Segment 18: Bahiyyih Khanum: Actions Undertaken Upon the Death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Her Appointment as Headship of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi) – by Alfredo Ancheta​

Bahiyyih Khanum: Actions Undertaken Upon the Death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha.pdf

Segment 2 of ‘The Greatest Holy Leaf’

On November 29, 1921 at 9:30 am, the following cable reached Major Tudor Pole ‘s office address: “His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Baha ascended Abha Kingdom. Inform friends.”
Greatest Holy Leaf
(See The Priceless Pearl, p. 39)

The Greatest Holy Leaf (probably with few members of the Master’s family) cabled on 21 December 1921: “Memorial meeting world over January seven. Procure prayers for unity and steadfastness. Master left full instructions in His Will and Testament. Translation will be sent. Inform friends.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 39)

The Greatest Holy Leaf announced to the Baha’i world the provisions of the Master’s Will and Testament on 7 January, sending two cables to Persia: “Memorial meetings all over the world have been held. The Lord of all the worlds in His Will and Testament has revealed His instructions. Copy will be sent. Inform believers.” and “Will and Testament forwarded to Shoghi Effendi Center Cause.”
(See The Priceless Pearl, p. 47)

On January 16, the Greatest Holy Leaf sent a cable to the Baha’i world announcing the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will and Testament: “In Will Shoghi Effendi appointed Guardian and Head of the House of Justice. Inform American friends.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 49)
Although there was opposition to the appointment among a small minority of Covenant breakers, most Baha’is received the announcement with great enthusiasm and interest and pledged their support to the Guardian: “We long to assist the Guardian in every way and our hearts are responsive to the burdens upon his young shoulders…” (The Priceless Pearl, p 50)

The preceding events prompted Shoghi Effendi to select eight passages from the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha and circulate them among the Baha’is. Only one of these briefly referred to himself: “O ye the faithful loved ones of ‘Abdu’l-Baha! It is incumbent upon you to take the greatest care of Shoghi Effendi. . . For he is, after `Abdu’l-Baha, the Guardian of the Cause of God, the Afnan, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord, must obey him and turn unto him.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 48) “Of all the thundering and tremendous passages in the Will referring to himself, Shoghi Effendi chose the least astounding and provocative to first circulate among the Baha’is. Guided and guiding he was from the very beginning.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 48)

Before Shoghi Effendi reached Haifa, the Greatest Holy Leaf had been obliged to cable America on 14 December: “Now is the period of great tests. The friends should be firm and united in defending the Cause. Nakeseens [Covenant – Breakers] starting activities through press other channels all over the world. Select committee of wise cool heads to handle press propaganda in America.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 49)

__________

In a letter Shoghi Effendi “appointed a body of nine people to act tentatively as an Assembly” (See Priceless Pearl, pp.56-57) under the supervision of the Holy Family and headship of the Greatest Holy Leaf.

He is God!

“This servant, after that grievous event and calamity— the ascension of His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Baha to the Abha Kingdom—has been 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 fulfillment of my important and sacred duties. 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 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
(See The Priceless Pearl, p. 57)

__________

On April 7, the Greatest Holy Leaf wrote a general letter to the friends. She first acknowledges the letters of allegiance they have sent and says Shoghi Effendi is counting upon their co-operation in spreading the message; the Baha’i world must from now on be linked through the Spiritual Assemblies and local questions must be referred to them. She then goes on say: “Since the ascension of our beloved ‘Abdu’l-Baha Shoghi Effendi has been moved so deeply. . . that he has sought the necessary quiet in which to meditate upon the vast task ahead of him, and it is to accomplish this that he has temporarily left these regions. During his absence he has appointed me as his representative, and while he is occupied in this great endeavour, the family of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is assured that you will all strive to advance triumphantly the Cause of Baha’u’llah. . .” The typewritten letter in English is signed in Persian “Bahiyyih” and sealed with her seal. (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 58)

In her work during the transition period, the Greatest Holy Leaf’s last act was to send members of the Guardian’s family to find him and ask him to return: “In the autumn of 1922 the Greatest Holy Leaf, deeply distressed by Shoghi Effendi’s long absence, sent members of his family to find him and plead with him to come back to the Holy Land. In the street of a small village in the mountains, as he returned in the evening from one of his all-day walks, Shoghi Effendi, to his great surprise, found his mother looking for him; she had come all the way from Palestine for this purpose, accompanied by another member of the Master’s family; with tears she informed him of the distress of Bahiyyih Khanum, the family and friends and persuaded him to return and assume his rightful place.” (See The Priceless Pearl, p. 63)

Lua Getsinger, Herald of the Covenant

“Lua in Persian means ‘Flag’, and you must be my flag and wave it in the East and in the West!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to Lua Getsinger when she visited Him as a prisoner of ‘Akká, a member of the very first pilgrimage from America in 1898.Stepping up to the lovely young woman standing beside Dr. Edward Getsinger, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, seeing with His spiritual vision her capacity to become one of the great teachers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, put something into her mouth, saying,”I have given you the power to speak and loosened your tongue!” Dr. Getsinger tells us of the scene.”Then, the glorious Servant of God gave an exhortation into which He put such spiritual force and emphasis that it seemed as though the very walls trembled, and we were hardly able to stand on our feet. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was declaring that the millennium had come and the Kingdom of God was to be established on earth, and that he wanted Lua to proclaim it everywhere in a loud voice.”And from the beginning, she was able to speak fluently and brilliantly and without fear in any gathering, because of the precious gift bestowed upon her by the Master. In May Maxwell’s words,”As Qurratu’l-‘Ayn was the Trumpet of the Dawn in the Orient in the Day of Bahá’u’lláh, so Lua Aurora shall wave forever and ever the Banner of the Dawn in the Day of the Covenant.” 
~By Amine DeMille, “Lua Getsinger – Herald of the Covenant.pdf

Segment 17: Bahiyyih Khanum: “The Immortal Heroine” – by Alfredo B. Ancheta

Bahiyyih Khanum: “The Immortal Heroine”.pdf

Part 1 of The Greatest Holy Leaf

“We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 3)

“He is the Eternal! This is My testimony for her who hath heard My voice and drawn nigh unto Me. Verily, she is a leaf that hath sprung from this preexistent Root. She hath revealed herself in My name and tasted of the sweet savours of My holy, My wondrous pleasure. At one time We gave her to drink from My honeyed Mouth, at another caused her to partake of My mighty, My luminous Kawthar. Upon her rest the glory of My name and the fragrance of My shining robe.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 2)

“Let these exalted words be thy love-song on the tree of Baha, O thou most holy and resplendent Leaf: ‘God, besides Whom is none other God, the Lord of this world and the next!’ Verily, We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed. Thus have We preferred thee and raised thee above the rest, as a sign of grace from Him Who is the Lord of the throne on high and earth below. We have created thine eyes to behold the light of My countenance, thine ears to hearken unto the melody of My words, thy body to pay homage before My throne. Do thou render thanks unto God, thy Lord, the Lord of all the world.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 2)

“How high is the testimony of the Sadratu’l-Muntaha for its leaf; how exalted the witness of the Tree of Life unto its fruit! Through My remembrance of her a fragrance laden with the perfume of musk hath been diffused; well is it with him that hath inhaled it and exclaimed: ‘All praise be to Thee, O God, my 4 Lord the most glorious!’ How sweet thy presence before Me; how sweet to gaze upon thy face, to bestow upon thee My loving-kindness, to favour thee with My tender care, to make mention of thee in this, My Tablet — a Tablet which I have ordained as a token of My hidden and manifest grace unto thee.”

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 3)

Dearly beloved friends:

Moved by an unalterable devotion to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, I feel prompted to share with you, and through you with the concourse of her steadfast lovers throughout the West, these significant passages [1] which I have gleaned from various Tablets revealed in her honour by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
[1 Included in Sections I and II.]

Impregnated with that love after which the soul of a humanity in travail now hungers, these passages disclose, to the extent that our finite minds can comprehend, the nature of that mystic bond which, on one hand, united her with the Spirit of her almighty Father and, on the other, linked her so closely with her glorious Brother, the perfect Exemplar of that Spirit.

The memory of her who was a pattern of goodness, of a pure and holy life, who was the embodiment of such heavenly virtues as only the privileged inmates of the uppermost chambers in the Abha Paradise can fully appreciate, will long live enshrined in these immortal words — a memory the ennobling influence of which will remain an inspiration and a solace amid the wreckage of a sadly shaken world.

Conscious of the predominating share assumed, in recent years, by the American believers in alleviating the burden which that most exalted Leaf bore so heroically in the evening of her life, I can do no better than entrust into their hands these prized testimonies of the Founder of our Faith and of the Centre of His Covenant. I feel confident that their elected representatives will take whatever measures are required for their prompt and wide circulation among their brethren throughout the West. They will, thereby, be contributing still further to the repayment of the great debt they owe her in the prosecution of a mighty and divinely-appointed task.

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 57)

Your True Brother,

Shoghi
Haifa, Palestine
JANUARY 14, 1933
(Shared by Marcelina Duldulao, a Baha’i friend who works for Mr. & Mrs. Ali & Violet Nakjavani)

Segment 16: Journeys of Abdu’l-Baha: The Culmination -by Dana Paxson

Journeys of Abdu’l-Baha: The Culmination.pdf

In 1909, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was at last free. In an interview, He told of the climax in 1908 of the Ottoman persecutions aimed at taking His life:

“‘About this time an Italian ship appeared in the harbour sent by order of the Italian Consul. It had been planned that I was to escape on it by night. The Bahá’ís in ‘Akká implored me to go but I sent this message to the captain: ‘The Báb did not run away: Bahá’u’lláh did not run away; I shall not run away, so the ship sailed away after waiting three days and three nights.

‘It was while the Sulṭán’s committee of investigation was homeward bound that the first shell was dropped into ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd’s camp and the first gun of freedom was fired into the home of despotism. That was God’s gun,’ said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, with one of his wonderful smiles.”1

A year later, Sultán ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd fell. Shoghi Effendi writes:

“Within a few months, in 1909, the Young Turks obtained from the Shaykhu’l-Islám the condemnation of the Sultán himself who, as a result of further attempts to overthrow the constitution, was finally and ignominiously deposed, deported and made a prisoner of state. On one single day of that same year there were executed no less than thirty-one leading ministers, páshás and officials, among whom were numbered notorious enemies of the Faith.”2

Freed from the galling, painful, restrictive terms of confinement imposed upon Him, ‘Abdu’l- Bahá, then 67 years old and in failing health, soon began an unparalleled series of travels across the western world, unleashing the transforming energies of the Bahá’í Faith to whole continents and nations of a humanity thirsty for its divine sustenance, and responding with complete devotion to this yearning appeal of His Father:

“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.’ Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid up those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation.”3

Between 1904 and 1906, during His confinement some years before He began His travels, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave western readers a preview of what was to come, in the form of a now-revered collection titled “Some Answered Questions”, addressing topics which were to be repeatedly and richly presented during His talks in the many cities and towns He visited. The collection contains 84 separate expositions on a wide range of matters ranging from the influence of the Prophets to the punishment of criminals.

But this preview was barely a token of what was to come. As Shoghi Effendi put it:

“The establishment of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the Western Hemisphere—the most outstanding achievement that will forever be associated with ‘Abdu’l‐Bahá’s ministry—had …set in motion such tremendous forces, and been productive of such far-reaching results, as to warrant the active and personal participation of the Center of the Covenant Himself in those epoch-making activities which His Western disciples had, through the propelling power of that Covenant, boldly initiated and were vigorously prosecuting.”4

A detailed account of the Master’s travels in the next few years would far exceed the space of any essay; indeed, such accounts already constitute many volumes. Two collections of great continuing impact in the Western world offer us many talks given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His travels in Europe and America. These were transcribed and translated for posterity. The first is “Paris Talks: Addresses Given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912”. This book collects 53 addresses delivered at meetings in Paris in October, November, and December of 1911, along with six more addresses delivered in London in 1913. The second is “The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”. In this book we find 139 talks delivered all across the North American continent between April and December of 1912.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s journey was a staggering, personally-sacrificial, universally-illuminating odyssey, one that demonstrated beyond any doubt the power of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant and the station of its Center. It is utterly potent and deeply poignant:

“‘Abdu’l‐Bahá was at this time broken in health. He suffered from several maladies brought on by the strains and stresses of a tragic life spent almost wholly in exile and imprisonment. He was on the threshold of three-score years and ten. Yet as soon as He was released from His forty- year long captivity, as soon as He had laid the Báb’s body in a safe and permanent resting- place, and His mind was free of grievous anxieties connected with the execution of that priceless Trust, He arose with sublime courage, confidence and resolution to consecrate what little strength remained to Him, in the evening of His life, to a service of such heroic proportions that no parallel to it is to be found in the annals of the first Bahá’í century.”5

One single example of the fullness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s embrace of His service can be found in an address He gave in New York. In this talk, He spoke concerning the special and distinguishing Teachings revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, among them the oneness of the world of humanity, the individual investigation of truth, the unity of all the religions, the harmony of religion and science, the equality of man and woman, the necessity for universal education, and much more, including the establishment of the Universal House of Justice. But the greatest of all He saved for last:

“As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past: It is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief. To ensure unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people of the world, including the interpreter and explainer of His teachings, so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual understanding of the divine Words.”6

Later in His talk, He lays an obligation upon His hearers:

“My purpose is to explain to you that it is your duty to guard the religion of God so that none shall be able to assail it outwardly or inwardly. If you find harmful teachings are being set forth by some individual, no matter who that individual be, even though he should be my own son, know, verily, that I am completely severed from him. If anyone speaks against the Covenant, even though he should be my son, know that I am opposed to him.”7

The world-engulfing horrors of the First World War overwhelmed human attention in the years following the great arc of the Master’s tour through the great realms of the west. A very great work issued from Him during the closing years of that awful war: the Tablets of the Divine Plan.

Over the period of a year between March 26, 1916 and March 8, 1917, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave us this masterpiece of the Covenant of God, addressed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada. In one of them He mirrors the desire of His Father:

“O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá” in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.”8

To embrace fuller appreciation of the labors of the Master during this period, we turn again to “God Passes By”:

“The revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, during the somber days of that tragic conflict, had, in the concluding years of ‘Abdu’l‐Bahá’s ministry, invested the members of the leading Bahá’í community in the West—the champions of a future Administrative Order—with a world mission which, in the concluding years of the first Bahá’í century, was to shed deathless glory upon the Faith and its administrative institutions.”9

Bahá’u’lláh’s longing expressed in the Tablet of Carmel and the same longing uttered in the Divine Plan by His Son unleashed the effulgent flow of divine transformation across the whole human world. Nearing the end of His life, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá set forth His unwavering, inspiring guidance as the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant:

“O ye beloved of God, these are days for steadfastness, for firmness and perseverance in the Cause of God. Ye must not focus your attention upon the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, for erelong he will bid you farewell. Rather must ye fix your gaze upon the Word of God. … The friends of God must arise with such steadfastness that if, at any moment, a hundred souls like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá become the target for the arrows of affliction, they will not shift or waver in their resolve, their determination, their enkindlement, their devotion and service in the Cause of God. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is himself a servant at the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty and a manifestation of pure and utter servitude at the Threshold of the Almighty. He hath no other station or title, no other rank or power.”10

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ascension from this world on November 28, 1921 opened an entire new phase of development for the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It also triggered a crisis of transition that was to be resolved through two dynamic, divinely-potent elements: the wise, patient, steadfast guidance of the Greatest Holy Leaf Bahíyyih Khánum, and the Will and Testament left by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself, appointing his grandson Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Cause of God.

 

NOTES

1 From “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London”, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, pp. 118-119. It is also retold in “Stories from the Delight of Hearts”, by Ḥájí Mírzá Ḥaydar-ʻAlí.

2 Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, p. 272.

3 Bahá’u’lláh, “Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh”, from the Lawh-i-Karmíl (Tablet of Carmel).

4 Shoghi Effendi, “God Passes By”, p. 279.

5 ibid.

6 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Promulgation of Universal Peace”, 135.

7 ibid.

8 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Tablets of the Divine Plan”, 7 (“Tablet to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada”), Para. 7.

9 Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By [Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1957], pp. 405-406

10 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá”, 225, pp. 294-295.

Segment 12: The Day That Will Not Be Followed By Night: Mirza Yahya & Muhammad Ali -by Tim Nolan

The Day That Will Not Be Followed By Night: Mirza Yahya & Muhammad Ali.pdf

“There is, though, a great difference between this and previous Dispensations, for Bahá’u’lláh has written that this is ‘the Day which shall not be followed by night’ (“God Passes By”, p. 245). He has given us His Covenant which provides for a continuing centre of divine guidance in the world. The Bahá’í Faith has not lacked for ambitious men who would seize the reins of authority and distort the Faith for their own ends, but in every case they have broken themselves and dashed their hopes on the rock of the Covenant.” (14 January 1979, from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

———————————————————————————

The strength, the incorruptibility of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant can be seen in the fact that each of the major incidents of covenant breaking has been instigated, not by an unremarkable, insignificant individual, but rather by some of the most prominent, influential persons in the community, yet they failed in their machinations.

The Founders of past dispensations, for reasons known only to God, did not leave explicit, written instructions regarding to whom their followers should turn for guidance, after the Manifestation was no longer physically present. It is true that Jesus said to Peter “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) and “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:16). But these statements, not written down until several decades after the crucifixion, were not explicit enough to prevent the Great Schism of 1054 when the eastern branch of Christianity separated from the church of Rome, nor to avert the Protestant reformation of the 16th century. The division of the Christian community, as the result of lack of a clear covenant, has resulted in a “night” of lack of unity, and even wars. The Thirty Years War of the 17th century, which was partly the result of conflicts between Protestants and Catholics, left millions dead. In more recent times, the decades long conflict between Protestant Northern Ireland and the Catholic Republic of Ireland, resulted in many thousands killed or maimed, and thousands more terrorized. If the destruction of wars, the suspicion and hatreds resulting from differences of religious beliefs, are not a spiritual night, then what is?

In the case of Islam, the Shia branch claims that Muhammad nominated Ali ibn Talib to be His successor, but this is not specified in the Qur’an, and Sunnis do not accept that account as valid. When Muhammad was dying, He asked for pen and paper so His Will could be written; but “Umar said, ‘Pain is deluding God’s Messenger; we have God’s Book, which is enough.'”(1) As the result of the lack of an explicit, written covenant naming Muhammad’s successor, the Muslim community as a whole was deprived of the inspired guidance (2) which Ali and his successor Imams could have provided. In recent times, there was the Iran-Iraq war, which could have been avoided if the entire Muslim community had been united.

By contrast, the Covenants of the Bab and of Baha’u’llah are so clear and unambiguous that even the most prominent and influential opponents have not been able to destroy the unity of the Baha’i community.

Although the Bab did not name a successor, He did not leave any doubt as to Whom His followers should turn after His martyrdom, even referring to Baha’u’llah by name. At Baha’u’llah’s suggestion, He did name Mirza Yahya as the titular head of the Babis, in order to divert attention from Baha’u’llah Himself.(5)

Shoghi Effendi describes Mirza Yahya as “cowardly and credulous”, “vain and flaccid”. He was “irremediably corrupted” by the “black-hearted scoundrel”(3) Siyyid Muhammad. Although his behavior was shameful and confusing to the Babis, still as the Bab’s nominee, he had some influence over that community. During his villainous career, he corrupted the texts of some of the Bab’s writings, he incited the murder of Dayyan, the “repository of the knowledge of God”(4), he claimed that he himself was “He Whom God will make manifest”, and , most shocking of all, he poisoned his noble, sacred Brother, the Manifestation of God.(6) As a result of this poisoning, Baha’u’llah came near death, and had a shaking hand the rest of His life. Consider how great the harm that would have befallen all humanity if Baha’u’llah’s life had been cut short.

In spite of the influence he had, in spite of his scheming over several decades, Mirza Yahya’s attempts to undermine the Bab’s covenant failed utterly. Many of his followers left him and pledged their loyalty to Baha’u’llah. It is significant that he lived twenty years after Baha’u’llah’s ascension, long enough to see “every hope he had so maliciously conceived reduced to naught.”(7)

The second example of a person in a position of influence who attempted to break the Covenant is the case of Abdu’l-Baha’s half-brother, Muhammad Ali. The son of Baha’u’llah’s second wife, given the title of “the Greater Branch (Ghusn-i-Akbar) by his Father, named in the Kitab-i-Ahd as second in rank only to Abdu’l-Baha, this perfidious man, consumed by a “soul festering jealousy”(8) toward Abdu’l-Baha, behaved in a way that “…agitated the minds and hearts of a vast proportion of the faithful throughout the East, eclipsed, for a time, the Orb of the Covenant, created an irreparable breach within the ranks of Bahá’u’lláh’s own kindred, sealed ultimately the fate of the great majority of the members of His family, and gravely damaged the prestige, though it never succeeded in causing a permanent cleavage in the structure, of the Faith itself.”(8)

Muhammad Ali changed the text of at least one tablet of Baha’u’llah to make it appear that Baha’u’llah was condemning the wicked deeds of Abdu’l-Baha.(9) He plotted to murder Abdu’l-Baha. He made repeated false allegations about Abdu’l-Baha to the Ottoman authorities, so that the Master came perilously closed to being exiled to a remote part of the Libyan desert. In addition, from 1892 to 1929, Muhammad Ali and his relatives occupied the mansion of Bahji, where Baha’u’llah’s tomb was located, and it was not until 1952 that the property surrounding the Shrine was finally owned, without hindrance, by the Baha’i community. (10)

In spite of the high rank Baha’u’llah granted him in His Will, notwithstanding his temporary success in dimming the light of the covenant, Muhammad Ali came to an ignominious end. The Guardian wrote:

[Muhammad Ali] “was stricken with paralysis which crippled half his body; lay bedridden in pain for months before he died; and was buried according to Muslim rites, in the immediate vicinity of a local Muslim shrine, his grave remaining until the present day (1944) devoid of even a tombstone—a pitiful reminder of the hollowness of the claims he had advanced, of the depths of infamy to which he had sunk, and of the severity of the retribution his acts had so richly merited.” (11)

It is significant that Muhammad Ali, who died in 1937, lived long enough to see his hopes for leadership dashed, his plotting totally vanquished.

If the Covenants of the Bab and of Baha’u’llah had been challenged by minor individuals of little influence, an objective observer might say that their failure proved nothing, since those opponents were weak and of no consequence. Instead what we see is that the Covenant has been challenged, indeed the Manifestation and the Center of the Covenant were threatened with death, not by insignificant persons, but by the nominee of the Bab Himself and by the one named in Baha’u’llah’s Will as next in rank after Abdu’l-Baha. This is conclusive proof that this sacred Covenant is incorruptible. As Shoghi Effendi wrote:

“Despite the blows leveled at its nascent strength, whether by the wielders of temporal and spiritual authority from without, or by black-hearted foes from within, the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh had, far from breaking or bending, gone from strength to strength, from victory to victory.” (12)
———————-

Notes:

(1) Six Lessons on Islam. Marzieh. Gail, p. 11

(2) Marzieh Gail told this writer that Shoghi Effendi had told her that the Imams were Guardians.

(3) God Passes By, pp. 111-113

(4) God Passes By p. 124

(5) The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh p. 61

(6) God Passes By, pp. 163-182

(7) God Passes By, p. 233

(8) God Passes By, p. 246

(9) The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzadeh p. 153

(10) The Priceless Pearl, Ruhiyyih Rabbani, p. 231-233

(11) God Passes By p. 319-320

(12) God Passes By p. 409

Segment 11- Baha’u’llah’s Covenant: Unique in the Annals of History -by Dana Paxson

Baha’u’llah’s Covenant: Unique in the Annals of History.pdf

The claim to uniqueness in the title of this essay can be seen to rest on firm foundations, of which we examine these three: first and foremost its [Baha’u’llah’s Covenant] written, explicit, indisputable statement in the Hand of its Author for all to see; second, its evident and most-prominent place in a series of Covenants that have brought the Revelations of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh unmarred, whole, and vital, into the hands of the world’s peoples; and third, the utterly-diverging fates of those who either embraced or rejected it.

Regarding the first of these identified foundations, Shoghi Effendi writes:

‘… this unique and epoch-making Document, designated by Bahá’u’lláh as His “Most Great Tablet,” and alluded to by Him as the “Crimson Book” in His “Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,” can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Báb Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world’s religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Bábí Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá’u’lláh had Himself instituted.

‘“So firm and mighty is this Covenant,” He Who is its appointed Center [‘Abdu’l-Bahá] has affirmed, “that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.” “It is indubitably clear,” He, furthermore, has stated, “that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant.”’[1]

Also from Shoghi Effendi:

“This Primitive Age of the Bahá’í Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind.”[2]

The unique character of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, as expressed in His Kitáb-i-‘Ahd (Book of the Covenant) and Hid Kitáb-i-Áqdas (The Most Holy Book, the book of the laws of His Dispensation), emerges first in His explicit, written assertions in these two revealed works, assertions in a form unprecedented in all of recorded human history. In the words of the distinguished historian and scholar Adib Taherzadeh:

“Through these writings Bahá’u’lláh established a mighty and irrefutable 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 to someone as His successor, or follow a defined system of administration for governing the religious affairs of the community.”[3]

Regarding the second of the foundations of the claim to this Covenant’s uniqueness, one need only contemplate its place in the series of clear transfers of authority that began with the Báb and led onward through Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice, all in their ushering in of the great Bahá’í cycle of future Dispensations. This series can be viewed as the living realization of “the cord to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come”, as one reads in Bahá’u’lláh’s prayer to be recited during the Bahá’í Fast. The essays comprising the series of which the present essay is but one part, provide a broad survey of this theme, one which requires entire volumes for the beginnings of an adequate treatment. It should be sufficient here to note that in no other faith has such a cord of connection ever been explicitly furnished to the followers of God.

Regarding the third of the foundations of the claim, one is reminded of the challenge appearing in Bahá’u’lláh’s great Tablet of Ahmad, “Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel, and whosoever desireth, let him choose the path to his Lord.”

The uniqueness of this Covenant, termed the “Lesser Covenant” to distinguish it from the overarching Covenant of God with all of humanity for all of His Dispensations, is demonstrated most clearly through its continuing shielding of the Bahá’í Community from schism, deformity, and confusion. The choice of devotion or infidelity stands always before each of us. In His Tablet of Visitation, Bahá’u’lláh testifies to this divergence:

“I bear witness… that through a word from Thee Thou hast decided between all created things, causing them who are devoted to Thee to ascend unto the summit of glory, and the infidels to fall into the lowest abyss.”

In a Tablet to Howard MacNutt, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote:

“Today, every wise, vigilant and foresighted person is awakened, and to him are unveiled the mysteries of the future which show that nothing save the power of the Covenant is able to stir and move the heart of humanity, just as the New and Old Testaments propounded throughout all regions the Cause of Christ and were the pulsating power in the body of the human world. A tree that hath a root shall bear fruit, while the tree that hath none, no matter how high and hardy it may be, will eventually wither, perish and become but a log fit for the fire.

“The Covenant of God is like unto a vast and fathomless ocean. A billow shall rise and surge therefrom and shall cast ashore all accumulated foam.”[4]

And so it was when the Bahá’í community was assailed by those who disputed the authority conferred on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant. No proof of the Covenant’s power is clearer than the sobering fates that befell those who attacked it, in stark contrast to the steadily-emerging splendor of the globe-girdling development of the Bahá’í community continuing today – the very community the attackers sought to seize for their very own.

For one mighty example of what befell the breakers of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, we turn to Shoghi Effendi once more, as he writes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s half-brother, Mirzá Muhammad-‘Alí and those who took his side against the Master:

“And finally, he who, from the moment the Divine Covenant was born until the end of his life, showed a hatred more unrelenting than that which animated the afore-mentioned adversaries of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, who plotted more energetically than any one of them against Him, and afflicted his Father’s Faith with a shame more grievous than any which its external enemies had inflicted upon it—such a man, together with the infamous crew of Covenant-breakers whom he had misled and instigated, was condemned to witness, in a growing measure, as had been the case with Mírzá Yaḥyá and his henchmen, the frustration of his evil designs, the evaporation of all his hopes, the exposition of his true motives and the complete extinction of his erstwhile honor and glory. His brother, Mírzá Ḍíyá’u’lláh, died prematurely; Mírzá Áqá Ján, his dupe, followed that same brother, three years later, to the grave; and Mírzá Badí‘u’lláh, his chief accomplice, betrayed his cause, published a signed denunciation of his evil acts, but rejoined him again, only to be alienated from him in consequence of the scandalous behavior of his own daughter. Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí’s half-sister, Furúghíyyih, died of cancer, whilst her husband, Siyyid ‘Alí, passed away from a heart attack before his sons could reach him, the eldest being subsequently stricken in the prime of life, by the same malady. Muḥammad-Javád-i-Qazvíní, a notorious Covenant-breaker, perished miserably. Shu‘á‘u’lláh who, as witnessed by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in His Will, had counted on the murder of the Center of the Covenant, and who had been despatched to the United States by his father to join forces with Ibráhím Khayru’lláh, returned crestfallen and empty-handed from his inglorious mission. Jamál-i-Burújirdí, Mírzá Muḥammad-‘Alí’s ablest lieutenant in Persia, fell a prey to a fatal and loathsome disease…”[5]

Contrast these sordid outcomes and others in the remainder of this sobering passage with the steadily-unfolding advancement of the Cause of God, alive, thriving, and animating human advancement in the world today, and we see an irrefutable, visible proof of the uniqueness of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. This “vast and fathomless ocean” firmly casts ashore all its “accumulated foam”.

The clear, explicit, written character of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant; its pivotal, enduring, and essential place in the stream of a cycle destined to span half a million years of continuing Revelations in the future; and the irresistible potency of its protection of those who enter unshakably into its embrace: all these testify to its utter uniqueness among the Revelations lavished by God on humanity. Thanks to the bestowal of this Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh, we stand near the very beginnings of a golden era of astonishment, wonder, and splendor.

Notes:

[1] God Passes By
Author: Shoghi Effendi Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979 second printing Pages: 412

[2] Citadel of Faith pp. 4-6

[3] Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. 99

[4] Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Source: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982 lightweight edition Pages: 320

[5] Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 316-320

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