Will and Testament penetrate the soul and are the most appealing to the heart. There can be no doubt that when 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote these passages, He knew full well that souls would arise to fulfil His appeal. Years before, soon after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, He had also addressed this theme in very moving language in the following Tablet, which was revealed for one of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh, Shaykh Kazim-i-Samandar:[*]
[* For further information about him, see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, p. 88.]

O phoenix of that immortal flame kindled in the sacred Tree!
Bahá'u'lláh -- may my life, my soul, my spirit be offered up as a
sacrifice unto His lowly servants -- hath, during His last days on
earth, given the most emphatic promise that, through the outpourings
of the grace of God and the aid and assistance vouchsafed
from His Kingdom on high, souls will arise and holy beings appear
who, as stars, would adorn the firmament of divine guidance;
illumine the dayspring of loving-kindness and bounty; manifest
the signs of the unity of God; shine with the light of sanctity and
purity; receive their full measure of divine inspiration; raise high
the sacred torch of faith; stand firm as the rock and immoveable
as the mountain; and grow to become luminaries in the heavens
of His Revelation, mighty channels of His grace, means for the
bestowal of God's bountiful care, heralds calling forth the name
of the One true God, and establishers of the world's supreme
foundation.

These shall labour ceaselessly, by day and by night, shall heed
neither trials nor woe, shall suffer no respite in their efforts, shall
seek no repose, shall disregard all ease and comfort, and, detached
and unsullied, shall consecrate every fleeting moment of their lives
to the diffusion of the divine fragrance and the exaltation of God's
holy Word. Their faces will radiate heavenly gladness, and their
 254 
hearts be filled with joy. Their souls will be inspired, and their
foundation stand secure. They shall scatter in the world, and travel
throughout all regions. They shall raise their voices in every
assembly, and adorn and revive every gathering. They shall speak
in every tongue, and interpret every hidden meaning. They shall
reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom, and manifest unto everyone
the signs of God. They shall burn brightly even as a candle in the
heart of every assembly, and beam forth as a star upon every
horizon. The gentle breezes wafted from the garden of their hearts
shall perfume and revive the souls of men, and the revelations of
their minds, even as showers, will reinvigorate the peoples and
nations of the world.

I am waiting, eagerly waiting for these holy ones to appear; and
yet, how long will they delay their coming? My prayer and ardent
supplication, at eventide and at dawn, is that these shining stars
may soon shed their radiance upon the world, that their sacred
countenances may be unveiled to mortal eyes, that the hosts of
divine assistance may achieve their victory, and the billows of
grace, rising horn His oceans above, may flow upon all mankind.
Pray ye also and supplicate unto Him that through the bountiful
aid of the Ancient Beauty these souls may be unveiled to the eyes
of the world.

The glory of God rest upon thee, and upon him whose face is
illumined with that everlasting light that shineth from His Kingdom
of Glory.[222]
[222 'Abdu'l-Bahá Selections, pp. 251-2.]

Having encouraged the believers to arise after Him for the promotion of the Faith, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the following passage of the Will and Testament, invites them to follow His example of service to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh:

14-WT This wronged servant has spent his days and nights in
promoting the Cause and urging the peoples to service. He
rested not a moment, till the fame of the Cause of God was noised
abroad in the world and the celestial strains from the Abha
Kingdom roused the East and the West. The beloved of God must
also follow the same example. This is the secret of faithfulness,
this is the requirement of servitude to the Threshold of Baha!

Finally, in the following passage of the Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá urges the believers to follow the example of the disciples of Christ. This passage also serves to immortalize the memory of those who in an earlier Dispensation achieved memorable victories for the Cause of God.

15-WT The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all earthly
things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves
of self and passion and with absolute detachment scattered far
 255 
and wide and engaged in calling the peoples of the world to the
Divine Guidance, till at last they made the world another world,
illumined the surface of the earth and even to their last hour
proved self-sacrificing in the pathway of that Beloved One of
God. Finally in various lands they suffered glorious martyrdom.
Let them that are men of action follow in their footsteps!

Today a vast number of dedicated believers from all over the world, and of every conceivable background, have arisen with vigour and devotion to promote the Cause of God as Bahá'í pioneers and teachers. Indeed, with the rising of these detached and holy souls, the initial stage of the promise of Bahá'u'lláh has already been realized. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has now reached all parts of the world; through their self-sacrifice, their detachment and their faith, these men and women, drawing on the power of Bahá'u'lláh, have succeeded in erecting the framework of the divinely-ordained institutions of the Faith everywhere. The embryo of a new world order is now growing within the old and for this reason the world will never be the same again.

he service of the Faith. At the time that 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote His Will and Testament there were four Hands of the Cause who had been appointed by Bahá'u'lláh.[*] Finally, 'Abdu'l-Bahá bestows His blessings upon those believers who are firm in the Covenant and who will follow Shoghi Effendi after His passing:
[* For detailed information about the life and activities of the Hands appointed by Bahá'u'lláh, see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. vol. 4.]

2-WT [Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest] upon
them that have believed, rested assured, stood steadfast in His
Covenant and followed the Light that after my passing shineth
 267 
from the Dayspring of Divine Guidance -- for behold! he is the
blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin
Holy Trees. Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his
shade that shadoweth all mankind.

'Abdu'l-Bahá excludes from these words of praise those who claim to believe in Bahá'u'lláh but are not firm in the Covenant. He also excludes those who may confess their belief in Bahá'u'lláh as the Author of the Faith and in 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant but do not follow Shoghi Effendi, described here as the 'Light that ... shineth from the Dayspring of Divine Guidance'.

Divine guidance was inherent within the person of Bahá'u'lláh. Through the institution of the Covenant it was conferred upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whose every word and deed during His ministry was divinely inspired. This process was continued in the ministry of Shoghi Effendi, as he inherited the same powers born of divine guidance.

In the above passage of the Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá again identifies Shoghi Effendi as a branch of the Twin Holy Trees and makes a reference to 'the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind'. One of the greatest achievements of Shoghi Effendi was the building of the Administrative Order, which is the nucleus of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. During the 36 years of his ministry he erected the institutions of this divine Order, designed by Bahá'u'lláh to act as channels to carry the world-vitalizing spirit of His Faith to humanity. These institutions are now established all over the world and are multiplying rapidly with the passage of time. In light of Shoghi Effendi's creation of a world-encircling network of divine institutions, we may not be wrong in concluding that indeed the shelter of his shade has overshadowed all mankind. But the influence that Shoghi Effendi has exerted on the ultimate establishment of a united world is not limited to his laying the foundations of the institutions of the Administrative Order. He has also left behind a vast number of divinely-guided instructions and counsels that will guide and sustain the Universal House of Justice in the discharge of its sacred duties until the end of this Dispensation.

In the following passage of the Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá appoints Shoghi Effendi to succeed Him as the Guardian of the Cause of God:

16-WT 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 Abha Beauty to turn
unto Shoghi Effendi -- the youthful branch branched from the
two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from
 268 
the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness, -- as he is
the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause
of God, he unto whom all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of
the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the
expounder of the words of God and after him will succeed the
first-born of his lineal descendents [sic].

If one were to summarize the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh or of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in two words, those words would be 'turn unto'. 'Abdu'l-Bahá enjoins on believers of all ranks to 'turn unto' Shoghi Effendi. Again 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that Shoghi Effendi has branched from the Twin Holy Trees of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab: He designates him as 'the guardian of the Cause of God' and empowers him to be 'the expounder of the words of God'.[*]
[* We will discuss the question of Shoghi Effendi's successor, 'the first-born of his lineal descendants', later in this book.]

A statement of 'Abdu'l-Bahá exhorting the believers to turn to Shoghi Effendi in a spirit of utter obedience, as well as to the Universal House of Justice, is contained in a most challenging and thought-provoking passage found in paragraph 17 of the Will and Testament. Before reviewing this particular passage in the next chapter, it is helpful to study a brief account of the life of Shoghi Effendi during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry and the many difficulties he encountered immediately after the passing of the Master.

As we have already stated, 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes Shoghi Effendi as 'the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas ... the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees'. Knowing full well the glorious mission which the Almighty had destined for His first grandson, 'Abdu'l-Bahá extended to him from the time he was born a special measure of care and love and kept him under the wings of His protection. A few of those who had been admitted to the presence of Bahá'u'lláh and who were endowed with spiritual insight observed that the same relationship which existed between Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá was also apparent between 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. That deep sense of humility and utter nothingness which 'Abdu'l-Bahá manifested towards His Father, and which was reciprocated by Him through an outpouring of bounty and love, was likewise established between the young grandchild and his beloved Master. However to avoid creating jealousy in the family, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was cautious of openly showing the intensity of His love for Shoghi Effendi. In spite of this, those believers who were endowed with discernment noticed  269  this special relationship and had no doubt that the reins of the Cause of God would one day be placed in the hands of Shoghi Effendi.

Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali and Dr Yunis Khan were among these enlightened believers. The famous poet and devoted promoter of the Cause 'Andalib saw signs of the child's future glory as Shoghi Effendi lay in his cradle and he composed a most delightful lullaby, a song of praise and victory, for him. 'Abdu'l-Bahá conferred upon his first grandchild the name 'Shoghi' (one who longs) but commanded everyone to add the title 'Effendi'[*] after his name. He even told Shoghi Effendi's father not to call him merely 'Shoghi'. The Master Himself called him Shoghi Effendi when he was only a child and wrote this prayer which reveals His cherished hopes for the future of His first grandchild:
[* 'Effendi' is a tide given to men as a term of respect.]

...O God! This is a branch sprung from the tree of Thy mercy.
Through Thy grace and bounty enable him to grow and through
the showers of Thy generosity cause him to become a verdant,
flourishing, blossoming and fruitful branch. Gladden the eyes of
his parents, Thou Who giveth to whomsoever Thou willest, and
bestow upon him the name Shoghi so that he may yearn for Thy
Kingdom and soar into the realms of the unseen![232]
[232 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 5.]

From his early childhood, Shoghi Effendi developed a passionate love for 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Their relationship was unlike that between any other grandchild and grandfather; it was a spiritual force, a heavenly power that linked Shoghi Effendi with his beloved Master. It was this degree of attachment and humble devotion that was reminiscent of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own attitude towards Bahá'u'lláh. Mrs Ella Goodall Cooper, one of the distinguished believers of the West who attained the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Akká in 1899, recounted her impressions of Shoghi Effendi as a child when he came into a room in the house of 'Abdu'llah Pasha to pay his respects to the Master. She writes:

One day ... I had joined the ladies of the Family in the room of
the Greatest Holy Leaf for early morning tea, the beloved Master
was sitting in His favourite corner of the divan where, through
the window on His right, He could look over the ramparts and
see the blue Mediterranean beyond. He was busy writing Tablets,
and the quiet peace of the room was broken only by the bubble of
the samovar, where one of the young maidservants, sitting on the
floor before it, was brewing the tea.

Presently the Master looked up from His writing with a smile,
and requested Ziyyih Khanum to chant a prayer. As she finished,
a small figure appeared in the open doorway, directly opposite
 270 
'Abdu'l-Bahá. Having dropped off his shoes he stepped into the
room, with his eyes focused on the Master's face. 'Abdu'l-Bahá
returned his gaze with such a look of loving welcome it seemed to
beckon the small one to approach Him. Shoghi, that beautiful little
boy, with his exquisite cameo face and his soulful appealing, dark
eyes, walked slowly toward the divan, the Master drawing him as
by an invisible thread, until he stood quite close in front of Him.
As he paused there a moment 'Abdu'l-Bahá did not offer to embrace
him but sat perfectly still, only nodding His head two or
three times, slowly and impressively, as if to say -- 'You see? This
tie connecting us is not just that of a physical grandfather but
something far deeper and more significant.' While we breathlessly
watched to see what he would do, the little boy reached down and
picking up the hem of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's robe he touched it reverently
to his forehead, and kissed it, then gently replaced it, while never
taking his eyes from the adored Master's face. The next moment
he turned away, and scampered off to play, like an normal child...
At that time he was 'Abdu'l-Bahá's only grandchild ... and,
naturally, he was of immense interest to the pilgrims.[233]
[233 Cooper, quoted in ibid. pp. 5-6. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl.)]

This attitude of humility and profound reverence towards the Master was one of the most outstanding features of Shoghi Effendi's personality throughout his entire life.

Shoghi Effendi grew up in the household of 'Abdu'l-Bahá under His care and protection but his childhood years were spent in 'Akká during the time when the Master and His family were incarcerated within the walls of the city and subjected to violent opposition by the Covenant-breakers. Great dangers surrounded the Holy Family. Thus Shoghi Effendi experienced, from the early years of his life, the venomous assaults launched against the Cause by the violation of the Covenant. When at one point the situation in 'Akká became too dangerous and unbearable, 'Abdu'l-Bahá sent Shoghi Effendi to Haifa with his nurse, where he lived until the Master was released from imprisonment and the Holy Family moved there permanently.

Concerning Shoghi Effendi's schooling Ruhiyyih Khanum writes:

Shoghi Effendi entered the best school in Haifa, the College des
Freres, conducted by the Jesuits. He told me he had been very
unhappy there. Indeed , I gathered from him that he never was
really happy in either school or university. In spite of his innately
joyous nature, his sensitivity and his background -- so different
from that of others in every way -- could not but set him apart and
give rise to many a heart-ache; indeed, he was one of those people
whose open and innocent hearts, keen minds and affectionate
natures seem to combine to bring upon them more shocks and
suffering in life than is the lot of most men. Because of his unhappiness
in this school 'Abdu'l-Bahá decided to send him to Beirut
 271 
where he attended another Catholic school as a boarder, and where
he was equally unhappy. Learning of this in Haifa the family sent
a trusted Bahá'í woman to rent a home for Shoghi Effendi in Beirut
and take care of and wait on him. It was not long before she wrote
to his father that he was very unhappy at school, would refuse to
go to it sometimes for days, and was getting thin and run down.
His father showed this letter to 'Abdu'l-Bahá Who then had arrangements
made for Shoghi Effendi to enter the Syrian Protestant
College, which had a school as well as a university, later known as
the American College in Beirut, and which the Guardian entered
when he finished what was then equivalent to the high school.
Shoghi Effendi spent his vacations at home in Haifa, in the presence
as often as possible of the grandfather he idolized and Whom
it was the object of his life to serve. The entire course of Shoghi
Effendi's studies was aimed by him at fitting himself to serve the
Master, interpret for Him and translate His letters into English.[234]
[234 ibid. p. 17. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl.)]

Shoghi Effendi received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Beirut in 1918. He was then able to return to Haifa and serve the Master, which he did uninterruptedly, day and night, with a devotion that knew no bounds. Not only did he serve as His secretary and the English translator of His Tablets, he also attended to many other duties, which he took upon himself in order to assist the Master in His manifold activities. He did this with characteristic sincerity, promptness and thoroughness, and brought great joy to the heart of the Master.

For a period of two years, until 1920, Shoghi Effendi was the constant companion of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He accompanied his grandfather when He visited high-ranking government officials or religious dignitaries and he saw how the Master treated His friends and dealt with His enemies. In all these encounters, Shoghi Effendi observed the manner in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá conducted Himself, with that majesty and authority that were characteristic of His person. This period, which brought Shoghi Effendi so close to the Master and linked his heart to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's, was among the most fertile of his life. But this intimate association, in the course of which 'Abdu'l-Bahá bountifully endowed the future Guardian with special powers and capacities, irrevocably came to an end when it was decided that Shoghi Effendi should enter Oxford University in England to perfect his English, thus equipping himself to achieve his heart's desire to better translate the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and other holy writings.

Shoghi Effendi left the Holy Land in the spring of 1920 and began his studies at Balliol College in the autumn of that year. During his short stay in Oxford -- a little over one year -- he concentrated all his energies on mastering the English language. But he could not complete  272  his education, for the plan of God cut across his own plans in a most painful manner when 'Abdu'l-Bahá passed away.

The news of the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá came to him as a shattering blow -- so much so that when he was informed of it he collapsed. We read the following account by Ruhiyyih Khanum in The Priceless Pearl:

The address of Major Tudor Pole, in London, was often used as
the distributing point for cables and letters to the Bahá'ís. Shoghi
Effendi himself, whenever he went up to London, usually called
there. On 29 November 1921 at 9.30 in the morning the following
cable reached that office:

Cyclometry London
His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Bahá ascended Abha Kingdom. Inform
friends.
Greatest Holy Leaf

In notes he made of this terrible event and its immediate
repercussions Tudor Pole records that he immediately notified the friends
by wire, telephone and letter. I believe he must have telephoned
Shoghi Effendi, asking him to come at once to his office, but not
conveying to him at that distance a piece of news which he well
knew might prove too much of a shock. However this may be, at
about noon Shoghi Effendi reached London, went to 61 St James'
[sic] Street (off Piccadilly and not far from Buckingham Palace) and
was shown into the private office. Tudor Pole was not in the room
at the moment but as Shoghi Effendi stood there his eye was caught
by the name of 'Abdu'l-Bahá on the open cablegram lying on the
desk and he read it. When Tudor Pole entered a moment
later he found Shoghi Effendi in a state of collapse, dazed and
bewildered by this catastrophic news. He was taken to the home
of Miss Grand, one of the London believers, and put to bed there
for a few days. Shoghi Effendi's sister Rouhangeze [sic] was studying
in London and she, Lady Blomfield and others did all they
could to comfort the heart-stricken youth.[235]
[235 ibid. p. 39. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl.)]

In a letter to a Bahá'í friend written a few days after the passing of the Master, Shoghi Effendi shares with him his thoughts about 'Abdu'l-Bahá and informs him of his plans:

The terrible news has for some days so overwhelmed my body, my
mind and my soul that I was laid for a couple of days in bed almost
senseless, absent-minded and greatly agitated. Gradually His
power revived me and breathed in me a confidence that I hope will
henceforth guide me and inspire me in my humble work of service.
The day had to come, but how sudden and unexpected. The fact.
 273 
however that His Cause has created so many and such beautiful
souls all over the world is a sure guarantee that it will live and
prosper and ere long will compass the world! I am immediately
starting for Haifa to receive the instructions He has left and have
now made a supreme determination to dedicate my life to His
service and by His aid to carry out His instructions all the days of
my life.

The friends have insisted on my spending a day or two of rest
in this place with Dr. Esslemont after the shock I have sustained
and tomorrow I shall start back to London and thence to the Holy
Land.

The stir which is now aroused in the Bahá'í world is an impetus
to this Cause and will awaken every faithful soul to shoulder the
responsibilities which the Master has now placed upon every one
of us.

The Holy Land will remain the focal centre of the Bahá'í world;
a new era will now come upon it. The Master in His great vision
has consolidated His work and His spirit assures me that its results
will soon be made manifest.

I am starting with Lady Blomfield for Haifa, and if we are
delayed in London for our passage I shall then come and see you
and tell you how marvellously the Master has designed His work
after Him and what remarkable utterances He has pronounced
with regard to the future of the Cause... With prayer and faith
in His Cause, I am your well-wisher in His service,
Shoghi[236]
[236 Quoted in ibid. pp. 40-1. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl.)]

From Shoghi Effendi's other statements it is clear that although he knew that an envelope addressed to him by the Master was awaiting his return to the Holy Land, he had no knowledge at this time that he was appointed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament as the Guardian of the Faith, the Interpreter of the Word of God, and the one to whom all were bidden to turn. Such a heavy burden, so suddenly and unexpectedly laid upon his shoulders, came to him as a further shock no less agonizing than the earlier one caused by the news of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's passing.

Accompanied by his sister Ruhangiz and by Lady Blomfield, Shoghi Effendi sailed from England on 16 December and arrived in Haifa on the 29th, one month after the passing of the Master. The agony of bereavement had taken its toll and Shoghi Effendi was physically a broken man. He was so frail that he had to be assisted up the steps of his home when he arrived. Grief-stricken by the absence of the Master, he was then confined to bed for a number of days. The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was awaiting the arrival of Shoghi Effendi to be opened. Concerning this, Ruhiyyih Khanum writes:

izing their activities in the building of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic institutions.

Shoghi Effendi placed everything that the Faith possessed in the proper perspective: its founders, laws, ordinances, teachings, principles and institutions. He enabled the believers to acquire a new conception of community life, of unity and solidarity. To appreciate this great achievement, let us use the following analogy. It is abundantly clear that the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá enshrine the truths of God's Revelation for this age. Each one of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings and ordinances resembles a piece of a colossal jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has a unique place in the overall scheme which, when assembled, produces a certain image intended by the makers. A person may be familiar with each piece but not until the whole set is assembled can he see the full picture emerge before his eyes. The same is true of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. The scholars of the Faith and those who were well versed in the holy writings and the history of the Cause had full knowledge of the teachings and were able to appreciate the significance of His utterances as well as some of the events which were associated with them. But they did not have the vision to grasp fully the overall features of the Faith. At the close of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry, the Bahá'ís were enamoured of Bahá'u'lláh but at the same time many had their own crude ideas about the Faith and its true status.

It was the Guardian who, through his writings, constructed a full image of the Faith for the Bahá'ís to see. He put together all the elements of truth enshrined in the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh, related  288  them to each other, defined the verities of the Faith, explained their significance, clarified the stations of its Herald, its Author and the Centre of its Covenant, described the glorious destiny of its Administrative Order and portrayed the splendours of the Golden Age, during which the sovereignty of Bahá'u'lláh will be established throughout the world and His grandeur acclaimed by the generality of mankind. Thus the Guardian presented the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh to the Bahá'í community in its true perspective. This is one of his greatest gifts both to this generation and to those yet unborn.

 289 
29
Covenant-Breakers' Attacks
on Shoghi Effendi

17-WT He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One, will
make a breach in the Cause of God, will subvert His Word and
will become a manifestation of the Centre of Sedition. Beware,
beware, lest the days after the ascension (of Bahá'u'lláh be
repeated when the Centre of sedition waxed haughty and rebellious
and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and
perturbed and poisoned others.

With the appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Cause, the Bahá'í world embarked upon a new age. In a previous chapter[*] the Kitáb-i-'Ahd and the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá have been likened to an examination paper placed before students, Just as some pass and some fail the test, the followers of Bahá'u'lláh who came face to face with the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá were divided. The great majority remained faithful to the Covenant. However, some egotistical personalities failed the tests of the Covenant and were cast out, with the result that the community was purged.
[* See chapter 3.]

In the passage quoted above 'Abdu'l-Bahá warns the believers not to allow the reprehensible accusations levelled against Him by the Covenant-breakers following Bahá'u'lláh's ascension to be repeated after His own passing. But, unfortunately, the forces of evil arrayed themselves against those of righteousness. The excuse of 'Divine Unity' mentioned in the above passage of the Will and Testament refers to slanderous accusations by the Covenant-breakers that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had claimed the station of divinity for Himself.[**]
[** See chapter 13.]

The news of Shoghi Effendi's appointment as Guardian of the Cause of God was warmly greeted by the entire Bahá'í world. Nevertheless, there were some faithless individuals, motivated by their ambition to emerge as leaders of the community, who arose in  290  opposition to Shoghi Effendi and, despite all his efforts to save them, proved unrepentant and were consequently expelled from the community. After some time these egotistical personalities surfaced and launched their attacks.

There was another category of people who, although they did not openly oppose Shoghi Effendi in those early days, ultimately revealed their lack of faith in him as the Guardian of the Cause of God. These included most of the members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family. They failed to see Shoghi Effendi in the light of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, which refers to him in terms such as the 'sign of God', the 'expounder of the words of God' and the 'Light that ... shined from the Dayspring of Divine Guidance'. These people contended that since Shoghi Effendi was only a youth, he ought to establish the House of Justice to assist him in his work. In later years, one by one, they rose up against him, violated the Covenant and were responsible for the greatest sufferings inflicted upon him during his ministry.

One of Bahá'u'lláh's titles is 'the Wronged One of the World' -- a title that could well be applied to Shoghi Effendi too, for he silently suffered at the hands of those closest to him. Whereas Bahá'u'lláh's main enemies had been the divines of Islam and the despotic monarchs of Persia and Turkey, the primary adversaries of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi were the Covenant-breakers. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, unlike Shoghi Effendi, did not always remain silent when sufferings were heaped upon him. In His writings and public appearances He disclosed the evil-doings of the Covenant-breakers and thus, to some extent, frustrated their wicked schemes. But Shoghi Effendi acted differently; he did not follow 'Abdu'l-Bahá's pattern of life as a public figure. He directed the affairs of the Cause and built the institutions of the Faith mainly through correspondence, privately enduring the onslaught of the Covenant-breakers with resignation and forbearance. Consequently, he suffered greatly.

Immediately upon Shoghi Effendi's return to the Holy Land after 'Abdu'l-Bahá's passing, opposition arose from the quarter of the old, established Covenant-breakers, especially Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, his brother and his associates. These unscrupulous men, who during the latter part of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry had become demoralized, with no choice but to creep into the limbo of ignominy and defeat, raised their heads once again when they saw a youth of 25 years at the helm of the Faith. They thought they could wrest the leadership of the Bahá'í community from him -- but soon discovered that they were gravely mistaken.

The Arch-breaker of the Covenant in the Holy Land and a few of his supporters in America and Persia actively tried to create division within the community. At the same time that Mirza Muhammad-'Ali  291  was calling on the Bahá'ís to follow him as 'Abdu'l-Bahá's successor, he took ruthless action to seize custody of the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh for himself. Ruhiyyih Khanum describes this episode:

Shortly after 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ascension, this disgruntled and perfidious
half-brother had filed a claim, based on Islamic law (he who
pretended he had still a right to be the successor of Bahá'u'lláh!),
for a portion of the estate of 'Abdu'l-Bahá which he now claimed
a right to as His brother. He had sent for his son, who had been
living in America and agitating his father's claims there, to join
him in this new and direct attack on the Master and His family.
Not content with this exhibition of his true nature he applied to
the civil authorities to turn over the custodianship of Bahá'u'lláh's
Shrine to him on the grounds that he was 'Abdu'l-Bahá's lawful
successor. The British authorities refused on the grounds that it
appeared to be a religious issue; he then appealed to the Muslim
religious head and asked the Mufti of 'Akká to take formal charge
of Bahá'u'lláh's Shrine; this dignitary, however, said he did not see
how he could do this as the Bahá'í teachings were not in conformity
with Shariah law. All other avenues having failed he sent his
younger brother, Badiullah, with some of their supporters, to visit
the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh where, on Tuesday, 30 January, they
forcibly seized the keys of the Holy Tomb from the Bahá'í caretaker,
thus asserting Muhammad 'Ali's right to be the lawful
custodian of his Father's resting-place. This unprincipled act
created such a commotion in the Bahá'í Community that the
Governor of 'Akká ordered the keys to be handed over to the
authorities, posted guards at the Shrine, but went no further,
refusing to return the keys to either party.[245]
[245 Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 53-4.]

Following Shoghi Effendi's arrival in Haifa, the shock of the announcement of his appointment as the Guardian of the Faith, coupled with the terrible ordeal of the passing of the Master, took their toll on his health. He was so crushed under the weight of bereavement that he could not even attend a memorial meeting for the Master which was held in His residence 40 days after His ascension. Three weeks later, the seizure of the sacred Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh by the Covenant-breakers came as a further blow.

The seizure of the keys of the Shrine by this bitterest enemy brought shock and sorrow to the tender and sensitive heart of Shoghi Effendi. Yet, despite his physical weakness, the evidence of divine guidance was apparent in his actions, which were characterized by a resolve and a wisdom that called to mind the wisdom of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His penetrating foresight. While Shoghi Effendi's appeal to the government for the return of the keys was postponed by his absence from the Holy Land, which lasted about eight months, he continued  292  to pursue this matter with great diligence until full rights of possession were restored to him by the authorities. Ruhiyyih Khanum writes in some detail about this episode:

The matter which concerned Shoghi Effendi most, however, was
the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji. The keys of the inner Tomb
were still held by the authorities; the right of access to other parts
of the Shrine was accorded Bahá'ís and Covenant-breakers alike;
the Bahá'í custodian looked after it as before, and any decision
seemed in a state of abeyance. Shoghi Effendi never rested until,
through representations he made to the authorities, backed by
insistent pressure from Bahá'ís all over the world, he succeeded
in getting the custody of the Holy Tomb back into his own hands.
On 7 February 1923 he wrote to Tudor Pole: 'I have had a long
talk with Col. Symes and have fully explained to him the exact
state of affairs, the unmistakable and overwhelming voice of all the
Bahá'í Community and their unshakable determination to stand
by the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Recently he sent a
message to Muhammad 'Ali requiring from him the sum of £108.
for the expenses of the policeman, contending that he being the
aggressor is liable to this expense. So far he has not complied with
this request and I await future developments with deep anxiety.'
The following day Shoghi Effendi received this telegram from
his cousin, who was in Jerusalem:

His Eminence Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, Haifa.
Letter received immediate steps taken the final decision by the
High Commissioner is in our favour the key is yours.[246]
[246 ibid. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 70-1.)]

Given his ill health and the weight of the custodianship of so mighty a Cause so suddenly placed upon his shoulders, the pressures which were building up around Shoghi Effendi were intolerable. In these circumstances he decided to leave the Holy Land for a period, during which he hoped to pray and commune with his Beloved in solitude, regain his strength and confidence, and return to the duties waiting him at the World Centre. He announced his decision in a letter written in English to the Bahá'ís of the West and in a similar one in Persian to the Bahá'ís of the East:

He is God!
This servant, after that grievous event and great calamity -- the
ascension of His Holiness 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Abha Kingdom  --
has been so stricken with grief and pain and so entangled in the
troubles (created) by the enemies of the Cause of God, that I
consider my presence here, at such a time and in such an atmosphere,
is not in accordance with the fulfilment of my important and
sacred duties.

 293 
For this reason, unable to do otherwise, I have left for a time
the affairs of the Cause, both at home and abroad, under the
supervision of the Holy Family and the headship of the Greatest
Holy Leaf -- may my soul be a sacrifice to her -- until, by the Grace
of God, having gained health, strength, self-confidence and
spiritual energy, and having taken into my hands, in accordance
with my aim and desire, entirely and regularly the work of service,
I shall attain to my utmost spiritual hope and aspiration.
The servant of His Threshold,
Shoghi[247]
[247 Shoghi Effendi, quoted in ibid. p. 57.)]

Shoghi Effendi's absence from the Holy Land lasted only a few months. When he returned, he took the reins of the Cause of God in his hands and with great vigour and zeal directed its affairs uninterruptedly until the end of his life.

Opposition to the Guardian was not limited to Covenant-breakers residing in the Holy Land. Several believers raised their heads in violation of the Covenant in other parts of the world and began their onslaught against him from the early days of his ministry. One of the age-old factors which led certain believers to violate the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh was their ambition and pride in wanting to become leaders of the community and to obtain positions of importance in the Cause. The truth, however, is that the Bahá'í community has no leaders as such and those who are elected or appointed to administrative office are expected to be servants of the Cause, manifesting self-effacement, humility and detachment from the things of this world. An inherent characteristic of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is that it does not harbour egotistical personalities. Its watchword is the servitude exemplified by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whose supplication to God was to give Him 'to drink from the chalice of selflessness' and to make Him as 'dust' in the pathway of the loved ones of God.[248]
[248 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 320.]

Considering these attributes of servitude that must govern the activities of the friends, it is not surprising to witness the eventual downfall of those who, either through their folly or their ambition and pride, tried with all their power to introduce into the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh the concepts of leadership and dominance and to create the cult of personality within its ranks. In their struggle for power these people brought about severe crises in the community; they violated the Covenant, rose up against Shoghi Effendi and, in the end, tragically destroyed themselves.

Soon after Shoghi Effendi assumed the office of the Guardianship and while there was widespread expectation among the Bahá'ís of the immediate establishment of the Universal House of Justice, some individuals longed to become members of that august institution. One such person in the East was 'Abdu'l-Husayn, entitled by  294  'Abdu'l-Bahá Avarih (Wanderer). In the West it was Ahmad Sohrab. Both men were prominent teachers of the Faith, in Persia and North America respectively, and both had one thing in common: a passionate love of leadership.

Avarih was a native of the village of Taft in the province of Yazd. Before he embraced the Faith he was a Muslim clergyman. Soon after becoming a follower of Bahá'u'lláh he was recognized by the believers to be a man of learning and knowledge and became renowned as one of the erudite teachers of the Faith. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was fully aware of the vices and corrupt practices of this man, did not prevent him from serving the Cause, and as long as he acted faithfully in relation to the Faith, He encouraged him, praised his work and wrote several Tablets in his honour. However, from the beginning of his involvement with the Bahá'í Faith, Avarih displayed a pride and vanity that puzzled those Bahá'ís who were in close contact with him.

On 19 January 1922 Shoghi Effendi wrote a letter to the Persian believers stating that he would soon establish the Universal House of Justice. He then called a number of well-known believers to the Holy Land in March 1922 for consultation. Among these was Avarih, who arrived late. Many of the believers, including Avarih, thought that Shoghi Effendi should call for the election of the Universal House of Justice immediately. However, it became apparent to Shoghi Effendi that the election of that body had to wait until such time as local and national spiritual assemblies could be formed in various countries and were fully functioning. But Avarih, dissatisfied with this decision, was still determined to press his point of view.

Following Avarih's short stay in the Holy Land, he travelled to England in January 1923 and soon after he went to Egypt. During the few months that he remained in Cairo, he created dissension and disunity among the believers to such an extent that the Spiritual Assembly of Cairo complained to Shoghi Effendi. Thus he was invited to return to the Holy Land. Here he questioned the authenticity of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá but was satisfied when shown the original copy in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's handwriting. He then met with the Greatest Holy Leaf and reiterated to her his opinion that Shoghi Effendi should be advised to call for the election of the Universal House of Justice. He is reported to have uttered a veiled threat that if his demand were not acted upon, he would have no choice but to arouse the Bahá'ís of Persia to rebel against the Guardian.

In the meantime, he wrote letters to the believers expressing his dissatisfaction with the way the affairs of the Cause were being conducted. Upon his arrival in Persia he began propagating his misconceived ideas aimed at creating division among the friends there, with the result that in May 1924 the Spiritual Assembly of  295  Tihran sought guidance from the Guardian about to how to deal with Avarih. The response was that the friends must be protected from his misguided intentions.

This clear violation of the Covenant isolated Avarih from the believers. Even his wife left him and refused to associate with him. Soon he changed his tactics and wrote a series of letters to various members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family, saying that there had been misunderstandings and suggesting that if Shoghi Effendi were willing to arrange an annual income for him, he would alter his attitude and stop his activities against the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

Covenant-breaking is a spiritual disease and those who are affected by it are victims of their own selfish ambitions. It is only through a real awakening of the soul and the recognition of his transgressions against God that a Covenant-breaker can find the urge to repent. When the repentant is sincere, God will forgive his past deeds and restore his spiritual health, and indeed, there were a number of Covenant-breakers who were forgiven in this way by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.

In the several letters Avarih wrote asking for reinstatement, however, there was no expression of repentance, and when he received no positive response, he unveiled his satanic nature and wrote abusive letters to Shoghi Effendi, using offensive language and vowing to destroy the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh altogether. There was never among the Covenant-breakers during Shoghi Effendi's ministry a man so vile and hypocritical as he.

had founded.

Another unrepentant Covenant-breaker was the notorious Majdu'd-Din, son of the faithful brother of Bahá'u'lláh, Aqay-i-Kalim. He was an inveterate enemy of the Master and later of Shoghi Effendi. He lived to an old age and was one of those who succeeded in spreading the poison of Covenant-breaking among the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He died in 1955, realizing the futility of his deeds and witnessing the triumph of the Cause on the global scale.

Haji Siyyid 'Ali Afnan, a brief account of whose life appears in chapter 13, was yet another veteran Covenant-breaker. The members  304  of his family were chiefly responsible for delivering the most painful blows to the person of Shoghi Effendi.

When Shoghi Effendi became the Guardian of the Faith, the family of the Master were expected to turn to him devotedly in a spirit of lowliness and humility, as true believers did. But of course this was not easy for his brothers, sisters and cousins to do. After all, Shoghi Effendi had grown up with them and they were his peers and next of kin. Although they acknowledged his appointment and outwardly showed their submissiveness to him, it was obvious from the very beginning that they were not sincere in their hearts.

During the first few years of the ministry of Shoghi Effendi his family remained outwardly loyal but the seed of rebellion and Covenant-breaking had been planted in their hearts, only needing time to germinate and bring forth the fruit of sedition and opposition. In direct contrast stood the Greatest Holy Leaf. Although she was the most venerable member of the Holy Family and the most outstanding woman in the Bahá'í era and had seen Shoghi Effendi grow up in the household of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, yet she turned to him in a spirit of devotion and humility. She did this because she believed the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that Shoghi Effendi was the Guardian of the Cause and the 'sign of God' on earth. In His Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá exhorts the believers 'to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him'.[255]
[255 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, para. 17.]

Shoghi Effendi's attitude towards the followers of Bahá'u'lláh who turned devotedly to him in the spirit of the Master's exhortation was absolute love and humility. Unlike some of the world leaders who show an air of superiority and authoritarianism to their subjects, Shoghi Effendi extended to all the believers, and especially to his relatives, the hand of fellowship and brotherhood. To the Western Bahá'ís he often signed himself 'Your true brother, Shoghi', and in his Persian letters, 'The servant of His ['Abdu'l-Bahá's] Threshold'.

Yet Shoghi Effendi's relatives did not respond with sincerity and faithfulness to his meekness and magnanimity. Knowing very well that most of the members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family were not able to turn to him as befitted his station as Guardian, Shoghi Effendi turned a blind eye to their aloofness and instead showed them extra warmth and encouragement. But he could see their insincerity from the very start, and although he looked upon them with a sin-covering eye, he suffered immensely. This suffering did not stem from the fact that they did not obey him personally but because the Will and Testament enjoined them to be obedient to the Guardian and he knew that as Guardian he would have to expel them from the Faith if they continued in this way.

 305 

For several years Shoghi Effendi called on the services of his close relatives in the work of the Faith in the Holy Land. His younger brother Husayn and some of his cousins served him as secretaries. He bore with resignation and forbearance all of their deceitful and faithless actions and their disobedience to him as Guardian.

In the early years of the Guardianship, through the influence of the Greatest Holy Leaf, everyone in the household of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, even though insincere, rallied around Shoghi Effendi. The Greatest Holy Leaf acted as a shield for 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family, all of whom stood firm against the company of the old Covenant-breakers, who were the only people who publicly opposed the Cause and the person of the Guardian.

The passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf in 1932 caused untold sorrow to Shoghi Effendi and broke his heart forever. He built a befitting monument over her resting place in the vicinity of the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel. With her passing, the great shield protecting the members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family was removed. Then, six years after Bahiyyih Khanum, in 1938, Munirih Khanum passed away. She and 'Abdu'l-Bahá had four surviving daughters; they were all married and between them had 13 children, of whom Shoghi Effendi was the eldest. The remaining 12, one by one, rebelled against him and were expelled from the Faith. The other members of the family were likewise disobedient to Shoghi Effendi; in some cases, he denounced them as Covenant-breakers and in others he remained silent about their status.

The eldest daughter of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was Diya'iyyih Khanum, who married Mirza Hadi, an Afnan and a grandson of Haji Mirza Abu'l-Qasim, a brother of the wife of the Báb. This marriage brought forth three sons, Shoghi Effendi, Husayn and Riaz, and two daughters, Ruhangiz and Mehrangiz. Their family name was Rabbani, a name given them by 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Tuba Khanum married Mirza Muhsin, an Afnan, a son of Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan (the Great Afnan), the other brother of the wife of the Báb. They had three sons, Ruhi, Suhayl and Fu'ad, and one daughter, Thurayya. Their family name was Afnan.

Ruha Khanum married Mirza Jalal, the son of the 'King of Martyrs'. They had two sons, Munib and Hasan, and two daughters, Maryam and Zahra. Their family name was Shahid (Martyr).

Munavvar Khanum married Ahmad Yazdi, the youngest son of Haji 'Abdu'r-Rahim-i-Qannad. They had no children.

Every member of the Master's family knew well that the old Covenant-breakers were all deadly enemies of the Master and of the Faith and were to be shunned as He had directed. They had not associated with them during the lifetime of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and they did not do so  306  in the early years of Shoghi Effendi's ministry. It did not take very long, however, before secret ties were established between the old Covenant-breakers and certain members of the Master's family. As if a virus had attacked, the disease of Covenant-breaking spread and eventually infected all the surviving members of that noble family, sparing no one. This grievous downfall occurred because of their disobedience to the commandment to shun the Covenant-breakers. How clearly 'Abdu'l-Bahá admonishes the believers to avoid associating with them! In His Will and Testament, He thus enjoins:

38-WT And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental
principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the
Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of
God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts
exerted in the past.

And in another passage He repeats the same injunction:

52-WT Hence, the beloved of the Lord must entirely shun them,
avoid them, foil their machinations and evil whisperings, guard
the Law of God and His religion, engage one and all in diffusing
widely the sweet savours of God and to the best of their
endeavour proclaim His Teachings.

It is clear, then, that the most obvious reason why the members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family failed to obey the Master was their lack of faith in Him and in His words.

'Abdu'l-Bahá wanted his family to turn to Shoghi Effendi in a spirit of devotion and servitude. In His Will and Testament He warned them in clear and unequivocal language that if they turned away from him, disobeyed him or contended with him, they had turned away, disobeyed and contended with God. Yet they chose to disregard the exhortations of the Master and rose up in open opposition against Shoghi Effendi.

The tragic spiritual extinction of the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá as its members fell, one by one, victim to the devouring flames of Covenant-breaking, left Shoghi Effendi entirely on his own. Over the years, his brothers and sisters, his several cousins, his aunts (the daughters of 'Abdu'l-Bahá) and other relatives were cut off from the tree of the Cause. As they rebelled against him, the Guardian tried his utmost to save them. He even refrained from disclosing their rebellion to the community for a considerable period of time. Instead he ignored their insults and endured their despicable conduct in silence until, at the  307  end, he was left with no choice but to declare them Covenant-breakers and announce this to the Bahá'í world.[*]
[* For the text of these announcements and other details of Covenant-breaking by members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family and their expulsion from the Faith, see Taherzadeh, Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, chapter 32.]

Every one of these messages sent by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í world at different times during his ministry was the consequence of many agonizing episodes of Covenant-breaking, acts of opposition, betrayal and open defiance by the members of the family of the Master. But far from weakening the fabric the Bahá'í community, the defection of these family members and that of some outstanding Bahá'ís who broke the Covenant strengthened and invigorated it. Through such a cleansing process the impurities are expelled from the body of the Cause.

As for the effect of the Covenant-breakers' rebellion, Shoghi Effendi wrote:

We should also view as a blessing in disguise every storm of mischief
with which they who apostatize their faith or claim to be its
faithful exponents assail it from time to time. Instead of undermining
the Faith, such assaults, both from within and from without,
reinforce its foundations, and excite the intensity of its flame.
Designed to becloud its radiance, they proclaim to all the world
the exalted character of its precepts, the completeness of its unity,
the uniqueness of its position, and the pervasiveness of its
influence.[256]
[256 Shoghi Effendi, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 120-1.]

In 1948 a fierce political upheaval erupted in the Holy Land. The State of Israel was founded, bringing an end to the British Mandate. War broke out between Arabs and Jews and a great many Arabs fled the country. During this period Shoghi Effendi remained in Haifa and, in the face of great dangers and severe difficulties, carried on his work as usual, including the building of the superstructure of the Shrine of the Báb. But the rest of the family, who were Covenant-breakers, allied themselves with the Arab community and fled the land. Among them were the family of Mirza Jalal Shahid, which included Ruha Khanum, the daughter of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; Tuba Khanum, another daughter of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and her son Ruhi, his wife Zahra and his brother; three cousins of Dr Farid; and Nayyir Afnan, his wife Ruhangiz (sister of Shoghi Effendi) and their children. Others who fled to Lebanon were Badi'u'llah (next in command to the Arch-breaker of the Covenant) and his relatives, together with those Bahá'ís who were disloyal to Shoghi Effendi. As time went on these people, who were already cut off from the Holy Family by virtue  308  of their association with the enemies of the Faith, integrated themselves into Islamic society.

Although the Cause of God benefits from the expulsion of unfaithful individuals who break the Covenant, the Centre of the Faith is the one who suffers most. In the case of Shoghi Effendi, this suffering was deepened by the fact that he was duty bound, by virtue of his position as Guardian of the Faith, to expel his closest loved ones. We cannot estimate the agony Shoghi Effendi must have undergone when he had to expel his brothers, sisters and aunts from the Faith.

Among those instrumental in raising up the spirit of Covenant-breaking, which had lain dormant within the hearts of most members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family during the early years of Shoghi Effendi's ministry, were the family of Siyyid 'Ali Afnan, an inveterate adversary of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.[*] Now his sons -- the grandchildren of Bahá'u'lláh, all Covenant-breakers -- inflicted the greatest injury upon the person of Shoghi Effendi.
[* See chapter 13.]

Shoghi Effendi was dealt a great blow when Ruhangiz, his eldest sister, married the second son of Siyyid 'Ali, Nayyir Afnan, who proved to be the greatest enemy of Shoghi Effendi throughout his ministry. This marriage created an unprecedented convulsion in the family and was followed by two similar marriages, one between the Covenant-breaker Hasan, another son of Siyyid 'Ali, and Mehrangiz, the younger sister of Shoghi Effendi, and the other between another son, Faydi, and Thurayya, Shoghi Effendi's cousin. Shoghi Effendi refers to Nayyir as the 'pivot of machinations, connecting link between old and new Covenant-breakers'. He wrote: 'Time alone will reveal extent of havoc wreaked by this virus of violation injected, fostered over two decades in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family.'[257]
[257 Cablegram of Shoghi Effendi, 5 April 1952, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 24-5.]

These inroads made by the old Covenant-breakers into the family of 'Abdu'l-Bahá were fatal and soon most of its members became Covenant-breakers. Ruhiyyih Khanum writes the following about the effect of the Covenant-breaking in the household of the Master:

But the tale of defections such as these does not convey the true
picture of what Covenant-breaking signified in the ministry of
Shoghi Effendi. To understand that one must understand the old
story of Cain and Abel, the story of family jealousies which, like
a sombre thread in the fabric of history, runs through all its epochs
and can be traced in all its events. Ever since the opposition of the
younger brother of Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Yahya, the poison of
Covenant-breaking, which is opposition to the Centre of the Covenant,
entered the Faith and remained. It is difficult for those who have
neither experienced what this disease is, nor devoted any consideration
 309 
to the subject, to grasp the reality of the power for destruction
it possesses. All the members of the family of Bahá'u'lláh grew up
in the shadow of Covenant-breaking. The storms, separations,
reconciliations, final sundering of ties, which are involved when
a close, distinguished and often dear relative is dying spiritually
of a spiritual disease, are inconceivable to one who has not experienced
them...

It looks simple on paper. But when year after year a house is
torn by heart-breaking emotions, shaken by scenes that leave one's
brain numb, one's nerves decimated and one's feelings in a turmoil,
it is not simple, it is just plain hell. Before a patient lies on
the operating table and the offending part is removed there is a
long process of delay, of therapeutic effort to remedy the disease,
of hope for recovery. So it is with Covenant-breaking; the taint is
detected; warning, remonstrance, advice follow; it seems better;
it breaks out again, worse than before; convulsive situations arise  --
repentance, forgiveness follow -- and then all over again, the same
thing, worse than before, recommences. With infinite variations
this is what took place in the lifetimes of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá
and Shoghi Effendi.[258]
[258 Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 121-2.]

In the following passage Ruhiyyih Khanum shares her insights as to how the Centre of the Faith reacts when confronted with the unfaithful who rise in opposition to the Cause:

Whereas we ordinary human beings react in one way, these extraordinary
human beings react in an entirely different way. They
are, in such matters -- however great the difference in their own
stations -- entirely different from us. I used to wonder, in the early
years of my life with the Guardian, why he got so terribly upset by
these happenings, why he reacted so violently to them, why he
would be prostrated from evidences of Covenant-breaking. Gradually
I came to understand that such beings, so different from us,
have some sort of mysterious built-in scales in their very souls;
automatically they register the spiritual state of others, just as one
side of a scale goes down instantly if you put something in it
because of the imbalance this creates. We individual Bahá'ís are
like the fish in the sea of the Cause, but these beings are like the
sea itself, any alien element in the sea of the Cause, so to speak,
with which, because of their nature, they are wholly identified,
produces an automatic reaction on their part; the sea casts out its
dead.[259]
[259 ibid. pp. 122-3. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl.)]

The Covenant-breakers struggled continually to hurt Shoghi Effendi in whatever way they could. They attacked him from every direction and inflicted unbearable pain upon him, while he resisted their onslaught until they were vanquished one by one. In 1957, a few months before he passed away, he accomplished the task of removing  310  once and for all the last traces of the Covenant-breakers' evil influence from the Holy Land. During his development of the gardens around the Mansion of Bahji, he had made repeated efforts to secure from the government orders for demolition of the Covenant-breakers' houses around the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. The following is part of the cable Shoghi Effendi sent in June 1957 to the Bahá'í world when he achieved this goal.

With feelings of profound joy, exultation and thankfulness, announce
on morrow of sixty-fifth Anniversary of Ascension of
Bahá'u'lláh, signal, epoch-making victory won over the ignoble
band of breakers of His Covenant which, in the course of over six
decades, has entrenched itself in the precincts of the Most Holy
Shrine of the Bahá'í world, provoking through acts of overt hostility
and ingenious machinations, in alliance with external enemies
under three successive regimes, the wrath of the Lord of the Covenant
Himself, incurring the malediction of the Concourse on
high, and filling with inexpressible anguish the heart of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

The expropriation order issued by the Israeli government,
mentioned in the recent Convention Message, related to the entire
property owned by Covenant-breakers within the Haram-i-Aqdas,
recently contested by these same enemies through appeal to
Israel's Supreme Court, now confirmed through adverse decision
just announced by same Court, enabling the civil authorities to
enforce the original decision and proceed with the eviction of the
wretched remnants of the once redoubtable adversaries who, both
within the Holy Land and beyond its confines, laboured so long
and so assiduously to disrupt the foundations of the Faith, sap their
loyalty and cause a permanent cleavage in the ranks of its supporters...

The implementation of this order will, at long last, cleanse the
Outer Sanctuary of the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world of the pollution
staining the fair name of the Faith and pave the way for the adoption
and execution of preliminary measures designed to herald the
construction in future decades of the stately, befitting Mausoleum
designed to enshrine the holiest dust the earth ever received into
its bosom.[260]
[260 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 3 June 1957, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 120-2.]

Obtaining this expropriation order was Shoghi Effendi's last act in rooting out the nests of corruption and hatred that had plagued the holiest Shrine of the Bahá'í world for over six decades. During this time countless schemes had been devised against 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi by the Arch-breaker of the Covenant, his kinsmen and associates, and by enemies of the Faith. Today no trace of any of them remains in the areas surrounding the Shrine.

Turning to Shoghi Effendi

17-WT It is incumbent upon the members of the House of
Justice, upon all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause
of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination
unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and
be lowly before him.

News of the appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Faith was hailed by Bahá'ís all over the world who, as bidden by the Master in His Will and Testament, turned to Him with devotion and loyalty. This act endowed the community of the Most Great Name with tremendous potentialities for progress and bestowed upon the believers a fresh outpouring of divine bounties which, in turn, strengthened their faith. While a believer's faith depends upon the measure of his love for Bahá'u'lláh, that love cannot be realized unless the individual turns to the Guardian with devotion, humility and lowliness as exhorted by the Master in His Will and Testament. For how could one claim to love the Blessed Beauty while disregarding the authority of the very person who is infallibly guided by Bahá'u'lláh and is the Sign of God on earth?

Stories of the love and dedication which the believers in general, and the Hands of the Cause in particular, evinced towards Shoghi Effendi are numerous and heartwarming. In the East, the believers' enthusiasm knew no bounds. They carried out his instructions faithfully and, in many cases, suffered severe persecution in the accomplishment of various undertakings. Great numbers of Bahá'ís wrote to Shoghi Effendi and expressed their loyalty to him, while many with able pens expressed their deep love in verse and prose that were published within the community. Some had met Shoghi Effendi, knew him personally and had perceived even during his childhood that he would be the successor of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

As mentioned in chapter 27, the famous Bahá'í poet 'Andalib composed a delightful lullaby as Shoghi Effendi lay in his cradle, foretelling a glorious future for him. Another story of this kind of spiritual perceptiveness involves Dr Yunis Khan, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's trusted secretary and translator for some years, who used to correspond  312  with the believers in the West. Once he received a letter from an American believer saying that some of the friends had heard that the Master's successor had recently been born and asking him to confirm this. Dr Khan found it very difficult to mention this to 'Abdu'l-Bahá because he could not bear to think of the day when the Master would pass away, so he kept this matter to himself and was uncertain how to speak about it. Eventually he mustered his courage. Timorously and in a low voice, he asked the question. 'Abdu'l-Bahá responded affirmatively, saying, 'The triumph of the Cause is in his hands.'

Dr Khan knew who the child was and had previously had an experience of profound spiritual upliftment while visiting the infant Shoghi Effendi. Although he tried to put the matter out of his mind, as he believed it was unforgivable to pay attention to anyone except the Master during His lifetime, nevertheless he told Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali about the feelings he had experienced seeing Shoghi Effendi in his cradle -- and discovered that the Haji also had a similar experience. Thus, from the early days of Shoghi Effendi's life, the seed of love for him was planted in the hearts of a great many believers in the East. This is why his appointment as the Guardian of the Cause was greeted enthusiastically by the entire community of the Bahá'ís of Persia.

In the West the believers turned to Shoghi Effendi in obedience to the words of the Master but it took some time before they recognized him as a person endowed with God-given powers and virtues. As the believers met him and became enchanted with his personality, they recounted to the friends their stories of utter devotion to him, which in turn led the Bahá'ís of the West to acquire a deeper attachment to and love for him.

The following testimonials from some of the prominent believers, including the Hands of the Cause, demonstrate the extent of love and adoration felt for the Guardian by the believers in the West.

Mountfort Mills, an outstanding believer who served the Guardian ably and with great devotion, spoke to the friends on 22 April 1922, having met Shoghi Effendi a few months after the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:

...We met Shoghi Effendi, dressed entirely in black, a touching
figure. Think of what he stands for today! All the complex problems
of the great statesmen of the world are as child's play in
comparison with the great problems of this youth, before whom
are the problems of the entire world. He is a youth of twenty-six,
left by the will of the Master as the Guardian of the Cause. No one
 313 
can form any conception of his difficulties, which are overwhelming.

We received his joyous, hearty hand grasp and our meeting was
short. A bouquet was sent to our room in the form of a young tree
filled with nectarines or tangerines. It was brought by Mr Fugeta.
We awoke without any sense of sadness. That feeling was entirely
gone. The Master is not gone. His Spirit is present with greater
intensity and power, freed from bodily limitations. We can take it
into our own hearts and reflect it in greater degrees. In the center
of this radiation stands this youth, Shoghi Effendi. The Spirit
streams forth from this young man. He is indeed young in face,
form and manner, yet his heart is the centre of the world today.
The character and spirit divine scintillate from him today. He
alone can today save the world and make true civilization. So
humble, meek, selfless is he that it is touching to see him. His
letters are a marvel. It is the great wisdom of God in granting us
the countenance of this great central point of guidance to meet
difficult problems. These problems, much like ours, come to him
from all parts of the world. They are met and solved by him in the
most informal way.[261]
[261 Mills, quoted in Giachery, Shoghi Effendi, p. 189.]

In 1926 Hand of the Cause Mrs Keith Ransom-Kehler wrote:

The unique and outstanding figure in the world today is Shoghi
Effendi. Unique, because the guardianship of this great Cause is
in his hands and his humility, modesty, economy and self-effacement
are monumental. Outstanding because he is the only person,
we may safely say, who entrusted with the affairs of millions of
souls, has but one thought and one mind -- the speedy promulgation
of peace and goodwill throughout the world. His personal life
is absolutely and definitely sacrificed... The world, its politics,
social relationships, economic situations, schemes, plans, aspirations,
programmes, defects, successes, lie under his scrutiny like
infusoria beneath a microscope.

...Shoghi Effendi is the Commander-in-chief of this great new
army of faith and strength that is moving forth to vanquish the
malevolent forces of life.[262]
[262 Ransom-Kehler, in ibid. pp. 192-3. (quoted in Giachery, Shoghi Effendi.)]

And Hand of the Cause Dr Ugo Giachery left this account:

Of all the characteristics that Shoghi Effendi possessed, the one
that I believe was at the very core of his personality and was deeply
rooted in his soul was the immense faith he had, his complete
reliance on the efficacy of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. He clung to His
Teachings with a tenacity that cannot be likened to anything.
His whole being was permeated with the power of the Revelation,
and this is the reason that all who came near him or in contact with
him felt so safe, so assured, so regenerated. For the same reason,
 314 
scheming individuals who inclined towards evil-doing or deceit
could not remain long in his presence and went away frightened,
bewildered and chastened. During my years of association with
Shoghi Effendi I experienced, over and over again, the power
emanating from his belief, a power that removed difficulties,
brought unexpected happy solutions and paved the way to better
and greater achievements...

At this point I would like to illustrate still another of the
spiritual virtues of Shoghi Effendi, which I had noticed before but
which, during that vital conversation, became evident in all its
strength and delicacy; namely, the capacity to separate himself as
a man from Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Cause of God.
When he spoke of the labours, duties, plans, present and future,
the inspiration, the decisions of the Guardian, he was so impersonal
that one could have believed he was speaking of another
person. This endeared him even more, because to find such a
balance of humility and greatness, of objectivity and selflessness
coupled with a fertile, creative and poetic mind is one of the rare
happenings in thousands of years. I have used the word delicacy,
because in all his thought and action there was no affectation or
remote trace of pride or vainglory. An illuminating example of this
is to be found in one of his masterly letters, The Dispensation of
Bahá'u'lláh, in the section on the Administrative Order wherein
is described the station of the Guardian...

Humility of a kind not yet known elsewhere was one of Shoghi
Effendi's many unique virtues, a humility which came from the
conviction that man's faculties are not self-created but are a precious
trust from God, not to be displayed or used overbearingly
or with vanity. And yet he emanated true pride and dignity, such
a regal dignity that raised him far above any man I have yet met
or known.

When conversing with him, one could strongly sense this feeing
of humility, while his ample brow and penetrating eyes reflected
an inner light born of faith, courage and determination. One could
feel an awareness that was amazing and rendered one speechless.

Shoghi Effendi's selflessness was not only outstanding but
exemplary. He never placed his personal interests or desires ahead
of his functions as Guardian...

If one were to relate in detail the manifold aspects of the
personality of Shoghi Effendi which like facets of a perfectly cut
gem reflected the rays of divine light and inspiration, many
volumes would not suffice. I firmly believe that psychologists will
come to agree with the point of view that while human beings,
generally, react in a voluntary or semi-voluntary way to circumstance,
situations, inspiration and even to what may be considered
illumination from the Divinity, Shoghi Effendi, like a sensitive
instrument connected to the Source of all powers, reacted involuntarily,
to the most imperceptible spiritual impulse which activated
his organism, making him capable of executing and discharging
 315 
all functions and responsibilities related to the Cause of God
without the slightest probability of error.

This analysis, made at the very first meeting with him, explained
to me clearly and conclusively the meaning of divine
guidance and infallibility...[263]
[263 Giachery, in ibid. pp. 16-20. (Giachery, Shoghi Effendi.)]

Finally, a tribute was paid to Shoghi Effendi less than a year after his passing in an address delivered by Hand of the Cause Amelia Collins at the International Bahá'í Conference held in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, which she attended as the chosen representative of Shoghi Effendi. It provides ample testimony that the Hands of the Cause faithfully carried out the exhortations of the Master 'to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him'. Mrs Collins spoke as follows:

How can I ever find words to bring you what is in my heart about
our beloved Guardian! I feel we must each so fill ourselves at this
time with his spirit and his wishes that it will carry us through the
next five years of the glorious Crusade he initiated and enable us
to consummate his every hope and wish. This, the fulfilment of his
own Plan, is the living memorial we must build in his memory.

When I first heard of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, I was a very
young believer and after the provisions of His will became known,
my whole heart and soul turned to that youthful Branch, appointed
by Him to watch over and guide the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. How I
prayed that God would help me to make him happy!

In 1923 I first met our beloved Guardian in Haifa. He was just
a young man then, full of determination to carry forward the great
work entrusted to his care. He was so spontaneous, so trusting and
loving and outgoing in the buoyancy of his beautiful heart.
Through the years we all watched with wonder and ever-deepening
devotion to him and appreciation of his God-given gifts, the
unfoldment of Bahá'u'lláh's Divine Order which he built up so
patiently and wisely all over the world. But, oh friends, at what
great cost to himself!

In 1951, when the beloved Guardian called some of the friends
to serve in Haifa, I began to learn of what he had passed through.
His face was sad, one could see his very spirit had been heavily
oppressed by the agony he went through for years during the
period when the family pursued their own desires and finally
abandoned the work of the Faith and their Guardian to go their
own way. I can truthfully say that for a number of years we who
served him at the World Centre seldom saw him smile, and very
often he poured out to us his woes and confided some of the things
he had passed through. I do not know in any great detail the day
to day afflictions of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, but sometimes
 316 
I wonder if they could have been any more heartbreaking than
those of our beloved Shoghi Effendi.

The Guardian had a profound and innate humility. Whenever
the Faith was involved, he was fiery in its defence, kinglike in the
loftiness of his bearing, the authority with which he spoke. But as
a human being he was self-effacing, would brush aside our adulation
and praise, turn everything we wished to shower on him
towards the central figures of our Faith. We all know this characteristic
of his, how he would never allow any photographs to be taken
of himself, or give any of himself, but invariably encouraged the
friends to place the Master's picture in their rooms; how he would
not allow anyone to have his clothes or personal things lest they
be regarded as relics; how he disliked any signs of personal worship
 -- though he could never control what was in our hearts for
him!

The Master said: 'O ye the faithful loved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá!
It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi
Effendi ... that no dust of despondency and sorrow may stain his
radiant nature...' Neither his family, nor the people of the world,
nor I am afraid we Bahá'ís, protected that radiant heart of Shoghi
Effendi.

After the years of sorrow and trial he went through with the
family after his final separation from them, there came a new joy
and hope to our beloved Guardian. The rapid progress made in
the attainment of so many of the goals of the World Crusade lifted
him up. How can I ever describe to you his eyes when he would
come over to the Pilgrim House and announce to us a new achievement;
they sparkled with light and enthusiasm and his beautiful
face would be all smiles. Often he would send over one of his maps
and when it was spread out on the dining table, his finger, full of
infinite strength, insistence and determination, would point out
the new territory opened, the new Haziratu'l-Quds purchased, the
new language translated, as the case might be. I feel it would be
no exaggeration to say that it was the progress of the Ten Year Plan
that gave him the encouragement to go on working so hard, for
he was very tired. More than once he said during the last year of
his life, that his ministry had lasted longer than that of either
Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and complained of the crushing
burden, but none of us could foresee it presaged his release, that
he was burned out with thirty-six years of struggle, of constant
work, of sorrow and self-sacrifice.

, Herman [sic] Grossmann, Ugo Giachery. Nine elevated
to rank of Hand in three continents outside Holy Land
advised remain present posts and continue discharge vital administrative,
teaching duties pending assignment of specific functions
as need arises. Urge all nine attend as my representatives all four
forthcoming intercontinental conferences as well as discharge
whatever responsibilities incumbent upon them at that time as
elected representatives of national Bahá'í communities.[274]
[274 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 24 December 1951, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World. p. 20.]

In this message mention is made of the formation of the International Bahá'í Council. This appointed body was also created in 1951. Its membership included Ruhiyyih Khanum, Mason Remey, Amelia Collins, Leroy Ioas and Ugo Giachery, who was designated as 'member-at-large'. Later its membership was increased to nine. Concerning this institution the Guardian wrote:

Hail with thankful, joyous heart at long last the constitution of
International Council which history will acclaim as the greatest
 332 
event shedding lustre upon second Epoch of Formative Age of
Bahá'í Dispensation potentially unsurpassed by any enterprise
undertaken since inception of Administrative Order of Faith on
morrow of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Ascension, ranking second only to
glorious immortal events associated with Ministries of the Three
Central Figures of Faith...[275]
[275 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 9 January 1951, in ibid. p. 8. (Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

And concerning the functions of the International Council he wrote:

Nascent Institution now created is invested with threefold function:
first, to forge link with authorities of newly emerged State; second,
to assist me to discharge responsibilities involved in erection of
mighty superstructure of the Báb's Holy Shrine; third, to conduct
negotiations related to matters of personal status with civil
authorities.[276]
[276 ibid. p. 7. (Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 9 January 19151, Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

The International Bahá'í Council, working under the direction of Shoghi Effendi, rendered him valuable services by carrying out important tasks in the Holy Land, which resulted in the further strengthening of the World Centre of the Faith.

In his writings Shoghi Effendi attached great importance to the International Council, which was to evolve by stages into the Universal House of Justice. The first stage was the Council in its initial form as an appointed body. The second stage was its evolution into an elected body. This took place in 1961, during the Custodianship of the Hands of the Cause, when the national spiritual assemblies throughout the world elected a nine-member Council. The third stage was for the Council to be transformed into the International Bahá'í Court[*] in Israel, and the fourth stage was to be the establishment of the Universal House of Justice. The third stage did not materialize because after the passing of Shoghi Effendi, when the Hands of the Cause investigated the matter through legal channels, they found that the prerogatives and privileges that could legally be granted to a Bahá'í Court were inadequate and unbefitting the prestige of the Faith. The International Council ceased to exist with the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963.
[* In Islamic countries and in Israel there are religious courts legally recognized to administer matters in the context of religious law.]

The presence of the Hands of the Cause and members of the International Bahá'í Council in the Holy Land who were engaged in rendering various forms of service to Shoghi Effendi unfortunately did not reduce his workload. On the contrary, it was increased. In the latter part of Shoghi Effendi's ministry the Bahá'í world had grown enormously and the local and national institutions of the Faith had  333  multiplied. The World Centre had also grown. The construction of the Shrine of the Báb, the terraces and the Archives Building, the beautification of the gardens in Haifa and Bahji and the strengthening of ties with the government of Israel all brought in their wake heavier burdens to be borne by Shoghi Effendi in the last years of his ministry.

Ruhiyyih Khanum describes the manner in which the Guardian directed the work of the International Bahá'í Council:

In its functions the International Bahá'í Council acted as that
Secretariat the Guardian, so many years earlier, had desired to
establish; its members received their instructions from him individually,
in the informal atmosphere of the dinners at the Pilgrim
House table, and not formally as a body; its meetings were infrequent
as all its members were kept constantly busy with the many
tasks allotted to them by the Guardian himself. Skilfully Shoghi
Effendi used this new institution to create in the minds of government
and city officials the image of a body of an international
character handling the administrative affairs at the World Centre.
It was no concern of the public how much or how little that body
had authority; we who were on it knew Shoghi Effendi was everything;
the public, however, began to see an image which could
evolve later into the Universal House of Justice.[277]
[277 Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 253.]

It is important to realize that whoever was given the privilege to work with the Guardian was never in a position to make a decision for him. It was he and he alone who directed the affairs of the Cause. Unlike world leaders who often authorize their subordinates to make decisions, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi were the sole decision-makers because they alone were the recipients of divine guidance. Indeed, the writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi are all products of that infallible guidance conferred upon them by the Author of the Faith Himself.

In a cablegram sent on 29 February 1952 the Guardian announced the appointment of seven new Hands of the Cause:

Announce friends East and West, through National Assemblies,
following nominations raising the number of the present Hands
of the Cause of God to nineteen. Dominion Canada and United
States, Fred Schopflocher and Corinne True, respectively. Cradle
of Faith, Dhikru'llah Khadem, Shu'a'u'llah [sic] 'Ala'i. Germany,
Africa, Australia, Adelbert Muhlschlegel, Musa Banani Clara Dunn,
respectively. Members august body invested in conformity with
'Abdu'l-Bahá's Testament, twofold sacred function, the propagation
and preservation of the unity of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and
destined to assume individually in the course of time the direction
of institutions paralleling those revolving around the Universal
House of Justice, the supreme legislative body of the Bahá'í world,
 334 
are now recruited from all five continents of the globe and
representative of the three principal world religions of mankind.[278]
[278 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 29 February 1952, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 20-1.]

Soon after this announcement William Sutherland Maxwell passed away. The Guardian appointed Mr Maxwell's illustrious daughter Ruhiyyih Khanum a Hand of the Cause in his place and sent the following message to the Bahá'í world on 26 March 1952:

With sorrowful heart announce through national assemblies that
Hand of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, highly esteemed, dearly beloved
Sutherland Maxwell, has been gathered into the glory of the Abha
Kingdom. His saintly life, extending well nigh four score years,
enriched during the course of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry by services
in the Dominion of Canada, ennobled during Formative Age of Faith
by decade of services in Holy Land, during darkest days of my life,
doubly honoured through association with the crown of martyrdom
won by May Maxwell and incomparable honour bestowed upon
his daughter, attained consummation through his appointment as
architect of the arcade and superstructure of the Báb's Sepulchre
as well as elevation to the front rank of the Hands of the Cause of
God. Advise all national assemblies to hold befitting memorial
gatherings particularly in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Wilmette and
in the Haziratu'l-Quds in Tihran.

Have instructed Hands of Cause in United States and Canada,
Horace Holley and Fred Schopflocher, to attend as my representatives
the funeral in Montreal. Moved to name after him the
southern door of the Báb's Tomb as tribute to his services to
second holiest Shrine of the Bahá'í world. The mantle of Hand of
Cause now falls upon the shoulders of his distinguished daughter,
Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih, who has already rendered and is still
rendering manifold no less meritorious self-sacrificing services at
World Centre of Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.[279]
[279 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 26 March 1952 in ibid. pp. 132-3. (Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

The next appointments were Jalal Khazeh, Paul Haney and 'Ali Muhammad Varqa in 1953, 1954 and 1955 respectively. The latter was appointed Trustee of Huququ'lláh and Hand of the Cause to succeed his father, Hand of the Cause Valiyu'llah Varqa, who passed away in November 1955.

On the passing of George Townshend, Agnes Alexander was appointed a Hand of the Cause and the Guardian sent the following cablegram to the Bahá'í world on 27 March 1957:

Inform Hands and national assemblies of the Bahá'í world of the
passing into Abha Kingdom of Hand of Cause George Townshend,
indefatigable, highly talented, fearless defender of the Faith of
Bahá'u'lláh.

 335 
Agnes Alexander, distinguished pioneer of the Faith, elevated
to rank of Hand of Cause. Confident her appointment will spiritually
reinforce teaching campaign simultaneously conducted in
north, south and heart of Pacific Ocean.[280]
[280 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 27 March 1957, in ibid. p. 174. (Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

A significant development in the unfoldment of the institution of the Hands of the Cause took place when the Guardian directed the Hands to appoint Auxiliary Boards in each continent of the globe to act as their deputies and advisers. He announced this decision in a cablegram on 6 April 1954. The following is the full text of that historic announcement:

To all the Hands of the Cause and all National Assemblies of the
Bahá'í World:

Hail emergence of the unfoldment in the opening years of the
second epoch of the formative age of the Bahá'í Dispensation of
the august Institution foreshadowed by the Founder of the Faith
and formally established in the Testament of the Centre of His
Covenant, closely associated in provisions of the same Will with
Institution of the Guardianship, destined to assume in the fullness
of time, under the aegis of the Guardian, the dual sacred responsibility
for protection and propagation of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.

Desire to pay warm tribute to the services rendered severally
and collectively by appointed hands at the World Centre of the
Faith and in territories beyond its confines.

Greatly value their support in the erection of the Báb's Sepulchre
on Mt. Carmel; in reinforcing ties with the newly emerged
State of Israel; in the extension of the International Endowments
in the Holy Land; in the initiation of the preliminary measures for
the establishment of the Bahá'í World Administrative Centre, as
well as in their participation in four successive intercontinental
Teaching Conferences; in their extensive travels in African territories,
in North, Central and South America, in the European,
Asiatic and Australian Continents.

This newly constituted body, embarked on its mission with such
auspicious circumstances, is now entering the second phase of its
evolution signalized by forging of its ties with the National Spiritual
Assemblies of the Bahá'í world for the purpose of lending
them assistance in attaining the objectives of the Ten Year Plan.

The hour is ripe for the fifteen Hands residing outside the Holy
Land to proceed during Ridvan with the appointment, in each
continent separately, from among the resident Bahá'ís of that
Continent, of Auxiliary Boards, whose members, acting as deputies,
assistants and advisers of the Hands, must increasingly lend their
assistance for the promotion of the interests of the Ten Year
Crusade.

 336 
Advise the Hands of the Asiatic, American and European
Continents to convene in Tihran, Wilmette and Frankfurt respectively
for the purposes of consultation and nomination.

The Hands of the Cause of the African and Australian Continents
must exercise their functions in Kampala and Sydney respectively.

The Auxiliary Boards of the American, European and African
Continents must consist of nine members each, of the Asiatic and
Australian continents of seven and two respectively.

The allocation of areas in each continent to the members of
the Auxiliary Boards, as well as subsidiary matters regarding the
development of the activities of the newly appointed bodies, and
the manner of collaboration with the National Spiritual Assemblies
in their respective Continents, is left to the discretion of the Hands.

All Boards must report and be responsible to the Hands
charged with their appointment.

The Hands of each Continent in their turn must keep in close
touch with, and report the result of the nominations and progress
of the activities of the Boards to the National Assemblies in
their respective continents, as well as to the four Hands residing
in the Holy Land destined to act as liaison between themselves and
the Guardian of the Faith.

Urge the initiation of five Continental Bahá'í Funds which, as
they develop, will increasingly facilitate the discharge of the
functions assigned to the Boards.

Transmitting five thousand pounds as my initial contribution
to be equally divided among the five Continents.

Appeal to the twelve National Assemblies and individuals to
insure a steady augmentation of these Funds through annual
assignment in National Budgets and by individual contributions.

Advise transmit contributions to Varqa, Holley, Giachery,
Banani and Dunn acting as Trustees of the Asiatic, American,
European, African and Australian Funds respectively.

Fervently supplicating at the Holy Threshold for an unprecedented
measure of blessings on this vital and indispensable organ
of the embryonic and steadily unfolding Bahá'í Administrative
Order, presaging the emergence of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
which must pave the way for the establishment of the World
Civilization destined to attain maturity in the course of successive
Dispensations in the Five Thousand Century Bahá'í Cycle.[281]
[281 Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 6 April 1954, in ibid. pp. 58-60. (Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

In a passage of the Will and Testament previously quoted, 'Abdu'l-Bahá warns:

Should any, within or without the company of the Hands of the
Cause of God disobey and seek division, the wrath of God and His
vengeance will be upon him, for he will have caused a breach in
the true Faith of God.

 337 

We have already mentioned a number of individuals, including the close relatives of Shoghi Effendi, who rebelled against the Guardian and were cast out of the community as Covenant-breakers. However, during the lifetime of Shoghi Effendi none of the Hands showed the slightest sign of disobedience to him. On the contrary, they demonstrated the utmost faithfulness to the Guardian and left for posterity a supreme example of loyalty and utter obedience to his directives. After the passing of Shoghi Effendi, however, one of the Hands, Mason Remey,[*] rebelled against the Covenant and was cast out of the community by the decision of the Hands of the Cause.
[* For further information about Mason Remey's violation of the Covenant see chapter 37.]

One month before his passing, the Guardian sent a moving message to the followers of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the world and in it appointed eight additional Hands of the Cause. After enumerating the manifold victories achieved during the first five years of the World Crusade, the Guardian stated:

So marvellous a progress, embracing so vast a field, achieved in
so short a time, by so small a band of heroic souls, well deserves,
at this juncture in the evolution of a decade-long Crusade, to be
signallized by, and indeed necessitates, the announcement of yet
another step in the progressive unfoldment of one of the cardinal
and pivotal institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh, and confirmed
in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá involving the designation
of yet another contingent of the Hands of the Cause of God,
raising thereby to thrice nine the total number of the Chief Stewards
of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth, who have
been invested by the unerring Pen of the Centre of His Covenant
with the dual function of guarding over the security, and of insuring
the propagation, of His Father's Faith.

The eight now elevated to this exalted rank are: Enoch Olinga,
William Sears, and John Robarts, in West and South Africa; Hasan
Balyuzi and John Ferraby in the British Isles; Collis Featherstone
and Rahmatu'llah Muhajir, in the Pacific area; and Abu'l-Qasim
Faizi in the Arabian Peninsula -- a group chosen from four continents
of the globe, and representing the Afnan, as well as the black
and white races and whose members are derived from Christian,
Muslim, Jewish and Pagan backgrounds.

This latest addition to the band of the high-ranking officers of
a fast evolving World Administrative Order, involving a further
expansion of the august institution of the Hands of the Cause of
God, calls for, in view of the recent assumption by them of their
sacred responsibility as protectors of the Faith, the appointment
by these same Hands, in each continent separately, of an additional
Auxiliary Board, equal in membership to the existing one, and
 338 
charged with the specific duty of watching over the security of the
Faith, thereby complementing the function of the original Board,
whose duty will henceforth be exclusively concerned with assisting
the prosecution of the Ten-Year Plan.[282]
[282 Letter of Shoghi Effendi, October 1957, in ibid. pp. 127-8. (Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

During the last six years of his ministry the Guardian showered his unfailing encouragement, loving guidance and inspiration upon the company of the Hands of the Cause and spurred them on to scale loftier heights of sacrifice and service in the promotion of the Cause. He addressed this last moving appeal to them a month before he passed away:

I call upon each and every Hand of the Cause of God, previously
or now appointed, upon the entire body of the believers participating
in this Crusade, and, in particular, upon their elected
representatives, the numbers of the various Regional and National
Spiritual Assemblies in both the East and the West, and,
even more emphatically, upon those privileged to convene and
organize these history-making Conferences, to bestir themselves,
and, according to their rank, capacity, function and resources,
befittingly prepare themselves, during the short interval separating
them from the opening of the first of these five Conferences,
to meet the challenge, an seize the opportunities, of this auspicious
hour, and insure, through a dazzling display of the qualities
which must distinguish a worthy stewardship of the Faith of
Bahá'u'lláh, the total and resounding success of these Conferences,
dedicated to the glorification of His Name, and expressly
convened for the purpose of accelerating the march of the institutions
of His world-redeeming Order, and of hastening the
establishment of His Kingdom in the hearts of men.[283]
[283 ibid. p. 130. (Letter of Shoghi Effendi, October 1957, (Messages to the Bahá'í World.)]

ceived the Tablet, Mirza Sadiq was exhilarated beyond words that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had responded to his questions; he went to his wife, prostrated himself at her feet and begged forgiveness for all the opposition that he had shown towards her.

In a later Tablet 'Abdu'l-Bahá reminded Mirza Sadiq that until this point no one had attempted to test a servant (i.e. 'Abdu'l-Bahá) by asking questions and receiving an answer. He reminded him that the same is true of a similar situation in the Qur'án. Having conveyed to him that it is not for man to test God, 'Abdu'l-Bahá mentioned that He has responded to his questions merely because of the wonderful services that his wife had rendered to the Cause. She suffered great persecution, remained steadfast in the face of severe opposition and demonstrated the staunchness of her faith. It was clear, 'Abdu'l-Bahá said, that her endeavours in the promotion of the Cause of God had not been in vain; rather, they would be rewarded in the Kingdom, were deeply appreciated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and were praised by all. In this Tablet 'Abdu'l-Bahá invited the couple to undertake a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh.

After visiting the Holy Shrines and the Master, both husband and wife returned home ablaze with the fire of love for the Master and played an especially important part in the promotion of the Covenant at a time when a few Covenant-breakers such as Jamal-i-Burujirdi were actively engaged in their efforts to mislead the believers in Persia.

The stories of Bashir-i-Ilahi and Mirza Muhammad-Sadiq demonstrate the fact that the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh had been endowed with powers beyond mortal ken. On countless other occasions the Master, seeing future events, guided the believers both in their personal lives as well as on matters dealing with the Bahá'í community. Indeed, the perusal of His voluminous writings reveals the penetrating influence of His creative words, which inspired the hearts, revealed the innermost mysteries of God's creation and foreshadowed events stretching far into the future, many of which have already taken place.

No Second Guardian to Succeed Shoghi Effendi

'Abdu'l-Bahá states in His Will and Testament:

18-WT 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
 351 
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 second part of the passage shows that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had anticipated the possibility that, even if the Guardian had a son, this son might not have the spiritual qualities to become his successor, and had authorized the Guardian in such a circumstance to 'choose another branch to succeed him'.

However, not only did Shoghi Effendi not have any children but all the Aghsan[*] (Branches) mentioned in the above passage had violated the Covenant and had been cast out of the community. That the detailed conditions set out by 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the Guardian's appointment of his successor become inoperative remains a matter which each believer has to ponder in his own heart.
[* Plural of Ghusn (Branch), an Arabic term used by Bahá'u'lláh to refer exclusively to His male descendants. Thus 'Abdu'l-Bahá was designated Ghusn-i-A'zam (the Most Great Branch). Shoghi Effendi is referred to by 'Abdu'l-Bahá as Ghusn-i-Mumtaz (the Chosen Branch).]

There is a profound wisdom hidden in this episode of successorship, namely, that God tests the believers in order to differentiate between the faithful and the unfaithful. After Shoghi Effendi passed away and the passages in the Will and Testament regarding a successor were not fulfilled, a number of believers were severely tested.

As stated in chapter 2, tests are an integral part of the Revelation of God. In every Dispensation He has tested His servants in various ways. Bahá'u'lláh speaks of this in many of His Tablets. For example, explaining the significance of symbolic terms recorded in heavenly Books of the past, Bahá'u'lláh states in the Kitáb-i-Íqán:

Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms
and abstruse allusions, which emanate horn the Revealers of God's
holy Cause, bath been to test and prove the Peoples of the world;
that thereby the earth of the pure and illuminated hearts may be
known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial
such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this
testify the records of the sacred books.[288]
[288 Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 49.]

 352 

In other passages in the same book Bahá'u'lláh elaborates further on the tests created by certain events in the lives of the Manifestations of old:

But inasmuch as the divine Purpose hath decreed that the true
should be known from the false, and the sun from the shadow, He
hath, therefore, in every season sent down upon mankind the
showers of tests from His realm of glory.

...For instance, consider Moses, son of 'Imran, one of the
exalted Prophets and Author of a divinely-revealed Book. Whilst
passing, one day, through the market, in His early days, ere His
ministry was proclaimed, He saw two men engaged in fighting. One
of them asked the help of Moses against his opponent. Whereupon,
Moses intervened and slew him. To this testifieth the record of
the sacred Book [the Qur'án]... While returning [from Midian,]
Moses entered the holy vale, situate in the wilderness of Sinai, and
there beheld the vision of the Ring of glory from the Tree that
belongeth neither to the East nor to the West'. There He heard the
soul-stirring Voice of the Spirit speaking from out of the kindled
Fire, bidding Him to shed upon Pharaonic souls the light of divine
guidance...

And now ponder in thy heart the commotion which God stirreth
up. Reflect upon the strange and manifold trials with which He
doth test His servants. Consider how He hath suddenly chosen
from among His servants, and entrusted with the exalted mission
of divine guidance Him Who was known as guilty of homicide,
Who, Himself, had acknowledged His cruelty, and Who for well-nigh
thirty years had, in the eyes of the world, been reared in the
home of Pharaoh and been nourished at his table. Was not God,
the omnipotent Ring, able to withhold the hand of Moses from
murder, so that manslaughter should not be attributed unto Him,
causing bewilderment and aversion among the people?[289]
[289 ibid. pp. 53-6. (Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán.)]

Concerning the tests associated with the person of Jesus Christ, Bahá'u'lláh states:

And now, meditate upon this most great convulsion, this grievous
test. Notwithstanding all. these things, God conferred upon that
essence of the Spirit, Who was known amongst the people as
fatherless, the glory of Prophethood, and made Him His testimony
unto all that are in heaven and on earth.

Behold how contrary are the ways of the Manifestations of God,
as ordained by the King of creation, to the ways and desires of
men![290]
[290 ibid. p. 57. (Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán.)]

There were many tests in the Islamic Dispensation. Bahá'u'lláh refers to one of them in the Kitáb-i-Íqán:

 353 
And likewise, reflect upon the revealed verse concerning the
'Qiblih'.[*] When Muhammad [sic], the Sun of Prophethood, had
fled from the day-spring of Batha [Mecca] unto Yathrib [Medina],
He continued to turn His face, while praying, unto Jerusalem, the
holy city, until the time when the Jews began to utter unseemly
words against Him -- words which if mentioned would ill befit these
pages and would weary the reader. Muhammad strongly resented
these words. Whilst, wrapt in meditation and wonder, He was gazing
toward heaven, He heard the kindly Voice of Gabriel, saying: 'We
behold Thee from above, turning Thy face to heaven; but We will
have Thee turn to a Qiblih which shall please Thee.'[**] On a
subsequent day, when the Prophet, together with His companions,
was offering the noontide prayer, an had already performed two
of the prescribed Rik'ats [prostrations], the Voice of Gabriel was
heard again: Turn Thou Thy face towards the sacred Mosque [at
Mecca].'[***] In the midst of that same prayer, Muhammad suddenly
turned His face away from Jerusalem and faced the Ka'bih.
Whereupon, a profound dismay seized suddenly the companions
of the Prophet. Their faith was shaken severely. So great was their
alarm, that many of them, discontinuing their prayer, apostatized
their faith. Verily, God caused not this turmoil but to test and prove
His servants. Otherwise, He, the ideal King, could easily have left
the Qiblih unchanged, and could have caused Jerusalem to remain
the Point of Adoration unto His Dispensation, thereby withholding
not from that holy city the distinction of acceptance which had been
conferred upon it.[291]
[* The direction towards which the face must be turned when praying.]
[** Qur'án 2:144.]
[*** Qur'án 2:149.]
[291 ibid. pp. 49-5 1. (Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán.)]

In this Dispensation, too, there have been many causes for people to be tested. For example, the fact that Bahá'u'lláh had three wives at the same time has become a barrier for those who do not understand the circumstances and traditions of the time.[****] The faith of a number of the believers has also been tested by the laws of Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. And above all, the terms of the Covenant as revealed in the Kitáb-i-'Ahd and the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá have provided severe tests for the believers. Such tests become barriers for those people whose vision does not extend beyond their own way of thinking. Only through an unbiased and earnest search for truth, conducted in a prayerful attitude, can these matters be clarified and many barriers preventing the individual from recognizing the truth be removed.
[**** For further details see chapter 2.]

 354 
36
Shoghi Effendi's Statements
about Future Guardians

Among the tests referred to in the previous chapter are three specific factors which puzzled some of the believers:

Why Shoghi Effendi left no will

What the significance was of the provision in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will
and Testament requiring the nine Hands of the Cause to assent
to the Guardian's appointment of his successor

The statement in The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh about the
inseparability of the institutions of the Guardianship and the
Universal House of Justice

A thorough study of these items will make it clear how each one, while creating further tests for the believers, was divinely ordained and contributed significantly both to the unfoldment of the Administrative Order and to a better comprehension of the mysterious forces of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

It is important to bear in mind that a true understanding of these issues depends upon each believer deeply studying the holy writings in a prayerful attitude and examining the nature of the Covenant to discover the mysteries hidden in its innermost reality. To assist in this process, some explanation of these important issues is set down in the following pages.

In numerous letters Shoghi Effendi expounded in great detail the function of the Guardianship and the weighty responsibilities which the Master had placed upon that institution. In many instances he referred to future Guardians. Yet, at least towards the end of his life, Shoghi Effendi was fully aware that there was no one qualified to fill the position of Guardian after him and no one knew better than he that he had no offspring. Nevertheless, in 1954, three years before he passed away, Shoghi Effendi wrote about the administrative Seat of the Guardianship to be built on Mount Carmel.

 355 

If one takes these statements at their face value, one can be mystified about Shoghi Effendi's intentions. However, as we examine his relationship to the Master, the reason for such statements and the wisdom behind them become clear.

Throughout his ministry, the Guardian spoke and wrote in the context of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and acted in harmony with the Master's words. He never uttered a word to contradict or appear to contradict the statements of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in that important document. In His Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá categorically confirmed the position of the successors to Shoghi Effendi. In compliance with the Will and Testament, knowing that the Hand of God was involved, Shoghi Effendi remained, throughout his life, silent on the question of his own successor as Guardian.

The Question of Shoghi Effendi's Will

Soon after the passing of Shoghi Effendi the body of the Hands of the Cause of God, designated by him as the 'Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth',[*] informed the Bahá'í world that a thorough investigation revealed that Shoghi Effendi had not left a will.
[* See chapter 33.]

As we look at the history of the unfoldment of the Covenant, we note that in the Kitáb-i-'Ahd Bahá'u'lláh appointed 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of His Covenant; in the Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá in turn, appointed Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Faith. In both cases, the faithful knew where to turn. But Shoghi Effendi did not leave a will and this caused some to become perplexed. Indeed, Bahá'ís all over the world had taken it for granted that the Guardian would follow the same practice as Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and would appoint his successor.

That Shoghi Effendi did not write a will was due to the circumstances of his ministry and his life. He was a most meticulous person who never left anything to chance, especially in such a vital issue as writing a will and testament in which he was to appoint a successor.

One of Bahá'u'lláh's injunctions in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is that every Bahá'í should write a will and testament and that foremost in it he should bear witness to the oneness of God in the Dayspring of His Revelation, Bahá'u'lláh. This confession of faith is to be a testimony for him in both this world and the next. A will also directs the distribution of wealth among one's heirs.

 356 

Regarding the first requirement, Shoghi Effendi's letter entitled The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh is one of the finest declarations of faith ever written. Indeed, we may say that through writing this remarkable document, Shoghi Effendi fulfilled the requirement of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. As to the second requirement for a will, which is the bequest of a person's wealth to his heirs, Shoghi Effendi did not have any worldly possessions and therefore had no need to distribute them. Thus from this perspective it can be said that Shoghi Effendi followed Bahá'u'lláh's injunction with regard to the writing of a will.

As to the appointment of a successor, the Master had stated in His Will and Testament that should the 'first-born' of the Guardian not inherit his spiritual qualities, he should appoint another Ghusn (Branch). As already noted, the word Ghusn was used by Bahá'u'lláh to signify His male descendants exclusively. Shoghi Effendi was not in a position to appoint a successor because he had no son and there was not a single Ghusn who was faithful to the Cause of God. Every one of the descendants of 'Abdu'l-Bahá had been declared a Covenant-breaker.

Not only was Shoghi Effendi unable to appoint a successor but he made no written statement of this situation. In this connection we must remember that Shoghi Effendi was the Interpreter of the Word of God. This allowed him to explain everything in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and apply their teachings and commandments within the framework of the exigencies of the time. What Shoghi Effendi could not do, however, was to pronounce on subjects not recorded in the holy writings. These fell within the purview of the Universal House of Justice, which alone has the authority to legislate on matters not revealed by the pen of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Since 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament did not indicate the course to be taken should there be no Ghusn to succeed the Guardian, the resolution of this question did not fall within the domain of the Guardianship; it was the prerogative of the Universal House of Justice to find a solution. The authority of the House of Justice to legislate on matters which are not in the Book was primarily given by Bahá'u'lláh, as seen in the following passage:

It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take
counsel together regarding those things which have not outwardly
been revealed in the Book, and to enforce that which is agreeable
to them. God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth,
and He, verily, is the Provider, the Omniscient.[292]
[292 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 68.]

After the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the tests facing the believers were, in some respects, far greater than those that had descended upon the  357  earlier believers as a result of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This time there was no will and testament; Shoghi Effendi was gone and the believers were left on their own. In spite of this, the institutions of the Administrative Order that were born of the Covenant and had been raised by Shoghi Effendi had been strengthened to such a point that practically the whole Bahá'í world community remained loyal to the Cause and its institutions. The believers of every land remained united as one soul in many bodies and for over two years after the passing of Shoghi Effendi there was no voice of dissent anywhere. All the believers turned to the Hands of the Cause of God and national and local spiritual assemblies declared their loyalty to them. There was never in the history of the Faith a time when the believers demonstrated such unity and solidarity and this in spite of the uncertainty created by the circumstances resulting from the passing of Shoghi Effendi. Indeed, this is the best proof of the indestructibility of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.

As we shall see later, in April 1960 Charles Mason Remey, a Hand of the Cause of God, made a preposterous claim to be the second Guardian. He was eventually declared a Covenant-breaker and died in ignominy some years later.

The Authority of the Hands of the Cause to Assent to the Guardian's
Choice of Successor

In the Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá places the special responsibility of approving the choice of the Guardian upon the Hands of the Cause of God:

19-WT 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).

As previously noted, Shoghi Effendi did not appoint Hands of the Cause until 1951. After that date it was impossible for him to appoint someone to succeed him as the next Guardian. Therefore there was no occasion for him to implement 'Abdu'l-Bahá's instructions in this regard.

[300]
[300 ibid. (Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 447.)]

These two cables were sent to the Bahá'í communities from the city of Haifa, based on a decision that all communications to the Bahá'í world should be issued from its World Centre.

The information that the Hands of the Cause were to meet in Haifa to 'arrange future plans' was welcomed by the Bahá'ís because the Hands had been appointed by the Guardian for the protection and propagation of the Faith and were its highest dignitaries. There were  365  27 Hands living when Shoghi Effendi passed away and nobody was more suited to advise the believers about the future development of the Cause and to consider the question of a successor to Shoghi Effendi. Almost the entire Bahá'í community expected that the will and testament of Shoghi Effendi would announce the appointment of his successor, as the wills of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá had done. For almost a month, the Bahá'ís of the world waited anxiously for news of this matter from the beloved and trusted Hands of the Cause but the news, when it finally came, was that the Guardian had left no will.

It is significant that five months before he passed away, Shoghi Effendi sent a cablegram to the Bahá'í world in which he conferred upon the Hands of the Cause the responsibility of protecting the Bahá'í community. In another message one month before his passing, he referred to the Hands as 'the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth'.[*] These two messages from Shoghi Effendi contained strong indications regarding the future destiny of the Cause and led the Bahá'í community to rally around the Hands after his passing. The first message, quoted in full in chapter 34, was sent on 4 June 1957.
[* See chapter 33.]

Under the guidance and loving care of 'Abdu'l-Bahá the infant Faith of Bahá'u'lláh grew up protected from the onslaught of the Covenant-breakers and acquired greater strength and vitality. The message of Bahá'u'lláh reached the peoples both of the East and the West and, although not fully integrated, small Bahá'í communities sprang up in several countries of the world. Again, measures similar to those taken by Bahá'u'lláh were adopted by 'Abdu'l-Bahá when He appointed Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian to nurture the tender and flourishing Faith, which was still vulnerable to attacks from within and without the community.

During the 36 years of the Guardianship Shoghi Effendi built up the foundations of the institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh, which were to act as channels for the outpouring of the spiritual energies latent in His Revelation. These institutions, which derive their authority from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and from the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá became bastions of protection for the Bahá'ís of the world. When Shoghi Effendi passed away, the Administrative Order was well established. By virtue of these institutions the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh had become impregnable and the body of the believers was united and harmonized. The forces of negation, which had attacked the Faith from within after the ascensions of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and  366  which had posed severe threats to its unity, were now impotent to penetrate the mighty stronghold of the Administrative Order that Shoghi Effendi had built up with meticulous care and with so much personal suffering. After the sudden passing of Shoghi Effendi, the Bahá'í community, having learned from the Hands of the Cause that Shoghi Effendi had left no will, was at first shaken and dismayed, but soon it recovered and organised itself to carry on the work without a Guardian. The following are excerpts from the first letter by the Hands of the Cause addressed to the Bahá'ís of the world on this issue:

Beloved Friends:

Nine days had not yet elapsed after the interment of the sacred
remains of our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, in London,
when the Hands of the Cause, to the number of twenty-six, assembled
at the World Centre of the Faith, in our capacity as 'Chief
Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh',
to consult together on the most tragic situation facing the Bahá'ís
since the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and to take all necessary and
appropriate measures to safeguard the highest interests of our
Faith.

On November 18th the Hands conducted a Memorial Meeting
at Bahji, in the Haram-i-Aqdas surrounding the most sacred Shrine
in the Bahá'í world, afterward entering the Holy Tomb itself and
prostrating ourselves in utter humility at the Sacred Threshold.

On the following morning, November 19th, nine Hands of the
Cause; selected from the Holy Land, and the several continents
of East and West, with Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, broke the
seals placed upon the beloved Guardian's safe and desk and made
careful examination of their precious contents. These same Hands,
rejoining the other Hands assembled in the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh
at Bahji, certified that Shoghi Effendi had left no Will and Testament.
It was likewise certified that the beloved Guardian had left
no heir The Aghsan (branches) one and all are either dead or have
been declared violators of the Covenant by the Guardian for their
faithlessness to the Master's Will and Testament and their hostility
to him named first Guardian in that sacred document.

The first effect of the realization that no successor to Shoghi
Effendi could have been appointed by him was to plunge the
Hands of the Cause into the very abyss of despair. What must
happen to the world community of his devoted followers if the
Leader, the Inspirer, the Planner of all Bahá'í activities in all
countries and islands of the seas could no longer fulfil his unique
mission?

From this dark abyss, however, contemplation of the Guardian's
own life of complete sacrifice and his peerless services gradually
redeemed our anguished hearts. Shoghi Effendi himself, we know,
would have been the first to remind the Hands, and the widespread
body of the believers, that the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh
 367 
has quickened those powers and resources of faith within mankind
which will achieve the unity of the peoples and the triumph of His
World Order. In this new light of understanding the company of
the Hands could perceive with heightened gratitude the existence
of those innumerable blessings which Shoghi Effendi had created
and left as his true legacy to all Bahá'ís.

Has not the World Centre, with its sacred Shrines and institutions,
been firmly established? Has not the Message been established
in 254 countries and dependencies? Have not the National
and Regional Spiritual Assemblies, forerunners of the Universal
House of Justice, been implanted in twenty-six great areas of all
continents? Has not the Guardian left us not only his incomparable
translations, for English-reading Bahá'ís, of the Bahá'í sacred
literature but also his own master works of interpretation which
disclose to us the unshatterable edifice of an evolving Bahá'í Order
and world community? Has not the Guardian, building upon the
enduring foundation of the Master's Tablets of the Divine Plan,
created the World Crusade to guide our work until 1963?

...Such reflections could but, in such a world-shattering
experience as all Bahá'ís have this month endured, reveal to us
how strongly Shoghi Effendi has laid the foundations of the World
Order of Bahá'u'lláh through the appointment of Hands of the
Cause and likewise the appointment of the International Bahá'í
Council, the institution destined to evolve into the Universal House
of Justice.

In our capacity of Chief Stewards of the embryonic World
Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh, we Hands of the Cause have as
constituted a body of nine Hands to serve at the Bahá'í World
Centre. This body of nine Hands will energetically deal with the
protection of the Faith whenever attacks, whether from within or
outside the Bahá'í community, are reported by Hands from their
areas or by National or Regional Assemblies, or whether they arise
within the Holy Land. Correspondence will likewise be maintained
with the Hands of the Cause working in the several continents.
This same body will correspond with National Assemblies on
matters connected with the prosecution of the objectives of the Ten
Year Plan. On matters involving administrative questions this same
body will assist National Assemblies by citing those passages of the
Bahá'í sacred literature which direct the Assemblies to a sound
solution.

As to the International Bahá'í Council, appointed by the Guardian
and heralded in his communications to the Bahá'í world, that
body will in the course of time finally fulfil its purpose through the
formation of the Universal House of Justice, that supreme body
upon which infallibility, as the Master's Testament assures us, is
divinely conferred: The source of all good and freed from all
error.'...

Meanwhile the entire body of the Hands assembled by the nine
Hands of the World Centre will decide when and how the International
 368 
Bahá'í Council is to evolve through the successive stages
outlined by the Guardian, culminating in the call to election of the
Universal House of Justice by the membership of all National
Spiritual Assemblies.

When that divinely ordained Body comes into existence, all the
conditions of the Faith can be examined anew and the measures
necessary for its future operation determined in consultation with
the Hands of the Cause.[301]
[301 'Proclamation by the Hands of the Cause to the Bahá'ís of East and West', 25 November 1957, in Bahá'í World, vol. 13, pp. 341-3.]

The believers faithfully rallied around the Hands of the Cause, who now assumed the function of guiding the Bahá'í world. All National Spiritual Assemblies declared their loyalty to the Hands and turned to that institution with devotion. The nine Hands appointed to serve at the World Centre were referred to as 'Custodians of the Faith'. From the outset the Hands made it clear to the Bahá'ís that, unlike the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice, the Hands were not promised infallible guidance. The only way that they could carry out their responsibilities satisfactorily was to follow faithfully the provisions of the Ten Year Plan as delineated by the Guardian. In this way, there was no danger of misguiding the community.

The greatest achievement of the Hands in this period is that they did not deviate a hair's breadth from the teachings and guidance of Shoghi Effendi. For more than five years they held the reins of the Cause in their hands -- a period that may be regarded as the most critical stage in the history of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. From the day the Faith was born until the passing of Shoghi Effendi divine protection had been vouchsafed to the community. For 113 years the infant Faith of Bahá'u'lláh had been nurtured by the infallible guidance of its Central Figures and its Guardian. Now it was entrusted to the care of a number of religious leaders, the Hands of the Cause, who did not have this promise of divine guidance.

It was a period fraught with dangers. In the same way that a newly built airplane is subjected to a series of rigorous tests in order to be sure that it works properly, the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh was severely tried during these six years and found to be absolutely impregnable. The custodianship of the Hands was itself a proof of the invincibility of the Covenant, in that, unlike the leaders of former religions who introduced many man-made practices into the teachings of their Prophets, the Hands of the Cause did not add even a single dot to the Cause, nor did they introduce any innovation into the workings of its institutions. They guided the Bahá'í community strictly in accordance with the holy text and the writings of the Guardian. Their responses to questions from National Spiritual Assemblies and individuals were based on the holy writings and if they could not find  369  the answer in the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá or in the letters of Shoghi Effendi they strictly refrained from making any pronouncement. Such questions were left to be determined by the Universal House of Justice in the future.

The Hands acted with such loyalty that when they handed over the Cause of God, pure and unadulterated, to the elected body of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 the whole Bahá'í world acclaimed their devotion. This generation and those yet unborn owe the Hands of the Cause an immeasurable debt of gratitude. Through their faithfulness they took the Ark of the Covenant from the hands of the Guardian, steered it for over five years through treacherous waters, brought it safely to the shores of salvation and humbly delivered it into the hands of the Universal House of Justice.

This period witnessed the emergence of a new brand of Covenant-breakers, headed by Mason Remey, who had himself been appointed a Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi and was one of the signatories of the first declaration of the Hands issued after the passing of Shoghi Effendi. In order to appreciate the genesis of this rebellion against the Covenant we must look back at the Bahá'í community as it was then.

At that time there were some believers who thought that the Faith must always have a Guardian. When it became clear that Shoghi Effendi had not appointed a successor, some Bahá'ís failed to appreciate the true significance of Shoghi Effendi's silence in this matter. Because they had not understood the spirit of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, they insisted that a second Guardian must be created. Mason Remey, after a distinguished life of service, succumbed to both ambition and arrogance, which impelled him, without any word of instruction from Shoghi Effendi, to concoct the extraordinarily tortuous argument on which he based his claim to the Guardianship and assumed for himself the responsibility of guiding the Bahá'í world.

In His Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá extolled Shoghi Effendi as the 'sign of God', the 'chosen branch', the 'blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees', 'the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas'. Such a being was created by God especially to be the Guardian of the Cause and his appointment was made by the Centre of the Covenant Himself. He was a descendant both of Bahá'u'lláh and of the family of the Báb. How could a few individuals who looked for leadership and sought power for their own selfish interests raise up a lesser man to the station of the Guardianship? In His Will and Testament, 'Abdu'l-Bahá laid down the conditions that Shoghi Effendi's successor must be either the 'first-born' of the Guardian or  370  another Ghusn (male descendant of Bahá'u'lláh) and that the Hands of the Cause must give their assent to his choice. How could Mason Remey fulfil these conditions? It is interesting to note that, in a Tablet to the Hand of the Cause of God Mulla 'Ali-Akbar, 'Abdu'l-Bahá makes this important statement:

...for 'Abdu'l-Bahá is in a tempest of dangers and infinitely
abhors differences of opinion...Praise be to God, there are no
grounds for differences.

The Báb, the Exalted One, is the Morn of Truth, the splendour
of Whose light shineth through all regions. He is also the Harbinger
of the Most Great Light, the Abha Luminary. The Blessed
Beauty is the One promised by the sacred books of the past, the
revelation of the Source of light that shone upon Mount Sinai,
Whose fire glowed in the midst of the Burning Bush. We are, one
and all, servants of Their threshold, and stand each as a lowly
keeper at Their door.

My purpose is this, that ere the expiration of a thousand years,
no one has the right to utter a single word, even to claim the
station of Guardianship. The Most Holy Book is the Book to which
all peoples shall refer, and in it the Laws of God have been revealed.
Laws not mentioned in the Book should be referred to the
decision of the Universal House of Justice. There will be no
grounds for difference... Beware, beware lest anyone create a rift
or stir up sedition.[302]
[302 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 47.]

After Mason Remey made his absurd claim, the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land tried their utmost to bring him to his senses. But in his delusion he persisted on his errant course; consequently he and those few who followed him were declared to be Covenant-breakers. The Bahá'í community was once again purged by this process; the impurities that would have imposed dire afflictions upon the Faith, had they been allowed to remain within the fold, were cast out, resulting in the revitalization of the body of the Cause of God.

This episode of Covenant-breaking by Mason Remey was one of the flimsiest of all rebellions in the history of the Faith. It did not take very long before a number of those who had been misled by him realized their mistake, repented and returned to the community or withdrew from the Faith altogether. Mason Remey's efforts to form a following for himself failed miserably. Ultimately, he went so far as to deny the infallibility of Shoghi Effendi and to impute errors to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. After his death, serious rivalries broke out between his lieutenants, who claimed to be his successors. The divinely ordained instruments serving the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh have been so strengthened today that the efforts of this group of Covenant-breakers  371  have come to naught and the power of the Covenant has driven them into oblivion.

Those few who gathered around Mason Remey -- and others who in recent times have taken his place -- have tried to justify their rebellion against the Covenant. They misled themselves through their interpretation of the word 'branch' mentioned in the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá regarding a successor to Shoghi Effendi. They claimed that since Bahá'u'lláh referred to human beings as 'the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch', any believer was a branch who could succeed Shoghi Effendi. This assumption was made either through self-deception or ignorance -- or perhaps both. The word Ghusn (branch), used by Bahá'u'lláh to refer to His male descendants, is Arabic; the term in the other passage is Persian and is a different word, never used by Bahá'u'lláh to refer to His male descendants. Both, however, have been translated into English as 'branch'.

Before Mason Remey's preposterous claim, the wisdom of the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament that the Hands of the Cause 'must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor' was not clear to some. But after Remey's defection, it became evident that this requirement was a means for the protection of the Cause of God. Far from assenting to the validity of his appointment as successor to Shoghi Effendi, the Hands were able unanimously to deny it.

Propelled by the forces of the Covenant, during the custodianship of the Hands of the Cause of God the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh advanced to such an extent as to eclipse the victories that had been won in preceding decades. The teaching work in five continents of the globe was intensified as the believers exerted themselves to win the goals of the Ten Year Crusade that the Guardian had formulated. Great numbers entered the Faith, especially in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Tens of thousands swelled the number of believers in the sub-continent of India when the Bahá'í community there experienced large scale entry by troops. The number of local spiritual assemblies, the bedrock upon which the national spiritual assemblies were established, vastly increased and more national spiritual assemblies were also formed during the remaining years of the Ten Year Crusade.

s against the Centre of the Covenant by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali gained credibility among the people, both within and without this small and seemingly fragile community.

 389 

Gone are the days when the Master was maliciously accused in public by His unfaithful brothers of the most heinous crimes, causing alarm and apprehension within government circles in the Holy Land and further afield at the heart of the Ottoman Empire.

Gone are the days when, through his persistent machinations and intrigues, the Arch-breaker of the Covenant succeeded in poisoning the mind of the Sultan of Turkey to such an extent that he ordered 'Abdu'l-Bahá's incarceration within the walls of the prison city, an ordeal which He endured for eight years.

And gone are the days when the youthful Guardian of the Cause was subjected to untold sufferings at the hands of the members of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's family and the old Covenant-breakers, who, assisted by a number of erstwhile outstanding teachers of the Faith -- then violators of the Covenant -- opposed him for more than three decades.

Now, with the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, the situation is changed and the precious institution of the Covenant bequeathed by Bahá'u'lláh to His followers has been greatly fortified. Although there will always be some souls from among the followers who, from time to time, will rebel against the Cause of God and arise to break the Covenant, they will never be able to divide the Faith into sects and destroy the unity of its community. The truth of this can be seen in the history of the Faith. For almost one hundred years, desperate endeavours were made by various groups of Covenant-breakers who launched fierce onslaughts against the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in order to bring about schism within its worldwide community. And despite all this, their efforts were in vain and they failed miserably in their objectives. Bahá'u'lláh has thus clearly proven that this is a 'day that shall not be followed by night'.[329]
[329 Bahá'u'lláh, in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245.]

In the Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá states:

25-WT This House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government
enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the
executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body
so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces,
the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and
strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as
Paradise itself.

This relationship between the Universal House of Justice and the governments, described by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, refers to the time when the authority of the Universal House of Justice will have been recognized by the nations of the world. At that time the legislature and the executive constituting the essential components of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will harmoniously interact. The supreme authority of  390  the House of Justice, divinely conferred upon it, will be the guarantor of the unity of the nations and peoples of the world.

In response to a question about 'the government' stated in the passage of the Will and Testament cited above, Shoghi Effendi's secretary wrote on his behalf:

By 'Government'... is meant the executive body which will enforce
the laws when the Bahá'í Faith has reached the point when it is
recognized and accepted entirely by any particular nation.[330]
[330 From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 18 April 1941, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1604, p. 483.]

And in another letter Shoghi Effendi stated:

Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently
in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present
functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by
the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of
the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State
Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power. And as the
Bahá'í Faith permeates the masses of the peoples of East and West,
and its truth is embraced by the majority of the peoples of a
number of the Sovereign States of the world, will the Universal
House of Justice attain the plenitude of its power, and exercise,
as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth, all the rights,
the duties, and responsibilities incumbent upon the world's future
super-state.[331]
[331 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, pp. 6-7.]

Envisioning the mighty victories of the future, Shoghi Effendi foretells in his letters to the Persian believers that through the guidance of the Universal House of Justice the Cause of God will be exalted and the sovereignty of Bahá'u'lláh will be made manifest to the peoples of the world. The following passages are translated from one of these letters:

The National Spiritual Assemblies, like unto pillars, will be gradually
and firmly established in every country on the strong and
fortified foundations of the Local Assemblies. On these pillars; the
mighty edifice, the Universal House of Justice, will be erected,
raising high its noble frame above the world of existence. The
unity of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh will thus be realized and
fulfilled from one end of the earth to the other ... and the living
waters of everlasting life will stream forth from that fountain-head
of God's World Order upon all the warring nations and peoples
of the world, to wash away the evils and iniquities of the realm of
dust, and heal man's age-old ills and ailments...[332]
[332 Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Persia, 27 November 1929, translated from the Persian in Compilation, vol. 1, p. 333.]

Then will the Throne of Bahá'u'lláh's sovereignty be founded in
the promised land and the scales of justice be raised on high. Then
 391 
will the banner of the independence of the Faith be unfurled, and
His Most Great Law be unveiled and rivers of laws and ordinances
stream forth from this snow-white spot with all-conquering power
and awe-inspiring majesty, the like of which past ages have never
seen. Then will appear the truth of what was revealed by the
Tongue of Grandeur: 'Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce
the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come!
His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing
splendour is revealed.' '...O Carmel ... Well is it with him that
circleth around thee, that proclaimeth the revelation of thy glory,
and recounteth that which the bounty of the Lord, thy God, hath
showered upon thee... Ere long will God sail His Ark upon thee,
and will manifest the people of Baha who have been mentioned
in the Book of Names.'

Through it the pillars of the Faith on this earth will be firmly
established and its hidden powers be revealed, its signs shine forth,
its banners be unfurled and its light be shed upon all peoples.[333]
[333 Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Persia, 27 November 1929, translated from the Arabic in ibid. pp. 333-4. (Compilation, vol. 1.)]

 392 
39
Huququ'lláh, Obedience to Government,
Supreme Tribunal

Huququ'lláh

27-WT O friends of 'Abdu'l-Bahá! The Lord, as a sign of His
infinite bounties, hath graciously favoured His servants by providing
for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented
unto Him, though He, the True One, and His servants have been
at all times independent of all created things, and God verily is
the All-Possessing, exalted above the need of any gift from His
creatures. This fixed money offering, however, causeth the people
to become firm and steadfast and draweth Divine increase upon
them. It is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God,
that it may be expended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of
God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and
for the common weal.

In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book), Bahá'u'lláh revealed the law of Huququ'lláh (the Right of God). It applies to those whose possessions reach a certain value, beyond which they are bidden by God to pay 19 per cent of that value to the Centre of the Cause. In one of His Tablets, revealed in the words of His amanuensis, Bahá'u'lláh states that when the full text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas was completed He did not order its release for some time because it contained the law of Huquq, which was given by God as a sign of His mercy and loving-kindness unto His servants. He explains that the reason for withholding the Book temporarily was His apprehension lest some of the believers might not carry out this commandment or might come to wrong conclusions. The mere contemplation of this, He says, is unworthy of the Day of God.

The very thought that some, in their immaturity, might have assumed that the Huquq was intended for Bahá'u'lláh's personal use must have been extremely painful to Him. The most cursory study of His life and teachings amply demonstrates that He constantly exhorted His followers to detach themselves from earthly possessions and not to place their affections on the things of this world. In His  393  Tablet to Napoleon III, Bahá'u'lláh admonishes the emperor in these words, which clearly demonstrate the worthlessness of this material world in His sight:

Exultest thou over the treasures thou dost possess, knowing they
shall perish? Rejoicest thou in that thou rulest a span of earth,
when the whole world, in the estimation of the people of Baha, is
worth as much as the black in the eye of a dead ant?[334]
[334 Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 56.]

And in another Tablet He makes a similar statement:

By the righteousness of God! The world, its vanities and its glory,
and whatever delights it can offer, are all, in the sight of God, as
worthless as, nay even more contemptible than, dust and ashes.
Would that the hearts of men could comprehend it. Wash yourselves
thoroughly, O people of Baha, from the defilement of the
world, and of all that pertaineth unto it.[335]
[335 Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 30-1.]

During the days of Bahá'u'lláh, the majority of the believers in Persia were poor and some were needy. But when Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Amin[*] visited them, they had, through sacrifice, set aside small sums of money and were able to offer them to the Cause of God. It must be made clear that under Bahá'u'lláh's supervision the funds were spent for the promotion of the Cause and very little, if any, for His own expenses or those of His companions. The history of the life of Bahá'u'lláh bears ample testimony to this fact, for during most of the 40 years of His ministry He lived in the utmost poverty. There were days when a mere loaf of bread was not available to Him and the garments He wore were the only clothes He had. There were many occasions when He was in great need but He did not accept financial help from the friends. The last few years of His earthly life, although relatively more comfortable, were nevertheless greatly influenced by the austerity that had characterized His life from the days of the Siyah-Chal in Tihran, when all His possessions had been confiscated and He had been deprived of the means to support Himself and His family.
[* Trustee of Huquq appointed by Bahá'u'lláh. See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3, chapter 4.]

Desire for wealth is nonexistent in the person of the Manifestation of God. He abides in a realm that is independent of all creation and He is detached from all earthly things. Bahá'u'lláh stated in many of His Tablets that this mortal world is only a handful of dust and as utter nothingness in His sight. In His Will and Testament, the Kitáb-i'Ahd, He left us these exalted words:

 394 
Although the Realm of Glory hath none of the vanities of the
world, yet within the treasury of trust and resignation We have
bequeathed to Our heirs an excellent and priceless heritage.
Earthly treasures We have not bequeathed, nor have We added
such cares as they entail. By God! In earthly riches fear is hidden
and peril is concealed. Consider ye and call to mind that which the
All-Merciful hath revealed in the Qur'án: 'Woe betide every
slanderer and defamer, him that layeth up riches and counteth
them.' Fleeting are the riches of the world; all that perisheth and
changeth is not, and hath never been, worthy of attention, except
to a recognized measure.[336]
[336 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 219.]

The same attitude of detachment from earthly things so permeated the souls of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, the two successive Centres of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, that it was against their nature to turn their affection to the things of this world. They both followed the example of Bahá'u'lláh and lived austere lives. Although they received large contributions from the friends, they authorized their spending strictly for the promotion of the Cause of God and did not have the slightest inclination to spend the funds for their own personal ends. Like Bahá'u'lláh, neither of them had any personal assets, whether monetary or of any other type.

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá travelled to the West to spread the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and diffuse the divine fragrances in Europe and America, He had to use some of the funds which the Persian friends had contributed to Haji Amin as Huququ'lláh. But He observed such care in spending the absolute minimum for Himself that His companions sometimes felt concerned about the lack of comfort that often resulted.

The renowned chronicler of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's journeys to the West, Mirza Mahnmd-i-Zarqani, His devoted secretary and companion, has recorded in his diary (Badayi'u'l-Athar) that when 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His party were travelling across the United States, the train journey proved to be tiring -- especially for 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who was nearly 70 years of age. Yet in spite of this, He frequently declined to pay the extra small sum of money for sleeping accommodation on the train. Instead He would sit up all night on the hard wooden seats and close His eyes to rest. But, as demonstrated on that journey, He opened His purse and generously placed coins of silver and gold in the palms of the poor and needy wherever He found them. How different are the ways of God and man!

During those same epoch-making journeys 'Abdu'l-Bahá demonstrated a magnanimity and detachment characteristic of God's chosen ones by declining with graciousness all offers of funds and gifts from  395  friends and strangers. In his diary Mirza Mahmud recounts a story of 'Abdu'l-Bahá when He was in New York shortly before His departure from the United States:

Today some of the friends offered money to the Master but He
would not accept it despite their pleading. Instead He told them,
'Distribute it among the poor on my behalf. It will be as though
I have given it to them. But the most acceptable gift to me is the
unity of the believers, service to the Cause of God, diffusion of the
divine fragrances and adherence to the counsels of the Abha
Beauty.'

The believers were saddened because He did not accept their
gifts. However, since these were the last days of His visit and He
was about to leave, the New York Bahá'ís collected several gifts for
the women of the holy household and for the Greatest Holy Leaf.

Some of the believers agreed among themselves to go to
'Abdu'l-Bahá and cling to His robe until He accepted their gifts.
They came and begged He accept their offerings. The Master
called them, saying:

I am most grateful for your services; in truth you have served
me. You have extended hospitality. Night and day you have
been ready to serve and to diffuse the divine fragrances. I
shall never forget your services, for you have no purpose
but the will of God and you desire no station but entry into
the Kingdom of God. Now you have brought presents for the
members of my family. They are most acceptable and excellent
but better than all these are the gifts of the love of God which
remain preserved in the treasuries of the heart. These gifts
are evanescent but those are eternal; these jewels must be
kept in boxes and vaults and they will eventually perish but
those jewels remain in the treasuries of the heart and will
remain throughout the world of God for eternity. Thus I
will take to them your love, which is the greatest of all gifts.
In our house they do not wear diamond rings nor do they
keep rubies. That house is sanctified above such adornments.

I, however, have accepted your gifts; but I entrust them
to you for you to sell and send the proceeds to the fund for
the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Chicago.

When the friends continued to plead with Him, He said: 'I want
to take from you a present which will endure in the eternal world
and a jewel which belongs to the treasuries of the heart. This is
better.'

No matter how much the friends supplicated and pleaded, He
would not accept their gifts and instead asked them all to contribute
towards the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar fund. He did this everywhere
He travelled.[337]
[337 Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mahmud's Diary, pp. 414-15.]

 396 

Returning to the subject of Huququ'lláh, Bahá'u'lláh ordains this institution in the following passage of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas:

Should anyone acquire one hundred mithqals[*] of gold, nineteen
mithqals thereof are God's and to be rendered unto Him, the
Fashioner of earth and heaven. Take heed, O people, lest ye
deprive yourselves of so great a bounty. This We have commanded
you, though We are well able to dispense with you and with all who
are in the heavens and on earth; in it there are benefits and
wisdoms beyond the ken of anyone but God, the Omniscient, the
All-Informed. Say: By this means He hath desired to purify what
ye possess and to enable you to draw nigh unto such stations as
none can comprehend save those whom God hath willed. He, in
truth, is the Beneficent, the Gracious, the Bountiful. O people!
Deal not faithlessly with the Right of God, nor, without His leave,
make free with its disposal. Thus hath His commandment been
established in the holy Tablets, and in this exalted Book. He who
dealeth faithlessly with God shall in justice meet with faithlessness
himself he, however, who acteth in accordance with God's bidding
shall receive a blessing from the heaven of the bounty of his Lord,
the Gracious, the Bestower, the Generous, the Ancient of Days. He,
verily, hath willed for you that which is yet beyond your knowledge,
but which shall be known to you when, after this fleeting life, your
souls soar heavenwards and the trappings of your earthly joys are
folded up. Thus admonisheth you He in Whose possession is the
Guarded Tablet.[338]
[* Each mithqal is equal to 3.6416666 grams.]
[338 Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 97.]

The minimum amount subject to Huququ'lláh is reached when
one's possessions are worth the number of Vahid (19); that is,
whenever one owneth 19 mithqals of gold, or acquireth possessions
attaining this value, after having deducted therefrom the yearly
expenses, the Huquq becometh applicable and its payment is
obligatory.[339]
[339 Bahá'u'lláh, in Huququ'lláh, no. 18.]

With regard to the application of the law of Huququ'lláh, Shoghi Effendi has stated through his secretary:

Regarding the Huququ'lláh ... this is applied to one's merchandise,
property and income. After deducting the necessary expenses,
whatever is left as profit, and is an addition to one's capital, such
a sum is subject to Huquq. When one has paid Huquq once on a
particular sum, that sum is no longer subject to Huquq, unless it
should pass from one person to another. One's residence, and the
household furnishings are exempt from Huquq... Huququ'lláh
is paid to the Centre of the Cause.[340]
[340 . From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 4 April - 3 May 1927, in ibid. no. 80. (Huququ'lláh.)]

deur of the Blessed Beauty. Like the drop when it sees the ocean, he will become humble and self-effacing. The 'stranger' will be driven out and the heart will be filled with the spirit of God's Faith.

The following prayer revealed by a caring Master for His devoted lovers is a fitting conclusion to this book.

12-WT O God, my God! Shield Thy trusted servants from the
evils of self and passion, protect them with the watchful eye of
Thy loving kindness from all rancour, hate and envy, shelter
them in the impregnable stronghold of Thy care and, safe from
 407 
the darts of doubtfulness, make them the manifestations of Thy
glorious Signs, illumine their faces with the effulgent rays shed
from the Dayspring of Thy Divine Unity, gladden their hearts
with the verses revealed from Thy Holy Kingdom, strengthen
their loins by Thy all-swaying power that cometh from Thy
Realm of Glory. Thou art the All-Bountiful, the Protector, the
Almighty, the Gracious!

 408 
Appendix 1
The Administrative Order,
by Shoghi Effendi

A word should now be said regarding the theory on which this Administrative Order is based and the principle that must govern the operation of its chief institutions. It would be utterly misleading to attempt a comparison between this unique, this divinely-conceived Order and any of the diverse systems which the minds of men, at various periods of their history, have contrived for the government of human institutions. Such an attempt would in itself betray a lack of complete appreciation of the excellence of the handiwork of its great Author. How could it be otherwise when we remember that this Order constitutes the very pattern of that divine civilization which the almighty Law of Bahá'u'lláh is designed to establish upon earth? The divers and ever-shifting systems of human polity, whether past or present, whether originating in the East or in the West, offer no adequate criterion wherewith to estimate the potency of its hidden virtues or to appraise the solidity of its foundations.

The Bahá'í Commonwealth of the future, of which this vast Administrative Order is the sole framework, is, both in theory and practice, not only unique in the entire history of political institutions, but can find no parallel in the annals of any of the world's recognized religious systems. No form of democratic government; no system of autocracy or of dictatorship, whether monarchical or republican; no intermediary scheme of a purely aristocratic order; nor even any of the recognized types of theocracy, whether it be the Hebrew Commonwealth, or the various Christian ecclesiastical organizations, or the Imamate or the Caliphate in Islam -- none of these can be identified or be said to conform with the Administrative Order which the master-hand of its perfect Architect has fashioned.

This new-born Administrative Order incorporates within its structure certain elements which are to be found in each of the three recognized forms of secular government, without being in any sense a mere replica of any one of them, and without introducing within its machinery any of the objectionable features which they inherently possess. It blends and harmonizes, as no government fashioned by  409  mortal hands has as yet accomplished, the salutary truths which each of these systems undoubtedly contains without vitiating the integrity of those God-given verities on which it is ultimately founded.

The Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh must in no wise be regarded as purely democratic in character inasmuch as the basic assumption which requires all democracies to depend fundamentally upon getting their mandate from the people is altogether lacking in this Dispensation. In the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Faith, in the enactment of the legislation necessary to supplement the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the members of the Universal House of Justice, it should be borne in mind, are not, as Bahá'u'lláh's utterances clearly imply, responsible to those whom they represent, nor are they allowed to be governed by the feelings, the general opinion, and even the convictions of the mass of the faithful, or of those who directly elect them. They are to follow, in a prayerful attitude, the dictates and promptings of their conscience. They may, indeed they must, acquaint themselves with the conditions prevailing among the community, must weigh dispassionately in their minds the merits of any case presented for their consideration, but must reserve for themselves the right of an unfettered decision. 'God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth,' is Bahá'u'lláh's incontrovertible assurance. They, and not the body of those who either directly or indirectly elect them, have thus been made the recipients of the divine guidance which is at once the life-blood and ultimate safeguard of this Revelation. Moreover, he who symbolizes the hereditary principle in this Dispensation has been made the interpreter of the words of its Author, and ceases consequently by virtue of the actual authority vested in him, to be the figurehead invariably associated with the prevailing systems of constitutional monarchies.

Nor can the Bahá'í Administrative Order be dismissed as a hard and rigid system of unmitigated autocracy or as an idle imitation of any form of absolutistic ecclesiastical government, whether it be the Papacy, the Imamate or any other similar institution, for the obvious reason that upon the international elected representatives of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh has been conferred the exclusive right of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the Bahá'í writings, Neither the Guardian of the Faith nor any institution apart from the International House of Justice can ever usurp this vital and essential power or encroach upon that sacred right. The abolition of professional priesthood with its accompanying sacraments of baptism, of communion and of confession of sins, the laws requiring the election by universal suffrage of all local, national, and international Houses of Justice, the total absence of episcopal authority with its attendant privileges, corruptions and bureaucratic tendencies, are further  410  evidences of the non-autocratic character of the Bahá'í Administrative Order and of its inclination to democratic methods in the administration of its affairs.

Nor is this Order identified with the name of Bahá'u'lláh to be confused with any system of purely aristocratic government in view of the fact that it upholds, on the one hand, the hereditary principle and entrusts the Guardian of the Faith with the obligation of interpreting its teachings, and provides, on the other, for the free and direct election from among the mass of the faithful of the body that constitutes its highest legislative organ.

Whereas this Administrative Order cannot be said to have been modelled after any of these recognized systems of government, it nevertheless embodies, reconciles and assimilates within its framework such wholesome elements as are to be found in each one of them. The hereditary authority which the Guardian is called upon to exercise, the vital and essential functions which the Universal House of Justice discharges, the specific provisions requiring its democratic election by the representatives of the faithful -- these combine to demonstrate the truth that this divinely revealed Order, which can never be identified with any of the standard types of government referred to by Aristotle in his works, embodies and blends with the spiritual verities on which it is based the beneficent elements which are to be found in each one of them. The admitted evils inherent in each of these systems being rigidly and permanently excluded, this unique Order, however long it may endure and however extensive its ramifications, cannot ever degenerate into any form of despotism, of oligarchy, or of demagogy which must sooner or later corrupt the machinery of all man-made and essentially defective political institutions.

Dearly-beloved friends! Significant as are the origins of this mighty administrative structure, and however unique its features, the happenings that may be said to have heralded its birth and signalized the initial stage of its evolution seem no less remarkable. How striking, how edifying the contrast between the process of slow and steady consolidation that characterizes the growth of its infant strength and the devastating onrush of the forces of disintegration that are assailing the outworn institutions, both religious and secular, of present-day society! The vitality which the organic institutions of this great, this ever-expanding Order so strongly exhibit; the obstacles which the high courage, the undaunted resolution of its administrators have already surmounted; the fire of an unquenchable enthusiasm that glows with undiminished fervour in the hearts of its itinerant teachers; the heights of self-sacrifice which its champion-builders are now attaining; the breadth of vision, the confident hope, the creative joy, the inward  411  peace, the uncompromising integrity, the exemplary discipline, the unyielding unity and solidarity which its stalwart defenders manifest; the degree to which its moving Spirit has shown itself capable of assimilating the diversified elements within its pale, of cleansing them of all forms of prejudice and of fusing them with its own structure -- these are evidences of a power which a disillusioned and sadly shaken society can ill afford to ignore.

Compare these splendid manifestations of the spirit animating this vibrant body of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh with the cries and agony, the follies and vanities, the bitterness and prejudices, the wickedness and divisions of an ailing and chaotic world. Witness the fear that torments its leaders and paralyzes the action of its blind and bewildered statesmen. How fierce the hatreds, how false the ambitions, how petty the pursuits, how deep-rooted the suspicions of its peoples! How disquieting the lawlessness, the corruption, the unbelief that are eating into the vitals of a tottering civilization!

Might not this process of steady deterioration which is insidiously invading so many departments of human activity and thought be regarded as a necessary accompaniment to the rise of this almighty Arm of Bahá'u'lláh? Might we not look upon the momentous happenings which, in the course of the past twenty years, have so deeply agitated every continent of the earth, as ominous signs simultaneously proclaiming the agonies of a disintegrating civilization and the birthpangs of that World Order -- that Ark of human salvation -- that must needs arise upon its ruins?

The catastrophic fall of mighty monarchies and empires in the European continent, allusions to some of which may be found in the prophecies of Bahá'u'lláh; the decline that has set in, and is still continuing, in the fortunes of the Shi'ih hierarchy in His own native land; the fall of the Qajar -- dynasty, the traditional enemy of His Faith; the overthrow of the Sultanate and the Caliphate, the sustaining pillars of Sunni Islam, to which the destruction of Jerusalem in the latter part of the first century of the Christian era offers a striking parallel; the wave of secularization which is invading the Muhammadan ecclesiastical institutions in Egypt and sapping the loyalty of its staunchest supporters; the humiliating blows that have afflicted some of the most powerful Churches of Christendom in Russia, in Western Europe and Central America; the dissemination of those subversive doctrines that are undermining the foundations and overthrowing the structure of seemingly impregnable strongholds in the political and social spheres of human activity; the signs of an impending catastrophe, strangely reminiscent of the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West, which threatens to engulf the whole structure of present-day civilization -- all witness to the tumult which  412  the birth of this mighty Organ of the Religion of Bahá'u'lláh has cast into the world -- a tumult which will grow in scope and in intensity as the implications of this constantly evolving Scheme are more fully understood and its ramifications more widely extended over the surface of the globe.

A word more in conclusion. The rise and establishment of this Administrative Order -- the shell that shields and enshrines so precious a gem -- constitutes the hall-mark of this second and formative age of the Bahá'í era. It will come to be regarded, as it recedes farther and farther from our eyes, as the chief agency empowered to usher in the concluding phase, the consummation of this glorious Dispensation.

Let no one, while this System is still in its infancy, misconceive its character, belittle its significance or misrepresent its purpose. The bedrock on which this Administrative Order is founded is God's immutable Purpose for mankind in this day. The Source from which it derives its inspiration is no one less than Bahá'u'lláh Himself. Its shield and defender are the embattled hosts of the Abha Kingdom. Its seed is the blood of no less than twenty thousand martyrs who have offered up their lives that it may be born and flourish. The axis round which its institutions revolve are the authentic provisions of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Its guiding principles are the truths which He Who is the unerring Interpreter of the teachings of our Faith has so clearly enunciated in His public addresses throughout the West. The laws that govern its operation and limit its functions are those which have been expressly ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The seat round which its spiritual, its humanitarian and administrative activities will cluster are the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and its Dependencies. The pillars that sustain its authority and buttress its structure are the twin institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice. The central, the underlying aim which animates it is the establishment of the New World Order as adumbrated by Bahá'u'lláh. The methods it employs, the standard it inculcates, incline it to neither East nor West, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither rich nor poor, neither white nor coloured. Its watchword is the unification of the human race; its standard the 'Most Great Peace'; its consummation the advent of that golden millennium -- the Day when the kingdoms of this world shall have become the Kingdom of God Himself, the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh.
Shoghi[357]
[357 Shoghi Effendi, World Order, pp. 152-7.]

 413 
Appendix 2
The Constitution of
the Universal House of Justice

DECLARATION OF TRUST

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE ONE, THE INCOMPARABLE,
THE ALL-POWERFUL, THE ALL-KNOWING, THE ALL-WISE.

The light that is shed from the heaven of bounty, and the benediction that
shineth from the dawning-place of the will of God, the Lord of the Kingdom
of Names, rest upon Him Who is the Supreme Mediator, the Most Exalted
Pen, Him whom God hath made the dawning-place of His most excellent
names and the dayspring of His most exalted attributes. Through Him the
light of unify bath shone forth above the horizon of the world, and the law
of oneness hath been revealed amidst the nations, who, with radiant faces,
have turned towards the Supreme Horizon, and acknowledged that which
the Tongue of Utterance bath spoken in the Kingdom of His knowledge:
'Earth and heaven, glory and dominion, are God's, the Omnipotent, the
Almighty, the Lord of grace abounding!'

***

With joyous and thankful hearts we testify to the abundance of God's Mercy, to the perfection of His Justice and to the fulfilment of His Ancient Promise.

Bahá'u'lláh, the Revealer of God's Word in this Day, the Source of Authority, the Fountainhead of Justice, the Creator of a new World Order, the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization, the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of all mankind, has proclaimed the advent of God's Kingdom on earth, has formulated its laws and ordinances, enunciated its principles, and ordained its institutions. To direct and canalize the forces released by His Revelation He instituted His Covenant, whose power has preserved the integrity of His Faith, maintained its unity and stimulated its world-wide expansion throughout the successive ministries of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. It continues to fulfil its life-giving purpose through the agency of the Universal  414  House of Justice whose fundamental object, as one of the twin successors of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, is to ensure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of the Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers, and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings.

The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion, declares Bahá'u'lláh, is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation. Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure.

Unto the Most Holy Book, 'Abdu'l-Bahá declares in His Will and Testament, every one must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice.

The provenance, the authority, the duties, the sphere of action of the Universal House of Justice all derive from the revealed Word of Bahá'u'lláh which, together with the interpretations and expositions of the Centre of the Covenant and of the Guardian of the Cause -- who, after 'Abdu'l-Bahá is the sole authority in the interpretation of Bahá'í Scripture -- constitute the binding terms of reference of the Universal House of Justice and are its bedrock foundation. The authority of these Texts is absolute and immutable until such time as Almighty God shall reveal His new Manifestation to Whom will belong all authority and power.

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. Further, there devolve upon it the duties of directing and coordinating the work of the Hands of the Cause, of ensuring the continuing discharge of the functions of protection and propagation vested in that institution, and of providing for the receipt and disbursement of the Huququ'lláh.

Among the powers and duties with which the Universal House of Justice has been invested are:

To ensure the preservation of the Sacred Texts and to safeguard
their inviolability; to analyse, classify, and coordinate the Writings;
and to defend and protect the Cause of God and emancipate it
from the fetters of repression and persecution;

To advance the interests of the Faith of God; to reclaim,
propagate and teach its Message; to expand and consolidate the
 415 
institutions of its Administrative Order; to usher in the World
Order of Bahá'u'lláh; to promote the attainment of those spiritual
qualities which should characterize Bahá'í life individually and
collectively; to do its utmost for the realization of greater cordiality
and comity amongst the nations and for the attainment of universal
peace; and to foster that which is conducive to the enlightenment
and illumination of the souls of men and the advancement and
betterment of the world;

To enact laws and ordinances not expressly recorded in the
Sacred Texts; to abrogate, according to the changes and requirements
of the time, its own enactments; to delibe

onic World Commonwealth, brought into being this 'crowning glory' of the administrative institutions of Bahá'u'lláh, the very 'nucleus and forerunner' of His World Order. Now, therefore, in obedience to the Command of God and with entire reliance upon Him, we, the members of the Universal House of Justice, set our hands and its seal to this Declaration of Trust which, together with the By-Laws hereto appended, form the Constitution of the Universal House of Justice.
[* 21 April 1963 AD.]

Hugh E. Chance
Hushmand Fatheazam
Amoz E. Gibson
David Hofman
H. Borrah Kavelin
Ali Nakhjavani
David S. Ruhe
Ian C. Semple
Charles Wolcott

Signed in the City of Haifa on the fourth day of the month of Qawl in the one hundred and twenty-ninth year of the Bahá'í Era, corresponding to the twenty-sixth day of the month of November in the year 1972 according to the Gregorian calendar.

 417 
APPENDIX 2
BY-LAWS

Preamble

The Universal House of Justice is the supreme institution of an Administrative Order whose salient features, whose authority and whose principles of operation are clearly enunciated in the Sacred Writings of the Bahá'í Faith and their authorized interpretations. This Administrative Order consists, on the one hand, of a series of elected councils, universal, secondary and local, in which are vested legislative, executive and judicial powers over the Bahá'í community and, on the other, of eminent and devoted believers appointed for the specific purposes of protecting and propagating the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh under the guidance of the Head of that Faith.

This Administrative Order is the nucleus and pattern of the World Order adumbrated by Bahá'u'lláh. In the course of its divinely propelled organic growth its institutions will expand, putting forth auxiliary branches and developing subordinate agencies, multiplying their activities and diversifying their functions, in consonance with the principles and purposes revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for the progress of the human race.

I. Membership in the Bahá'í Community

The Bahá'í Community shall consist of all persons recognized by the Universal House of Justice as possessing the qualifications of Bahá'í faith and practice.

1. In order to be eligible to vote and hold elective office, a Bahá'í must have attained the age of twenty-one years.

2. The rights, privileges and duties of individual Bahá'ís are as set forth in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and as laid down by the Universal House of Justice.

II. Local Spiritual Assemblies

Whenever in any locality the number of Bahá'ís resident therein who have attained the age of twenty-one exceeds nine, these shall on the First Day of Ridvan convene and elect a local administrative body of nine members to be known as the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of that locality. Every such Spiritual Assembly shall be elected annually thereafter upon each successive First Day of Ridvan. The members  418  shall hold office for the term of one year or until their successors are elected. When, however, the number of Bahá'ís as aforesaid in any locality is exactly nine, these shall on the First Day of Ridvan constitute themselves the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration.

1. The general powers and duties of a Local Spiritual Assembly are as set forth in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and as laid down by the Universal House of Justice.

2. A Local Spiritual Assembly shall exercise full jurisdiction over all Bahá'í activities and affairs within its locality, subject to the provisions of the Local Bahá'í Constitution.[*]
[* By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly]

3. The area of jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly shall be decided by the National Spiritual Assembly in accordance with the principle laid down for each country by the Universal House of Justice.

III. National Spiritual Assemblies

Whenever it is decided by the Universal House of Justice to form in any country or region a National Spiritual Assembly, the voting embers of the Bahá'í community of that country or region shall, in a manner and at a time to be decided by the Universal House of Justice, elect their delegates to their National Convention. These delegates shall, in turn, elect in the manner provided in the National Bahá'í Constitution[**] a body of nine members to be known as the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of that country or region. The members shall continue in office for a period of one year or until their successors shall be elected.
[** Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of a National Spiritual Assembly.]

1. The general powers and duties of a National Spiritual Assembly are as set forth in the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi and as laid down by the Universal House of Justice.

2. The National Spiritual Assembly shall have exclusive jurisdiction and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá'í Faith throughout its area. It shall endeavour to stimulate, unify and coordinate the manifold activities of the Local Spiritual Assemblies and of individual Bahá'ís in its area and by all possible means assist them to  419  promote the oneness of mankind. It shall furthermore represent its national Bahá'í community in relation to other national Bahá'í communities and to the Universal House of Justice.

3. The area of jurisdiction of a National Spiritual Assembly shall be as defined by the Universal House of Justice.

4. The principal business of the National Convention shall be consultation on Bahá'í activities, plans and policies and the election of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly, as set forth in the National Bahá'í Constitution.

(a) If in any year the National Spiritual Assembly shall consider
that it is impracticable or unwise to hold the National Convention,
the said Assembly shall provide ways and means by which
the annual election and the other essential business of the
Convention may be conducted.

(b) Vacancies in the membership of the National Spiritual
Assembly shall be filled by a vote of the delegates composing
the Convention which elected the Assembly, the ballot to be
taken by correspondence or in any other manner decided by
the National Spiritual Assembly.

IV. Obligations of Members of Spiritual Assemblies

Among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct and coordinate the affairs of the Cause of God as members of its Spiritual Assemblies are: to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve; to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments and the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote; to purge their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs of self-contained aloofness, the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness and of every word and deed that may savour of partiality, self-centredness and prejudice; and while retaining the sacred right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, ventilate grievances, welcome advice and foster the sense of interdependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between themselves and all other Bahá'ís.

 420 
V. The Universal House of Justice

The Universal House of Justice shall consist of nine men who have been elected from the Bahá'í community in the manner hereinafter provided.

1. Election

The members of the Universal House of Justice shall be elected by secret ballot by the members of all National Spiritual Assemblies at a meeting to be known as the International Bahá'í Convention.

(a) An election of the Universal House of Justice shall be held
once every five years unless otherwise decided by the Universal
House of Justice, and those elected shall continue in office until
such time as their successors shall be elected and the first
meeting of these successors is duly held.

(b) Upon receiving the call to Convention each National Spiritual
Assembly shall submit to the Universal House of Justice a
list of the names of its members. The recognition and seating
of the delegates to the International Convention shall be vested
in the Universal House of Justice.

(c) The principal business of the International Convention shall
be to elect the members of the Universal House of Justice to
deliberate on the affairs of the Bahá'í Cause throughout the world,
and to make recommendations and suggestions for the consideration
of the Universal House of Justice.

(d) The sessions of the International Convention shall be
conducted in such manner as the Universal House of Justice
shall from time to time decide.

(e) The Universal House of Justice shall provide a procedure
whereby those delegates who are unable to be present in person
at the International Convention shall cast their ballots for the
election of the members of the Universal House of Justice.

(f) If at the time of an election the Universal House of Justice
shall consider that it is impracticable or unwise to hold the
International Convention it shall determine how the election
shall take place.

 421 
(g) On the day of the election the ballots of all voters shall be
scrutinized and counted and the result certified by tellers
appointed in accordance with the instructions of the Universal
House of Justice.

(h) If a member of a National Spiritual Assembly who has voted
by mail ceases to be a member of that National Spiritual Assembly
between the time of casting his ballot and the date of the
counting of the ballots, his ballot shall nevertheless remain valid
unless in the interval his successor shall have been elected and
the ballot of such successor shall have been received by the
tellers.

(i) In case by reason of a tie vote or votes the full membership
of the Universal House of Justice is not determined on the first
ballot, then one or mote additional ballots shall be held on the
persons tied until all members are elected. The electors in
the case of additional ballots shall be the members of National
Spiritual Assemblies in office at the time each subsequent vote
is taken.

2. Vacancies in Membership

A vacancy in the membership of the Universal House of Justice will occur upon the death of a member or in the following cases:

(a) Should any member of the Universal House of Justice
commit a sin injurious to the common weal, he may be dismissed
from membership by the Universal House of Justice.

(b) The Universal House of Justice may at its discretion declare
a vacancy with respect to any member who in its judgement is
unable to fulfil the functions of membership.

(c) A member may relinquish his membership on the Universal
House of Justice only with the approval of the Universal House
of Justice.

3. By-Election

If a vacancy in the membership of the Universal House of Justice occurs, the Universal House of Justice shall call a by-election at the earliest possible date unless such date, in the judgement of the  422  Universal House of Justice, falls too close to the date of a regular election of the entire membership, in which case the Universal House of Justice may, at its discretion, defer the filling of the vacancy to the time of the regular election. If a by-election is held, the voters shall be the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies in office at the time of the by-election.

4. Meetings

(a) After the election of the Universal House of Justice the first
meeting shall be called by the member elected by the highest
number of votes or, in his absence or other incapacity, by the
member elected by the next highest number of votes or, in case
two or more members have received the same highest number
of votes, then by the member selected by lot from among those
members. Subsequent meetings shall be called in the manner
decided by the Universal House of Justice.

(b) The Universal House of Justice has no officers. It shall
provide for the conduct of its meetings and shall organize its
activities in such manner as it shall from time to time decide.

(c) The business of the Universal House of Justice shall be
conducted by the full membership in consultation, except that
the Universal House of Justice may from time to time provide
for quorums of less than the full membership for specified
classes of business.

5. Signature

The signature of the Universal House of Justice shall be the words The Universal House of Justice' or in Persian 'Baytul-'Adl-i-A'zam' written by hand by any one of its members upon authority of the Universal House of Justice, to which shall be affixed in each case the Seal of the Universal House of Justice.

6. Records

The Universal House of Justice shall provide for the recording and verification of its decisions in such manner as it shall, from time to time, judge necessary.

 423 
VI. Bahá'í Elections

In order to preserve the spiritual character and purpose of Bahá'í elections the practices of nomination or electioneering, or any other procedure or activity detrimental to that character and purpose shall be eschewed. A silent and prayerful atmosphere shall prevail during the election so that each elector may vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection inspire him to uphold.

1. All Bahá'í elections, except elections of officers of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies and committees, shall be by plurality vote taken by secret ballot.

2. Election of the officers of a Spiritual Assembly or committee shall be by majority vote of the Assembly or committee taken by secret ballot.

3. In case by reason of a tie vote or votes the full membership of an elected body is not determined on the first ballot, then one or more additional ballots shall be taken on the persons tied until all members are elected.

4. The duties and rights of a Bahá'í elector may not be assigned nor may they be exercised by proxy.

VII. The Right of Review

The Universal House of Justice has the right to review any decision or action of any Spiritual Assembly, National or Local, and to approve, modify or reverse such decision or action. The Universal House of Justice also has the right to intervene in any matter in which a Spiritual Assembly is failing to take action or to reach a decision and, at its discretion, to require that action be taken, or itself to take action directly in the matter.

VIII. Appeals

The right of appeal exists in the circumstances, and shall be exercised according to the procedures, outlined below:

1. (a) Any member of a local Bahá'í community may appeal from a
decision of his Local Spiritual Assembly to the National Spiritual
Assembly which shall determine whether it shall take jurisdiction
of the matter or refer it back to the Local Spiritual Assembly for
 424 
reconsideration. If such an appeal concerns the membership of
a person in the Bahá'í community, the National Spiritual Assembly
is obliged to take jurisdiction of and decide the case.

(b) Any Bahá'í may appeal from a decision of his National
Spiritual Assembly to the Universal House of Justice which shall
determine whether it shall take jurisdiction of the matter or
leave it within the final jurisdiction of the National Spiritual
Assembly.

(c) If any differences arise between two or more Local Spiritual
Assemblies and if these Assemblies are unable to resolve them,
any one such Assembly may bring the matter to the National
Spiritual Assembly which shall thereupon take jurisdiction of
the case. If the decision of the National Spiritual Assembly
thereon is unsatisfactory to any of the Assemblies concerned,
or if a Local Spiritual Assembly at any time has reason to believe
that actions of its National Spiritual Assembly are affecting
adversely the welfare and unity of that Local Assembly's community,
it shall, in either case, after seeking to compose its
difference of opinion with the National Spiritual Assembly, have
the right to appeal to the Universal House of Justice, which
shall determine whether it shall take jurisdiction of the matter
or leave it within the final jurisdiction of the National Spiritual
Assembly.

2. An appellant, whether institution or individual, shall in the first instance make appeal to the Assembly whose decision is questioned, either for reconsideration of the case by that Assembly or for submission to a higher body. In the latter case the Assembly is in duty bound to submit the appeal together with full particulars of the matter. If an Assembly refuses to submit the appeal, or fails to do so within a reasonable time, the appellant may take the case directly to the higher authority.

X. The Boards of Counsellors

The institution of the Boards of Counsellors was brought into being by the Universal House of Justice to extend into the future the specific functions of protection and propagation conferred upon the Hands of the Cause of God. The members of these boards are appointed by the Universal House of Justice.

 425 

1. The term of office of a Counsellor, the number of Counsellors on each Board, and the boundaries of the zone in which each Board of Counsellors shall operate, shall be decided by the Universal House of Justice.

2. A Counsellor functions as such only within his zone and should he move his residence out of the zone for which he is appointed he automatically relinquishes his appointment.

3. The rank and specific duties of a Counsellor render him ineligible for service on local or national administrative bodies. If elected to the Universal House of Justice he ceases to be a Counsellor.

X. The Auxiliary Boards

In each zone there shall be two Auxiliary Boards, one for the protection and one for the propagation of the Faith, the numbers of whose members shall be set by the Universal House of Justice. The members of these Auxiliary Boards shall serve under the direction of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and shall act as their deputies, assistants and advisers.

1. The members of the Auxiliary Boards shall be appointed from among the believers of that zone by the Continental Board of Counsellors.

2. Each Auxiliary Board member shall be allotted a specific area in which to serve and, unless specifically deputized by the Counsellors, shall not function as a member of the Auxiliary Board outside that area.

3. An Auxiliary Board member is eligible for any elective office but if elected to an administrative post on a national or local level must decide whether to retain membership on the Board or accept the administrative post, since he may not serve in both capacities at the same time. If elected to the Universal House of Justice he ceases to be a member of the Auxiliary Board.

XI. Amendment

This Constitution may be amended by decision of the Universal House of Justice when the full membership is present.

 426 
Appendix 3
Guide to Paragraphs in the
Will and Testament

The following guide, which is presented in two sections, provides an easy reference linking passages of the Will and Testament to chapters of this book. In the first section, the paragraphs of the Will and Testament are listed in order and show in which chapters of The Child of the Covenant they are discussed. In the second section, the order is reversed, with the chapters of The Child of the Covenant appearing in order and indicating which paragraphs of the Will and Testament are covered in each chapter. The Will and Testament consists of 56 paragraphs. These are shown here as 1-WT up to 55-WT. The subject matter in each paragraph is discussed in one or more chapters of the book.

Will & Opening lines Chapters in
Testament of paragraph of Child of the
Paragraphs Will and Testament Covenant

1-WT All-Praise to Him who, by the Shield of His Covenant... 4

2-WT Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon... 27

3-WT O ye beloved of the Lord! The greatest of all things... 5, 6, 7, 8

4-WT And still another of His trials was the hostility... 9, 10, 11

5-WT O ye that stand fast and firm in the Covenant! 12, 13, 14, 15,
21, 22, 24

6-WT What deviation can be greater than breaking the Covenant! 16, 17,
18, 19, 20, 21

7-WT A few months ago, in concert with others... 22

8-WT According to the direct and sacred command of God... 22

9-WT In like manner, the focal Centre of Hate... 21

10-WT O God, my God! Thou seest this wronged servant of Thine... 22, 24

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11-WT In short, O ye beloved of the Lord! 26

12-WT O God, my God! Shield Thy trusted servant from the evils... 40

13-WT O ye that stand fast in the Covenant. When the hour cometh... 25

14-WT In these days, the most important of all things is
the guidance... 25

15-WT The disciples of Christ forgot themselves and all
earthly things... 25

16-WT O my loving friends! After the passing away of this
wronged one... 27, 35

17-WT The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of
the Cause of God... 13, 28, 29, 31

18-WT O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon
the guardian... 35

19-WT The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from
their own number... 36

20-WT O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must
be nominated... 35

21-WT The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God
are to diffuse... 32

22-WT This body of the Hands of the Cause of God is
under the direction... 33, 39

23-WT O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred
Dispensation, conflict... 24

24-WT Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all
the peoples... 24

25-WT And now, concerning the House of Justice which
God hath ordained... 38

26-WT O Lord, my God! Assist thy loved ones to be firm
in Thy Faith...  --

27-WT O friends of 'Abdu'l-Bahá! The Lord, as a sign of
His infinite bounties... 39

28-WT O ye beloved of the Lord! It is incumbent upon
you to be submissive... 39

29-WT This is my counsel and the commandment of God unto you. 39

30-WT O my Lord, my heart's desire, Thou Whom I ever invoke... 22

 428 
31-WT Yet now Thou seest them, O Lord, my God! 23

32-WT Adversities have waxed still more severe as they
rose... 12, 16, 22, 23

33-WT Lord! Thou seest all things weeping me and my
kindred rejoicing... 22

34-WT I call upon Thee, O Lord my God! with my tongue... 23

35-WT Thou art the Powerful... 23

36-WT O dearly beloved friends! I am now in very
great danger... 23, 24, 38

37-WT It is incumbent upon these members... 38

38-WT And now, one of the greatest and most
fundamental principles 26, 24, 30

39-WT In short, according to the explicit Divine Text... 26

40-WT Gracious God! After Mirza Badi'u'llah had declared... 16

41-WT My purpose is, however, to show that it is incumbent... 30

42-WT O ye beloved of the Lord! Strive with all your heart... 24

43-WT O God, My God! I call Thee, Thy Prophets... 24

44-WT O my God! my Beloved, my heart's Desire! Thou knowest... 22

45-WT Thou seest, O my God! how my long-suffering... 22

46-WT Lord! My cup of woe runneth over... 22

47-WT Thou art, verily, the Merciful... 22

48-WT O ye the true, the sincere, the faithful friends... 21

49-WT When, in all parts of the earth, the enemies of God... 12

50-WT Thereupon the loved ones of the Lord arose 22

51-WT And as they lost their cause, grew hopeless 22

52-WT Hence, the beloved of the Lord must entirely shun them... 24, 30

53-WT Whosoever and whatsoever meeting becometh a hindrance... 25

54-WT O ye faithful loved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 31

55-WT For he is, after 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the guardian of
the Cause... 29, 31, 38

rust, 1984.

The Ministry of the Custodians, 1957-l963: An Account of the Stewardship of
the Hands of the Cause. Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1992.

Nabil-i-A'zam. The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the
Bahá'í Revelation. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970.

Rabbani, Ruhiyyih. The Priceless Pearl. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust,
1969.

Rahiq-i-Makhtum.

Shoghi Effendi. The Advent of Divine Justice. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í
Publishing Trust, 1990.

 --  Bahá'í Administration. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1968.

 --  Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í
Publishing Trust, 1965.

 --  God Passes By. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, rev. edn. 1974.

 --  Messages to America. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1947.

 --  Messages to the Bahá'í' World. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust,
1971.

 --  The Promised Day is Come. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, rev.
edn. 1980.

 --  The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community: The Messages of
the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'ís of the British Isles.
London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981.

 --  The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust,
1991.

Star of the West. Rpt. Oxford: George Ronald, 1984.

 433 
Taherzadeh, Adib. The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. Oxford: George Ronald,
1992.

 --  The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1. Oxford: George Ronald, 1974.

 --  The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2. Oxford: George Ronald, 1977.

 --  The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 3. Oxford: George Ronald, 1983.

 --  The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4. Oxford: George Ronald, 1987.

The Universal House of Justice. Messages from the Universal House of Justice
1968-1973. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.

 --  Wellspring of Guidance. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.

Yunis Khan. Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih.

References

A Note from the Publisher
1 . Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 144.

Preface
2. Ibid.
3. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 328.
4. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 90.
5 . From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 25 March 1930, quoted in Compilation, vol. 1, p. 366.

Introduction
6. Matt. 16:18.
7. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245.
8. For more information on the manner of revelation of Tablets, see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, pp. 23-4.
9. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 134.
10. See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, pp. 143, 149-53.
11. Bahá'u'lláh, in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 135.
12. Maidiy-i-Asmani, vol. 5, pp. 98-9.
13. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 98.
14. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, p. 15.
15. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p.8.
16. Shoghi Effendi quoted in Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 54-5.
17. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 144 .
18. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 328.
19. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 4.
20. ibid. pp. 19-20.
21. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 324.

Chapter 1
22. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 77.
23. ibid.
24. ibid.
25. ibid.
26. ibid. p. 78.
27. Iqtiddarat, p. 85.
28. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 100.
29. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 173.
30. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 3.
31. ibid. p. 211.

 435 
Chapter 2

32. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day is Come, pp. 40-l.
33. See 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 95.
34. See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2.
35. Blomfield, Chosen Highway, pp. 39-40.
36. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 188.
37. Bahá'u'lláh, in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 148.
38. There is a further reference to him to chapter 13.
39. Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 24.

Chapter 3
40. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 121.
41. ibid. para. 174.
42. Quoted by Fadil-i-Yazdi in his Manahiju'l-Ahkam, vol. 2, p. 657.
43. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 1.
44. ibid. p. 2.
45. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 90.
46. Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic no. 4.
47. The full text of this Tablet, with an explanation of its significance, is given in Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 1, chapter 14.
48. Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 223-4.
49. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 87.

Chapter 4
50. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 221.
51. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 144.
52. ibid. p. 153
53. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245.
54. Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 131.
55. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 173.
56. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablet of Ahmad, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 211.
57. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 337-8.

Chapter 5
58. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 9.
59. Ma'idiy-i-Asma'ni, vol. 9, p. 128.
60. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 100-l.
61. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 190.
62. ibid.
63. From an unpublished compilation, Iranian National Bahá'í Archives, no. 18, p. 41.
64. Gleanings, p. 287.
65. ibid. p. 272.
66. As an example, see the message of Shoghi Effendi dated 4 June 1957, 'Call to Hands of the Cause and National Assemblies', in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 122-3.
67. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 329-30.

 436 
Chapter 6

68. The Báb, Selections, p. 59.
69. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 52-4.
70. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, pp. 583-4.
71. Nabil, ibid. pp. 368-75.
72. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 22.
73. Quoted in Blomfield, Chosen Highway, p. 45.
74. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 109.

Chapter 7
75. ibid. p. 117.
76. ibid. p. 118-20.
77. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 120.

Chapter 8
78. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 133.
79. Quoted in ibid. pp. 147-8.
80. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 149.
81. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Risaliy-i-Ayyam-i-Tis'ah, p. 330.
82. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 35.
83. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 155.
84. ibid. p. 156.
85. ibid. p. 157.
86. ibid. pp. 159-61.
87. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 161.
88. ibid.
89. ibid. pp. 161-2.
90. ibid. pp. 170-l.
91. ibid. pp. 180-2.
92. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 185.
93. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 345.
94. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 184.
95. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Asrau'l-Athar, vol. 4. p. 349.
96. Persian ambassador, quoted in ibid. p. 186.
97. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid.
98. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 203.
99. ibid. p. 148.

Chapter 9
100. Nabil, Dawn-Breakers, p. 433.
101. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 583.
102. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 184.
103. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 22-4.
104. The Báb, Selections, p. 149.
105. The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 100.
106. ibid.
107. ibid.
108. The Báb, Selections, p. 3.
109. The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 171.

 437 
110. ibid. p. 154.
111. ibid. p. 158.
112. The Báb, Selections, p. 98.
113. The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf , pp 154-5.
114. The Báb, Selections, p. 157.
115. ibid. p. 131.
116. ibid. p. 155.
117. The Báb, Persian Bayan, III, 7.
118. ibid. III, 15.
119. The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 25.
120. The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 154-5.
121. ibid., p. 152.
122. ibid, p. 174.
123. The Báb, Selections, p. 104.
124. ibid. p. 100.
125. The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 151.
126. ibid. p. 141
127. ibid.
128. ibid. p. 152.
129. The Báb, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 29.
130. The Báb, Selections, p. 85.
131. The Báb, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 153.

Chapter 10
132. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 164.
133. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 248.
134. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 112-13.
135. ibid, p. 117.
136. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 2.
137. Nabil, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 113.
138. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 115.
139. Greatest Holy Leaf, quoted in Blomfield, Chosen Highway, pp. 50-2.
140. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, pp. 176-7.
141. ibid. p. 173.
142. ibid., p. 22.
143. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 133.
144. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Balyuzi, King of Glory, pp. 183-4.
145. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 168.

Chapter 11
146. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 165-6.
147. Quoted in ibid. p. 167.
148. Quoted in ibid. p. 167.
149. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 76.
150. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 167-8.
151. ibid pp. 168-9.

 438 
152. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 77-8.
153. 2 Thess. 2:3,4, 8.

Chapter 12
154. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 326-31.
155. ibid. p. 323.
156. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih, pp. 51-2.

Chapter 13
157. Khatirat-i-Afnan, pp. 165-6.
158. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 328.
159. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih, pp. 59-60.
160. ibid. pp. 40-3.
161. Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 5, pp. 98-9.

Chapter 14
162. Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic no. 5.
163. ibid. Arabic no. 42.
164. Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 71.
165. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 53.
166. Bahá'u'lláh, Lawh-i-Tibb (Tablet of Medicine) in Majmu'iy-i-Alwah.
167. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 280.
168. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Compilation, vol. 2, p. 211.
169. From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 28 March 1953, in ibid. p. 223.
170. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 256-8.
171. ibid. pp. 260-l.
172. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 63-6.
173. ibid. pp. 259-65.
174. ibid. pp. 570-3.

Chapter 15
175. Rahiq-i-Makhtum, vol. 2, p. 850.
176. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 242.
177. Ma'idiy-i-Asmani vol. 8, p. 40.
178. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 251.
179. As an example, see chapter 12, the story of Haji Muhammad Tahir-i-Malmiri's first meeting with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali.

Chapter 16
180. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 285.

Chapter 17
181. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 334-5.
182. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, p. 216.
183. ibid. pp. 250-6.
184. Memoirs of Haji 'Ali Yazdi.

 439 
Chapter 18
185. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 222.
186. ibid. p. 219.
187. Quoted in Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 27l-2.
188. Quoted in Browne, Materials, p. 171.

Chapter 19
189. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 309-10.
190. ibid. pp. 313-15.
191. Owen, My Perilous Life in Palestine, pp. 230-5.

Chapter 20
192. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 45-7.
193. 'Abdu'l-Bahá quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 275-6.
194. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 174-5.

Chapter 21
195. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 37.

Chapter 22
195. Translation of Fadil-i-Mazandarani, Asraru'l-Athar, pp. 361-3.

Chapter 23
197. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, pp. 216-22.
198. Quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 67.
199. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, pp. 131-4.
200. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in ibid. p. 135.
201. ibid.
202. ibid.
203. ibid. pp. 135-6.
204. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, pp. 227-8.
205. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjutu's-Sudur, pp. 251-2.

Chapter 24
206. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Star of the West, vol. 12, no. 14, p. 233.
207. ibid.
208. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, para. 38.
209. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 210-11.
210. Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-i-Salih, pp. 357-8.

Chapter 25
211. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 278.
212. Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 4, p. 47.
213. ibid. pp. 123-4.
214. ibid. vol. 1, p. 69.
215. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 335.
216. 'Abdu'l-Bahá Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 51.
217. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 66.
218. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 343.

 440 
219. Bahá'u'lláh, Amr va Khalq, vol. 3, p. 121.
220. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 257.
221. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 16.
222. 'Abdu'l-Bahá Selections, pp. 251-2.

Chapter 26
223. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 222.
224. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 251.
225. ibid. p. 249.
226. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, pp. 141-2.
227. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 251.
228. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets p. 128.
229. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 8-9.
230. Quoted in Star of the West, vol. 12, no. 19, p. 303.
231. ibid. pp. 294-5.

Chapter 27
232. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 5.
233. Cooper, quoted in ibid. pp. 5-6.
234. ibid. p. 17.
235. ibid. p. 39.
236. Quoted in ibid. pp. 40-1.
237. ibid. p. 42-3.
238. See chapter 29.
239. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mahmud's Diary, p. 268.
240. Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 48.

Chapter 28
241. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 386.
242. Message of Shoghi Effendi to the 1936 American Convention, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 6.
243. Letter of Shoghi Effendi, October 1953, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 169.
244. Letter of Shoghi Effendi, April 1954, in ibid. p. 63.

Chapter 29
245. Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 53-4.
246. ibid.
247. Shoghi Effendi, quoted in ibid. p. 57.
248. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 320.
249. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 327.
250. Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 53.
251. Letter from Nellie French to Albert Windust, 20 April 1948.
252. From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, Bahá'í News, May 1934.
253. Quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 119.

 441 
Chapter 30
254. Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Persian no. 69.
255. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, para. 17.
256. Shoghi Effendi, quoted in Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 120-1.
257. Cablegram of Shoghi Effendi, 5 April 1952, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 24-5.
258. Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, pp. 121-2.
259. ibid. pp. 122-3.
260. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 3 June 1957, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 120-2.

Chapter 31
261. Mills, quoted in Giachery, Shoghi Effendi, p. 189.
262. Ransom-Kehler, in ibid. pp. 192-3.
263. Giachery, in ibid. pp. 16-20.
264. Collins, A Tribute to Shoghi Effendi.

Chapter 32
265. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 278.
266. Unpublished compilation, Iran National Bahá'í Archives, no. 27, p. 281.
267. Bahá'u'lláh, Iqtidarat, p. 249.
268. Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Persian no. 56.
269. Unpublished compilation, Iran National Bahá'í Archives, no. 15, p. 385.
270. Bahá'u'lláh, Mu'assisy-i-Ayadiy-i-Amru'llah, p. 11.
271. ibid. p. 12.
272. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 83.
273. From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 19 May 1969.

Chapter 33
274. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 24 December 1951, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World. p. 20.
275. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 9 January 1951, in ibid. p. 8.
276. ibid. p. 7.
277. Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 253.
278. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 29 February 1952, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 20-1.
279. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 26 March 1952 in ibid. pp. 132-3.
280. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 27 March 1957, in ibid. p. 174.
281. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 6 April 1954, in ibid. pp. 58-60.
282. Letter of Shoghi Effendi, October 1957, in ibid. pp. 127-8.
283. ibid. p. 130.

Chapter 34
284. Chapman, Leroy Ioas, pp. 187-90.
285. ibid. pp. 193-7.

 442 
286. Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, 4 June 1957, in Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 122-3.

Chapter 35
287. Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, pp. 441-3.
288. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 49.
289. ibid. pp. 53-6.
290. ibid. p. 57.
291. ibid. pp. 49-5 1.

Chapter 36
292. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 68.
293. The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 11.
294. Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 147-8.
295. The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 86-7.
296. The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, pp. 40-1.
297. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 147.
298. Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 261.

Chapter 37
299. Rabbani, Priceless Pearl, p. 447.
300. ibid.
301. 'Proclamation by the Hands of the Cause to the Bahá'ís of East and West', 25 November 1957, in Bahá'í World, vol. 13, pp. 341-3.
302. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 47.
303. Conclave Message 1961, in Ministry of the Custodians, pp. 321-2.
304. Cablegram from the Hands of the Cause, 21 April 1963, in ibid. pp. 425-6.

Chapter 38
305. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 68.
306. ibid. pp. 128-9.
307. ibid. p. 125.
308. ibid. p. 68.
309. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 88.
310. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 172-3.
311. 'Abdu'l-Bahá quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 84-5.
312. The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 11.
313. ibid. p. 41.
314. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 302.
315. ibid. pp .79-80.
316. 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Compilation, vol. 1, p. 416.
317. Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Corinne True, translated by the Bahá'í World Centre, 1977. The original translation was made by Ameen Farid on 29 July 1909.
318. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 80.

 443 
319. From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 28 July 1936, in Compilation, vol. 2, p. 369.
320. From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 29 June 1976 in ibid. p. 371.
321. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 5.
322. Letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the East, Naw-Ruz 111 - 1954, in Compilation, vol. 1, pp. 341-2.
323. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 52.
324. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, pp. 69-70.
325. ibid. pp. 129-30.
326. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Introduction to Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 5.
327. From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 27 May 1966, in Compilation, vol. 1, p. 358.
328. 'Abdu'l-Bahá quoted in the Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 84.
329. Bahá'u'lláh, in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245.
330. From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 18 April 1941, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1604, p. 483.
331. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, pp. 6-7.
332. Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Persia, 27 November 1929, translated from the Persian in Compilation, vol. 1, p. 333.
333. Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Persia, 27 November 1929, translated from the Arabic in ibid. pp. 333-4.

Chapter 39
334. Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 56.
335. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 30-1.
336. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, p. 219.
337. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mahmud's Diary, pp. 414-15.
338. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 97.
339. Bahá'u'lláh, in Huququ'lláh, no. 18.
340. From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 4 April - 3 May 1927, in ibid. no. 80.
341. Bahá'u'lláh, in ibid. no. 9.
342. ibid. no. 27.
343. Unpublished, Iran National Bahá'í Archives, no. 27, pp. 206-7.
344. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets, pp. 22-3.
345. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 241.
346. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, pp. 293.
347. ibid.
348. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, p. 40-1.
349. From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 17 June 1933.

Chapter 40
350. Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 1.
351. Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic no. 59.
352. ibid. Persian no. 27.

 444 
353. ibid. Persian no. 26.
354. ibid. Arabic no. 42.
355. ibid. Persian no. 11.
356. Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Prayers, p. 4.

Appendix 1
357. Shoghi Effendi, World Order, pp. 152-7.

 445 
Index