The Teachings and Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – – By Shua Ullah Behai

Ibrahim G Kheiralla

This chapter is taken from a chapter of Shua Ullah Behai’s book manuscript in which he quotes extensively from the published teachings of his uncle Abbas Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and reproduces in its entirety the document regarded by all but a few Baha’is today as the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha. Because that document is very long and repetitive, only some particularly relevant quotations from it have been retained here and most of it has been cut. Several quotations from speeches and writings of Abdu’l-Baha have also been removed for the sake of brevity. Section headings have been added.

The purported will of Abbas Effendi contrasts sharply with his public demeanor and rhetoric and the principles he taught Americans and Europeans who were interested in the Baha’i movement. Abdu’l-Baha was known to his Western admirers for his mild manner and high-minded teachings of peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, religious tolerance and reconciliation; but in the document considered to be his will, he rails against schismatic rivals led by his half-brother Mohammed Ali Effendi, whom he calls “The Center of Sedition” and whose goal, he says, is to “utterly destroy and exterminate” the Baha’i cause. 193   He accuses him of having broken the “Covenant” of Baha’u’llah by opposing Abdu’l-Baha, who was appointed as the leader of the faith in Baha’u’llah’s will, and declares that this “grievously fallen” brother has thus been “cut off’ from the Baha’i faith, i.e. excommunicated.

Laying out the case against Mohammed Ali Bahai, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes several specific accusations: that he once claimed to write verses with equal authority as the writings of Baha’u’llah—ironically, something that Abbas Effendi himself did throughout his ministry after Baha’u’llah’s passing—and that he committed terrible acts of fraud and betrayal, such as tampering with Baha’u’llah’s writings, submitting libelous reports about his activities to the Ottoman government, and conspiring with Shua Ullah Behai and unnamed others in a plot to have him killed. Embracing the possibility of assassination or execution, he asks God to “make me to drink from the Chalice of Martyrdom, for the wide world with all its vastness can no longer contain me”; and he envisions his excommunicated brother as “afflicted by the wrath of God, sunk into a degradation and infamy that shall be lasting until the Day of Doom.” 195  The author thus casts himself in the heroic role of innocent victim and defender of the faith in the face of the sinister machinations of those he believed to be enemies—the Unitarian Baha’is, whom he calls “Covenant-breakers”— who are cast as the embodiment of utmost evil.
Also in the will, ‘Abdu’l-Baha appoints his grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, to a lofty station of infallible leadership as the “Guardian of the Cause of God.” He asserts that anyone who opposes or disputes with Mr. Rabbani has “opposed God” and should be expelled from the Baha’i community, and calls for “the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God [to] rest upon him!” 196 —much the same as his stance toward the Unitarian Baha’is. Surprisingly, he even goes so far as to say that “To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction.” 197

The overall tenor of the document makes it difficult to believe that it could really have been a celebrated progressive religious leader’s last message to the world—especially when juxtaposed with some of the other well-known writings, speeches and sayings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha that Shua Ullah Behai presents in this chapter. Mr. Behai suggests the possibility of forgery, seemingly unwilling to accept that his uncle could have written a will laced with fierce accusations of moral and spiritual corruption against his father and himself, and criticizes the appointment of a “Guardian” for the Baha’i faith, which he likens to a “little pope.” Mr. Behai praises ‘Abdu’l-Baha as a great Baha’i leader and teacher, and emphatically denies the charge made in the will that he conspired to assassinate him.

Shua Ullah Behai was not the only person to suspect that the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha may have been forged. A few years after the Baha’i leader’s death, an American Baha’i named Ruth White arose in opposition to the appointment of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani as Guardian—a position that was not called for in Baha’u’llah’s writings and which, in her view, seemed to contradict some of the teachings of Abdu’l-Baha. In 1930, she arranged for an expert to examine the handwriting of the document in which this appointment was made. Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, a British forensic scientist with experience in cases of suspected forgery, was commissioned to analyze a photographic copy of the will in question and samples of ‘Abdu’l Baha’s handwriting provided by Mrs. White. In his report, he concluded that he had “failed to detect in any part of the will the characteristics of the writing of Abdul Baha, as shown in the authenticated specimens,” i.e. the samples provided for comparison. Dr. Mitchell further stated that “the writing does not agree with the hypothesis that it was all written by one person,” suggesting that the will itself may have been written by more than one hand. 198

Although C. Ainsworth Mitchell’s report does lend some credence to the possibility that the “Will and Testament of Abdu’l Baha” was forged, either in whole or in part, it certainly does not prove it. For one thing, even if the document was not written by Abdu’l-Baha’s own hand, he could have had secretaries or relatives take dictation. Also, two important points have been raised against the conclusions of Dr. Mitchell: first, that he was not experienced in analyzing handwriting in the Persian script, and in fact was illiterate in that language in which the will was written; and second, that the other samples submitted to him by Ruth White may not have been Abdu’l-Baha’s handwriting at all. 199

The validity of the will was never contested in a probate court, and Baha’is have been asked to trust Shoghi Effendi and other supporters of Abdu’l-Baha who asserted that it was authentic—and nearly all, both historically and in the present day, have done so. As later chapters of this book reveal, there is a great deal of testimony from various early Baha’i insiders which would support the mainstream belief that the alleged will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha was consistent with his views and therefore probably his own—especially the parts about rejecting Mohammed Ali Effendi as a wicked heretic. No final conclusions can be drawn, however, without rigorous forensic examination and analysis of the original document and verified handwriting samples of Abbas Effendi and others who might have had access to it.

Also of note in this chapter is the fact that Shua Ullah Behai says that Abbas Effendi was born in 1841. This conflicts with the commonly accepted Baha’i tradition which places the birth of Abdu’l-Baha in the year 1844 on the same day that the Bab declared his prophetic mission, suggesting that this story may be mythological.
—The Editor

Ghusn-i-A‘zam, the Greatest Branch, Abbas Effendi, Abdu’l- Baha—The greatness of this personage no one could deny, as he was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, and the appointed leader of the Baha’is, according to the Will of Baha’u’llah, entitled Kitab-i-‘Ahdi.200

The pages of Baha’i history are covered with his praise. Numerous books have been published about him, by the believers and admirers, and all are testimonials to his greatness. Therefore I do not think that I could possibly add to what has been written.

His life, his orations, and his efforts in the diffusion of the sacred teachings of Baha’u’llah should be an example for the devoted followers.
He was born in Tehran, Iran, in the year 1841 A.D. 201  and passed away at Haifa, Palestine, 1921 A.D.
The following are some of his messages to mankind, and his will.

Teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
‘Abdu’l-Baha says in a letter to the Baha’is of America:
Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye deal unkindly toward any person!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness to any creature!
Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart, or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon the earth. 202

Again ‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is one requiring man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving, to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a well-wisher. Not that he should consider one as being an enemy and then put up with him, or to simply endure him… This is declared to be hypocrisy. This love is not real. Nay, rather, you must see your enemies as friends, ill- wishers as well-wishers and treat them accordingly. That is to say, your love and kindness must be real. Your well-wishing must be reality, not merely forbearance, for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy.

‘Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct their faults.
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about an-other, even though that other be our enemy. 203  204
To an American friend he writes:
[T]he worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of back-biting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity. 205

‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of the world of humanity. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all of the worlds of God are impossible for a soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also become realized. 206

‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Everyone must do away with false prejudices and must even go to the other churches and mosques, for, in all of these worshiping places, the name of God is mentioned. Since all gather to worship God, what difference does it make? None of these worship Satan. The Mohammedans must go to the churches of the Christians and [the synagogues] of the Jews, and vice-versa, the others must go to the Mohammedan mosques. They hold aloof from one another merely because of unfounded prejudices and dogmas. In America, I went to the Jewish synagogues, which are similar to the Christian churches, and I saw them worshiping God everywhere. In most of these places I spoke to them about the original foundations of the divine religions and I explained to them the proofs of the validity of the divine prophets and of the holy Manifestations. I encouraged them to do away with blind imitations. All of the leaders must, likewise, go to the churches of one another and speak of the foundation and of the fundamental principles of the divine religions. In the utmost unity and harmony, they must worship God, in the worshiping places of one another and they must abandon these false fanaticism. 207

‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality, and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears, nor comprehend with another’s brain. … Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God. 208

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s definition of “What is a Baha’i?”:
When asked on one occasion: “What is a Baha’i?” ‘Abdu’l Baha replied: “To be a Baha’i simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” … In one of [h]is London talks [h]e said that a man may be a Baha’i even if he has never heard the name of Baha’u’llah. He added:—“The man who lives the life according to the teachings of Baha’u’llah is already a Baha’i. On the other hand, a man may call himself a Baha’i for fifty years, and if he does not live the life he is not a Baha’i. An ugly man may call himself hand-some, but he deceives no one…” 209

[‘Abdu’l-Baha says:]
We are commanded to quicken the souls, to train the characters, to illumine the realm of man, to guide all the inhabitants of the earth, to create concord and unity among all men, and to lead the world of humanity to the Fountain of the Everlasting Glory. The reformation of one empire is not our aim; nay, rather we invoke from God that all the regions of the world be reformed and cultivated; the republic of men become the manifestors of the bounty of the most glorious Lord; the East and the West be brought nearer together… in brief, all the nations and peoples of the world become as one soul and one spirit, in order that strife and warfare be entirely removed and the rancor and hostility disappear, so that all become as the waves of one ocean, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one rose-garden, the trees of one orchard, the grains of one harvest, and the plants of one meadow. 210

[‘Abdu’l-Baha says:]
The Baha’i Movement is not an organization. You can never organize the Baha’i Cause. The Baha’i Movement is the spirit of this age. It is the essence of all the highest ideals of this century. The Baha’i Cause is an inclusive movement: The teachings of all the religions and societies are found here; the Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Theosophists, Freemasons, Spiritualists, et. ah, find their highest aims in this Cause. Even the Socialists and philosophers find their theories fully developed in this Movement.  211

[‘Abdu’l-Baha says:]
Be ye not seated and silent! Diffuse the glad-tidings of the Kingdom far and wide to the ears, promulgate the word of God… arise ye with such qualities and attributes that ye may continually be-stow life to the body of the world, and nurse the infants of the universe up to the station of maturity and perfection. En kindle with all your might in every meeting the light of the love of God, gladden and cheer every heart with the utmost loving-kindness, show forth your love to the strangers just as you show forth to your relations. If a soul is seeking to quarrel, ask ye for reconciliation; if he blame you, praise (him); if he give you a deadly poison, bestow ye an all-healing antidote; if he createth death, administer ye eternal life; if he becometh a thorn, change ye into roses and hyacinths. Perchance, through such deeds and words, this darkened world will become illuminated, this terrestrial universe will become transformed into a heavenly realm, and this satanic prison become a divine court; warfare and bloodshed be annihilated, and love and faithfulness hoist the tent of unity upon the apex of the world.  212

In his farewell address to the Baha’is in New York, USA, ‘Abdu’l- Baha said :
You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise with-out distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of an-other. Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good…. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Be-ware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.
In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Baha’i.  213

Excerpts from the Alleged Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

[Three years after ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s death, his grandson Shoghi Effendi Rabbani allowed the leaders of the North American Baha’i community to distribute to the members a document purported to be the last will and testament of the deceased successor of Baha’u’llah, forbidding them from publishing any part of it or disseminating it to nonbelievers:]

I feel that the conditions are now favorable for the circulation of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha only in manuscript form and among recognized believers in America. Every such believer should be trusted with a single copy with the express understanding that no duplicate copies or extracts of it be made or published anywhere. 214

The will was issued in accordance with the conditions laid down by Shoghi Effendi, by the National Spiritual Assembly, in February, 1925. [The following are excerpts from the will, which was eventually made available to the general public.]
[The document contains serious charges and a statement of excommunication pronounced against Mohammed Ali EfFendi, the eldest surviving son of Baha’u’llah:]

O ye that stand fast and firm in the Covenant! The Center of Sedition, the Prime Mover of mischief, Mirza Muhammad ‘All, hath passed out from under the shadow of the Cause, hath broken the Covenant, hath falsified the Holy Text, hath inflicted a grievous loss upon the true Faith of God, hath scattered His people, hath with bitter rancor endeavored to hurt ‘Abdul-Baha and hath assailed with the utmost enmity this servant of the Sacred Threshold. Every dart he seized and hurled to pierce the breast of this wronged servant, no wound did he neglect to grievously inflict upon me, no venom did he spare but he poisoned therewith the life of this hapless one…. [I]t is incumbent upon everyone to hold fast 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 (Baha’u’llah) 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…. Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught.”

… Ere long will ye behold him and his associates, outwardly and inwardly, condemned to utter ruin.

What deviation can be greater than breaking the Covenant of God!… What deviation can be greater than calumniating the Center of the Covenant [‘Abdu’l-Baha] himself! What deviation can be more glaring than spreading broadcast false and foolish reports touching the Temple of God’s Testament! 215  What deviation can be more grievous than decreeing the death of the Center of the Covenant, supported by the holy verse:—“He that layeth a claim ere the passing of a thousand years…,” 216  whilst he (Muhammad ‘All) without shame in the days of the Blessed Beauty [Baha’u’llah] had advanced such a claim as this and been confuted by Him in the aforementioned manner, the text of his claim being still extant in his own handwriting and bearing his own seal….

[I]n concert with others, he that hath broken the Covenant, hath prepared a document teeming with calumny and slander wherein, the Lord forbid, among many similar slanderous charges, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is deemed a deadly enemy, the ill-wisher of the Crown. They so perturbed the minds of the members of the Im-perial Government that at last a Committee of Investigation was sent from the seat of His Majesty’s Government which, violating every rule of justice and equity that befit His Imperial Majesty, nay, with the most glaring injustice, proceeded with its investigations.

… One of their many calumnies was that this servant had raised aloft a banner in this city, had summoned the people together under it, had established a new sovereignty for himself, had erected upon Mount Carmel a mighty stronghold, had rallied around him all the peoples of the land and made them obedient to him, had caused disruption in the Faith of Islam, had covenanted with the following of Christ and, God forbid, had purposed to cause the gravest breach in the mighty power of the Crown. May the Lord protect us from such atrocious falsehoods!…

In like manner, the focal Center of Hate [Mohammed Ali], hath purposed to put Abdu’l-Baha to death and this is supported by the testimony written by Mirza Shu‘a‘u’llah [i.e. Shua Ullah Behai] himself and is here enclosed.217  It is evident and indisputable that they are privily and with the utmost subtlety engaged in conspiring against me. The following are his very words written by him in this letter:—“I curse at every moment him that hath kindled this discord, imprecate in these words ‘Lord! have no mercy upon him’ and I hope ere long God will make manifest the one that shall have no pity on him, who now weareth another garb and about whom I cannot any more explain.” Reference he doth make by these words to the sacred verse that beginneth as follows:—“He that layeth a claim ere the passing of a thousand years…” 218  Reflect! How intent they are upon the death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha!…

In short, O ye beloved of the Lord! The Center of Sedition, Mirza Muhammad ‘All, in accordance with the decisive words of God and by reason of his boundless transgression, hath grievously fallen and been cut off from the Holy Tree [i.e. excommunicated]. Verily, we wronged them not, but they have wronged themselves!  219
[The document also refers to a charge made against Mohammed Ali Effendi in a letter distributed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, which was written by Badi Ullah Effendi when he briefly switched sides in the conflict between his elder brothers, and accuses the latter of materialistic motives, duplicity and spying:]

Adversities have waxed still more severe as they rose with unbearable cruelty to overpower and crush me, as they scattered far and wide their scrolls of doubt and in utter falsehood hurled their calumnies upon me. Not content with this, their chief [Mohammed Ali], O my God, hath dared to interpolate Thy Book [i.e. Ba- ha’u’llah’s “Book of the Temple”], to fraudulently alter Thy decisive Holy Text and falsify that which hath been revealed by Thy All- Glorious Pen. He did also maliciously insert that which Thou didst reveal for the one that hath wrought the most glaring cruelty upon Thee, disbelieved in Thee and denied Thy wondrous Signs [i.e. Subh-i-Azal], into what Thou didst reveal forth is servant of Thine that hath been wronged in this world. 220 All this he did that he might beguile the souls of men and breathe his evil whispering into the hearts of Thy devoted ones. Thereunto did their second chief [BadiUllah] testify, confessing it in his own handwriting, set¬ting thereupon his seal and spreading it throughout all regions….
Gracious God! After Mirza Badi’u’llah had declared in his own handwriting that this man (Muhammad ‘All) had broken the Covenant and had proclaimed his falsification of the Holy Text, he realized that to return to the True Faith and pay allegiance to the Covenant and Testament would in no wise promote his selfish desires. He thus repented and regretted the thing he had done and attempted privily to gather in his printed confessions, plotted darkly with the Center of Sedition against me and informed him daily of all the happenings within my household. 221   222

[Here the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha commands the Baha’is to shun Mohammed Ali Effendi, his supporters, and anyone who has any connection at all with him:]

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, ex-terminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past….

[S]hould this man [Mohammed Ali] succeed in bringing disruption into the Cause of God, he will utterly destroy and exterminate it. Beware lest ye approach this man, for to approach him is worse than approaching fire!…

[I]t is incumbent upon the friends that are fast and firm in the Covenant and Testament to be ever wakeful lest after this wronged one [i.e. ‘Abdu’l-Baha] is gone this alert and active worker of mischief may cause disruption, privily sow the seeds of doubt and sedition and utterly root out the Cause of God. A thousand times shun his company. Take heed and be on your guard. Watch and examine; should anyone, openly or privily, have the least connection with him, cast him out from your midst, for he will surely cause disruption and mischief. 223

[T]he beloved of the Lord must entirely shun them [i.e. the fol-lowers of Mohammed Ali], avoid them, foil their machinations and evil whispering, guard the Law of God and His religion, engage one and all in diffusing widely the sweet savors of God and to the best of their endeavor proclaim His Teachings.224

[Having given the reader reasons to believe that Mohammed Ali Effendi should not become the second successor of Baha’u’llah as envisioned in his will, the author of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha appoints Shoghi Effendi Rabbani to a position of “Guardianship” with supreme authority as the representative of God and chairman of the Universal House of Justice, and decrees that he should be succeeded by his lineal descendants:]

Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon that primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree [i.e. Shoghi Effendi], grown out, blest, tender, verdant and flourishing from the Twin Holy Trees [the Bab and Baha’u’llah]; the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas; … [and] upon them that have believed, rested assured, stood steadfast in His Covenant and followed the Light that after my passing shineth from the Day spring of Divine Guidance—for behold! he [Shoghi Effendi] is the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees.225  Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind….

O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches) [i.e. sons of Baha’u’llah], the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree [i.e. relatives of the Bab], the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God [i.e. highest appointed Baha’i leaders] and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty [i.e. followers of Baha’u’llah] to turn unto Shoghi Effendi… as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God… He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants.

The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty [Baha’u’llah], under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One [the Bab] (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not [i.e. the Guardian], neither obeyeth them [the House of Justice], hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieved! in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him! The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the Guardian of the Cause of God. 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. 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 Center of Sedition. Beware, beware, lest the days after the ascension (of Baha’u’llah) be repeated when the Center of Sedition [Mohammed AH] waxed haughty and rebellious and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and perturbed and poisoned others….

It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own Lifetime him that shall become his successor,that differences may not arise after his passing. … [S]hould the first-born… not inherit of the spiritual within him… then must he (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch [i.e. male descendant of Baha’u’llah] to succeed him.

The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons… [who] must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor….

And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error… the Guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. … Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the Guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead. 226

To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause [i.e. the Guardian] and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error. 227

[The “Guardian” is empowered to appoint and oversee a body of Baha’i religious leaders called “Hands of the Cause of God,” who are given the power of excommunication:]

[T]he Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the Guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Baha and in no wise accept any excuse from him….

O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command. 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. 228

[Baha’is are instructed to donate 19% of their wealth to the Guardian of the faith:]
The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him … It is to be offered through the Guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be ex-pended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal. 230

Reaction to the Alleged Will
When this will was published, I hoped that eventually it will be considered invalid, for the following reasons:

First, it is in violation of the commands of Baha’u’llah, and the laws laid down by him.

Second, it is contradictory to ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s own teachings, and Baha’i principles which he so nobly advocated.

Third, it is the destroyer of the foundation of liberty of thought, faith, belief, speech, and the press.

But my hopes were shattered and my expectations were in vain, when one of the Baha’i communities, namely “The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada,” attributed such a prominence to this will, by incorporating the same into the by¬laws of their organization, and compelling the members to become loyal and steadfast adherents to every clause of this will. Thus, reproducing the “catechism” of the old Roman Church:

• Baha’i Trinity [i.e. a trinity of divinely inspired chiefs of the faith: the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha].

• Baha’i Elders [i.e. the Hands of the Cause]. 231

• Guardians of the Cause, little popes, perpetual representatives of God on earth. 232

• Excommunications.

• Absolutions.

• etc. etc. etc.

I firmly believe that Abdu’l-Baha was too wise to leave such a will, and I am in doubt of its authenticity.

Denial of Accusations

In this will, I am accused that, “God forbid,” I have conspired against the life of Abdu’l-Baha.
How could it be possible that I should contemplate such an unlawful action towards my beloved uncle, my father’s brother, and the father of the dearest lady [Mr. Behai’s cousin Ruha Khanum] to whom I was engaged in my young days, and whom, despite the elapse of years, still I respect, cherish, and honor?

I emphatically deny the accusations against me in this will, and I believe that they are fabricated by those who wrote the will, for the sole purpose of gaining control of leadership, as it is evident today.

Complying with the commands of Baha’u’llah, I forgive my accusers. Thank God, my conscience is clear, my character is clean, my name is unstained, and I know that the accusations are falsehood.

Footnotes :

193. The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part Two, p. 21.

194. Ibid., Part One, p. 9.
195. Ibid., Part Three, pp. 23, 24.
 196.Ibid., Part One, p. u.
 197.Ibid., Part Three, p. 26.

198. A complete copy of Dr. Mitchell’s report is available online at http://www.

199.Sen McGlinn, “Mitchell’s mistake,” blog article at http://senmcglinn. w0rdpress.c0m/2009/05/27/mitchells_mistake/

200.Unitarian Baha’is referred to Baha’u’llah’s will as Kitab-i-‘Ahdi (“Book of My Covenant”), whereas in the mainstream Baha’i tradition it is called Kitab-i- ‘Ahd (“Book of the Covenant”) in English. Technically, Kitab-i-Ahdi  is correct, as shown by the use of this version of the title on an Arabic-language page of the Baha’i organization’s own website ( covenant.html, accessed November 12, 2014).

201. Cambridge University Professor Edward Granville Browne, one of the greatest early scholars of the Babi/Baha’i faith, also gives 1841 A.D. (1257 A.H.) as the year of‘Abdu’l-Baha’s birth, in his 1918 book Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion (p. 320). This is the same year given by Mohammed Jawad Gazvini in An Epitome of Babi and Bahai History toA.D. i8g8, translated in full by Prof. Browne in Materials (p. 47). Ibrahim G. Kheiralla relates in his autobiography (see Chapter 25) that ‘Abdu’l-Baha said he had been 27 years old in 1867, which would place his birth in 1839 or 1840. However, Baha’is today believe that ‘Abdu’l-Baha was born on May 23,1844, on the night when the Bab declared his prophethood.

202. Quoted by J. E. Esslemont in Bahaullah and the New Era (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1980 edition), p. 81.

203.Address delivered in Oakland, California, October 3,1912. Published in Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. n, p. 191. Emphasis in original. Available online at

204. Quoted by J. E. Esslemont in Bahd’u’lldh and the New Era (Wilmette, 111.: US Bahai Publishing Trust, 1980 edition), p. 83.

205. “Tablet to Doctor M. G. Skinner, Washington, D.C.,” 1913. Published in Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 11, p. 192. Emphasis in original.

206. Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. II (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909 edition), p. 459.
207. Quoted in Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 3, p. 37.

208. Talk given in Malden, Massachusetts, August 29, 1912. Published in The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition), p. 293.

209. Quoted by J. E. Esslemont in Baha’u’llah and the New Era (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1980 edition), p. 71. Pronouns referring to ‘Abdu’l- Baha have been changed to lowercase (see bracketed text), but were capitalized in Esslemont’s book according to official Baha’i policy.

210. Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. Ill (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909 edition), p. 490.

211. Shua Ullah Behai notes the source of this quotation as “from a booklet N. 9.” This editor was unable to locate an extant copy of the booklet or determine its title and publisher. However, the same quotation with slightly different wording was also published in Star of the West, Vol. V, No. 5, p. 67. This version is reproduced here; emphasis indicated in all caps in the original.

212. Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. Ill (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909 edition), pp. 503-504.

213.Talk given in New York City, December 2,1912. Published in The Promulga­tion of Universal Peace (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982 second edition), p. 453.

214. From a letter written by Mr. Rabbani to the American National Spiritual As­sembly of the Baha’is, dated November 27,1924. The full letter can be found in a “Compilation of Letters and Extracts of Writings from the Guardian Pub­lished in the Baha’i News of the United States, December 1924 – November 1934,” and was published in the January 1925 issue of that periodical. Available online at

215.The “Temple of God’s Testament” appears to be a reference by ‘Abdu’l-Baha to himself, similar in meaning to the “Center of the Covenant,” i.e. the person in whom Baha’uilah invested authority in his will and testament, known as the Book of the Covenant.

216. Baha’uilah strictly prohibited anyone from claiming to be a new messenger of God during the next one thousand years after his own ministry: “Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thou­sand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor.” (Kitab-i-Aqdas, para­graph 37).

217. This alleged testimony by Mr. Behai is not included in the book version of The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. As far as this editor has been able to determine, it has never been published.

218. Later in the verse, Baha’u’llah warns that a false prophet will experience a “merciless” punishment sent by God, but the specific nature of the punishment, and whether it is carried out by a supernatural or human agent, is not specified.

219. The Will And Testament of ‘Abdul Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, pp. 5-9.

220. The allegation is that Mohammed Ali Bahai changed one of Baha’u’llah’s writings which criticized Mirza Yahya Subh-i-Azal, a half-brother of Baha’u’l­lah who refused to follow him and who made prophetic claims of his own, by substituting the name of‘Abdu’l-Baha to make it appear as if Baha’u’llah’s crit­icism was directed at him. This is in addition to the previous allegation of in­terpolation, which is regarding the text of a book by Baha’u’llah that Mr. Bahai prepared for publication.

221  & 222. The Will And Testament of‘Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part Two, pp. 17-18, 21.

223.Ibid., Part Two, pp. 20-21.

224. Ibid., Part Three, p. 25.

225. Shoghi Effendi Rabbani was descended both from Baha’u’llah (as his great- grandson) and from the family of the Bab (as his great-grand-nephew). See Appendix B for genealogical lists of these two families and the intermarriages between them.

226. The Will And Testament of Abdu’l-Baha (Wilmette, III.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, pp. 3,11-12,14.

227. Ibid., Part Three, p. 26.

228. Ibid., Part One, pp. 12-13.

229. Baha’u’llah encouraged his followers to give him 19% of their wealth to be used for the benefit of the faith, a tithe he called Huququ’llah, meaning the “Right of God” (Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 97). He did not provide specific in¬structions regarding how the practice of Huquq should continue after his own passing, although he did write in his will that “The love of the Branches is in¬cumbent upon all, but God hath not ordained to any of them any right from the properties of the people.” (See “The Book of My Covenant” in Chapter 6). Nevertheless, some Baha’is gave Huququ’llah to ‘Abdu’l-Baha during his life¬time.

230. The Will And Testament of’Ahdu’TBaha (Wilmette, 111.: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1990 reprint), Part One, p. 15.

231.The institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, as described in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, is somewhat similar in function to the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church.

232. A more accurate comparison for the Baha’i Guardianship would actually be the Shi’ite Imamate rather than the Catholic Papacy, since the Guardians were to be descendants of Baha’u’llah in each generation as the Twelve Imams were lineal descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. However, in terms of functioning as an officially chosen, supposedly infallible representative of God on earth, the offices were similar.


Tributes to Baha’u’llah and His Mission – Compiled, by Shua Ullah Behai

Tablet of Baha'u'llahThis chapter is a compilation of excerpts from three articles about Baha’u’llah, his life, teachings, and mission, written by important figures in the Baha’i faith in the early 1900s. These articles were selected by Shua Ullah Behai and included in his book manuscript in a chapter called “Baha Ullah.” Considerably longer excerpts from the articles were originally included by Mr. Behai, but I have cut them further for the sake of brevity.

The authors of these tributes to Baha’u’llah are his eldest son (‘Abdu’l-Baha), and two of the foremost teachers of the Baha’i faith at the time: one from the mainstream tradition (Mirza Abu’l-Fadl), the other from the Unitarian Baha’i tradition (Ibrahim Kheiralla). All of them were essentially in agreement in their celebration and characterization of the founder of their faith.
—The Editor

His name was Husayn Ali [Nuri], later Baha’u’llah. He was bom in the city of Tehran, the capital of Iran, November 12,1817 A.D. His ascension took place at Bahji, Acre District, Palestine, on May 29,1892.

The following articles written by well-known personages briefly re-count the life and claims of Baha’u’llah.

From an Address by Abbas Effendi, Abdu’l-Baha 165

The Blessed Perfection Baha’u’llah belonged to the royal family of Persia. From earliest childhood he was distinguished among his relatives and friends. They said, “This child has extraordinary power.” In wisdom, intelligence, and as a source of new knowledge, he was advanced beyond his age and superior to his surroundings. All who knew him were astonished at his precocity….

Until his father passed away, Baha’u’llah did not seek position or political station notwithstanding his connection with the government. This occasioned surprise and comment. It was frequently said, “How is it that a young man of such keen intelligence and subtle perception does not seek lucrative appointments? As a matter of feet every position is open to him.” This is an historical statement fully attested by the people of Persia.

He was most generous, giving abundantly to the poor. None who came to him were turned away. The doors of his house were open to all. He always had many guests. This unbounded generosity was conducive to greater astonishment from the feet that he sought neither position nor prominence. In commenting upon this, his friends said he would become impoverished, for his expenses were many and his wealth be¬coming more and more limited. “Why is he not thinking of his own affairs?” they inquired of each other; but some who were wise declared, “This personage is connected with another world; he has something sublime within him that is not evident now; the day is coming when it will be manifested.” In truth the Blessed Perfection was a refuge for every weak one, a shelter for every fearing one, kind to every indigent one, lenient and loving to all creatures.

He became well-known in regard to these qualities before His Holiness the Bab appeared. Then Baha’u’llah declared the Bab’s mission to be true and promulgated his teachings. The Bab announced that the greater manifestation would take place after him and called the promised one “Him whom God would manifest,” saying that nine years later the reality of his own mission would become apparent…. The Bab was martyred in Tabriz, and Baha’u’llah, exiled into ‘Iraq-Arab in 1852, announced himself [as the new divine teacher] in Baghdad. For the Persian government had decided that as long as he remained in Persia the peace of the country would be disturbed; therefore he was exiled in the expectation that Persia would become quiet. His banishment, however, produced the opposite effect. New tumult arose and the mention of his greatness and influence spread everywhere throughout the country. The proclamation of his manifestation and mission was made in Baghdad. He called his friends together there and spoke to them of God. Afterward he left the city and went alone into the mountains of Kurdistan where he made his abode in caves and grottoes. A part of this time he lived in the city of Sulaymaniyah. Two years passed during which neither his friends nor family knew just where he was.

Although solitary, secluded, and unknown in his retirement, the report spread throughout Kurdistan that this was a most remarkable and learned personage gifted with a wonderful power of attraction. In a short time Kurdistan was magnetized with his love. During this period Baha’u’llah lived in poverty. His garments were those of the poor and needy. His food was that of the indigent and lowly. An atmosphere of majesty haloed him as the sun at midday. Everywhere he was greatly revered and beloved.

After two years, he returned to Baghdad. Friends he had known in Sulaymaniyah came to visit him. … The Persian government [had] believed the banishment of the Blessed Perfection from Persia would be the extermination of his cause in that country. These rulers now realized that it spread more rapidly. His prestige increased, his teachings became more widely circulated. The chiefs of Persia then used their influence to have Baha’u’llah exiled from Baghdad. He was summoned to Constantinople 166 by the Turkish authorities. While in Constantinople he ignored every restriction, especially the hostility of ministers of state and clergy. The official representatives of Persia again brought their influence to bear upon the Turkish authorities and succeeded in having Baha’u’llah banished from Constantinople to Adrianople, the object being to keep him as far away as possible from Persia and render his communication with that country more difficult. Nevertheless the cause still spread and strengthened.

Finally they consulted together and said, “We have banished Baha’u’llah from place to place, but each time he is exiled his cause is more widely extended, his proclamation increases in power, and day by day his lamp is becoming brighter. This is due to the fact that we have exiled him to large cities and populous centers. Therefore we will send him to a penal colony as a prisoner so that all may know he is the associate of murderers, robbers, and criminals; in a short time he and his followers will perish.” The Sultan of Turkey then banished him to the prison of Akka in Syria. 167 

When Baha’u’llah arrived at Akka, through the power of God he was able to hoist his banner. His light at first had been a star; now it became a mighty sun and the illumination of his cause expanded from the east to the west. Inside prison walls he wrote epistles to all the kings and rulers of nations, summoning them to arbitration and Universal Peace….

The Blessed Perfection was a prisoner twenty-five years. During all this time he was subjected to the indignities and revilement of the people. He was persecuted, mocked, and put in chains. In Persia his properties were pillaged and his possessions confiscated….

He bore these ordeals, suffered these calamities and difficulties in order that a manifestation of selflessness and service might become apparent in the world of humanity; that the “Most Great Peace” should become a reality; that human souls might appear as the angels of heaven; that heavenly miracles would be wrought among men; that human faith should be strengthened and perfected; that the precious,priceless bestowal of God—the human mind—might be developed to its fullest capacity in the temple of the body; and man become the reflection and likeness of God, even as it hath been revealed in the Bible: “We shall create man in our own image.” 168  … [that] although [we are] pilgrims upon earth we might travel the road of the heavenly kingdom; although needy and poor we might receive the treasures of life eternal. For this has he borne these difficulties and sorrows.

From The Behai Proofs by Mirza Abu’l-Fadl Gulpaygani  169

Although the calamities and afflictions suffered by the Blessed Perfection during His stay in Akka were beyond the endurance of man, yet, through the providence of God and His assistance, these torrents of disaster did not prevent Him from reforming the character of His followers, and the assault of hardships and grievances did not stop the spread of His teachings. For the tribulations of Baha’u’llah were not confined to the contradictions of the tyrannical clergy, or the calumnies of fanatical divines. Nor were His sufferings caused only by the injustice of statesmen and the covetousness of rulers, who accounted oppression of strangers and showing hostility towards those outside their faith as a religious duty. It was a greater task to beautify the character of His own people, than to defend Himself against exterior enemies. Guarding His followers from committing unseemly actions was more difficult than enduring the persecutions of the outsiders. For these people who had just embraced the Baha’i religion were formerly Babis, and… they had frequently departed from the limit of moderation, owing to the evil training of different leaders…. This latitude and laxity of principle likewise extended to the conflict and bloodshed permitted by their former religion, Islam. The Babis generally were ignorant of the ordinances of the Bab, and supposed them to be similar to the doctrines of the Shi’ites, which they considered the source of the Babi religion. This ignorance was due to the fact that the Babis were strictly prohibited by the Persian rulers from holding intercourse with or visiting the Bab, while the latter was in prison….

When Baha’u’llah appeared, however, it was but a short time before His followers became noted for their good deeds and just characters. As a result of His training, they soon became successful in promoting His word, rendered spiritual assistance to His cause, and were grounded in admirable religious beliefs. Day by day, His followers increased in number and the power of His word became more and more manifest, so that in a short space of time it was introduced into other countries and penetrated other religions besides Islam. Even the Jews, Zoroastrians, Nusayrites 170 ,  and other remote peoples who were considered as being absolutely extinct and lifeless, attained, by thousands, the honor of accepting His Cause. For this they fell victims to the tyranny and persecutions of the Muslims and their own former coreligionists; quaffing the cup of martyrdom with joy, steadfastness, triumph, and forbearance. This was a matter of astonishment to sagacious men, for these people were many in number and belonged to the rich classes; numbers of them were merchants and traders, and thus could not be supposed to have embraced Baha’ism in order to gain riches or fame. For the fol¬lowers of Baha’u’llah did not possess any wealth, affluence or material power which might induce people to join them. Moreover, after embracing this religion, they showed such steadfastness, that no fear of losing their lives and property could shake their faith. Therefore the Baha’is recognized this firmness, forbearance, and endurance of calamities to be a proof of the truth of this religion, and as the most manifest evidence and witness of the power of the word of Baha’u’llah….

The books, tablets, and divine revelations of Baha’u’llah contain treatises, written generally in answer to questions asked by people, both Baha’is and outsiders. For during His stay in Iraq, Adrianople, and Akka, when His name had become renowned in the world, and the penetration of His word attracted the attention of intelligent minds, the seekers after truth, who were earnest in the search for knowledge and wisdom, went to Him, asking intricate and abstruse questions. Those who were not able to visit Him on account of the strict prohibition of rulers and other obstacles, asked Him difficult questions through correspondence. He answered them instantly without delay or hesitation, although subject to rigorous calamities and afflictions. These answers were forwarded after a copy of them had been reserved….

He also wrote certain tablets which He sent to the crowned heads and to the chief religious doctors and divines. Thus, in a short time, His books and epistles were scattered like rose-petals throughout different cities, and the teachings given therein were poured forth like unto raindrops over all regions. So the voice of His Manifestation reached the West and East like a flash of lightning and His Cause penetrated other countries and nations. Some of the tablets He wrote in modern Persian, while others written in answer to the learned and leading Zoroastrians, are in pure Old Persian. Some He has written in eloquent Arabic, and others in ordinary Arabic of today, so that they may be comprehended by the common people. All of them are in the most graceful and elegant style, and although written without premeditation or reflection, are nevertheless in the most excellent form of composition….

The epistles and treatises of Baha’u’llah contain four different styles and classes of knowledge. Upon the understanding of these depends, as is believed by the Baha’is, the knowledge of the truth of all the divine religions. Without this understanding man cannot be thoroughly in¬formed of the benefits of religion, nor can ideal refinement and civilization be realized.

[1.] Some of them contain laws and regulations whereby the rights and interests of all the nations of the world can be perpetuated, for these statutes are so enacted that they meet the necessities of every land and country and are acceptable to every man of intelligence. In this universality they resemble the laws of Nature, which secure the progress and development of all peoples; and they will bring about universal union and harmony. The most important and best known among these is the Book ofAqdas and its supplementary tablets, revealed in answer to questions asked concerning the texts of the Aqdas; also the Tablets of Ishraqat, Tarazat, etc. To this class belong the tablets written upon the conduct of the “ascetic” seekers and strivers after truth. Such is the Book of the Seven Valleys, written in answer to Sheikh Abdu’r Rahman of Kirkuk, one of the prominent Sufi sheikhs of Iraq-Arabi. Although Baha’u’llah has forbidden Sufism, 171  monkhood and inactivity—i.e., abandoning the practice of trade and profession—yet, in these tablets, He has explained the manner of real devotion.

[2.] Some others contain solutions of the intricate points of the heavenly books of former peoples, which, before His Manifestation, were “sealed” by the seal of the Prophets; God having decreed that their opening and interpretation should be effected at the Day of the Lord’s Appearance.172   As the learned attempted to interpret them before the appointed time, they fell into error in apprehension of their real purport, and thus misled people instead of enlightening them. The Baha’is believe that , this very point caused the Jews to falsely deny our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Zoroastrians to consider all the Israelite [or Abrahamic] prophets as imposters. The Baha’is also believe that former interpretations of the Book are but false imaginations of man, and inversions of the Divine Word. To this class of [Baha’u’llah’s] writings belong the well-known Book of Iqan and the book entitled Jawahir u’l-Asrar (Gems of Mysteries), 173  revealed in Baghdad at the request of one of the nobility of Fars [Province of Iran]; in which He has opened the seals of the former prophetic books.

[3.] Some others contain prayers and divine eulogies, which instruct men in the mode of worship; supplications and communes, which are means of communion between the worshiper and the Adored One. The benefits imparted by such devotional acts are the illumination and purification of man’s conscience, by which the faculty of Divine apprehension is strengthened, the brutal qualities of man are refined, and the worshiper attains true realization and certainty.

[4.] Some others contain discourses and exorcisms in which He has explained the real meaning of the Unity of the Divine Essence and has demonstrated and elucidated the original purpose of the mission of prophets, as well as the stations of the separation and union of those dawning-places of the command of God.

In other words, in these tablets, Baha’u’llah has solved intricate theological questions in the clearest way, whereby He not only has demonstrated the truth of the new cause, but also the truth of the founders of former religions….

During Baha’u’llah’s residence in Baghdad, it was His custom to write the tablets with His own hand; but in Adrianople they were usu¬ally written by the pen of His eldest son, the “Greatest Branch of God” [i.e. Abbas Effendi], During the exile at Akka they were dictated to different amanuenses, including Mirza Aqa Jan of Kashan (the servant of Baha’u’llah), Mirza Mohammed Ali, Mirza Zia Ullah, Mirza Badi Ullah (the children of His Holiness Baha’u’llah), and Mirza Majdeddin, his son-in-law. These amanuenses wrote them in His presence from His dictation, and after collating and revising them, copies thereof would be forwarded to the questioners….

As to the devotional ordinances instituted by Baha’u’llah, these comprise prayer, fasting, and the pilgrimage to the House of God, according to details explained in the Book [of Aqdas]. These are duties which are incumbent upon all, if circumstances permit their performance. There are also invocations and prayers which the Baha’is chant in their meetings as a blessing, or the pious recite in private, while communing with God. Most of these tablets are already collected and compiled.

His ethical ordinances comprise laws commanding good qualities and excellent virtues, such as sincerity, faith, devotion, love, integrity, chastity, purity, trustworthiness, and piety; and forbidding people from evil conduct and abominable deeds, such as lying, backbiting, slandering, murder, theft, fornication, disputing and striving, even with enemies, etc…. Not only has He forbidden murder, conflict, and strife, but also slavery, self-exaltation, and all that may cause grief and offense to men; and He has commanded meekness and humility. It is revealed in the Book of Aqdas as follows:

Ye are not allowed to buy male or female slaves. No servant [of God] hath the right to buy another servant, as this is forbidden in the Tablet of God; thus hath the matter been written through mercy with the Pen of Equity. No one should glory over another; all are servants unto Him, and show that verily there is no God save Him. Verily He is wise in all things.  174  175

… He has commanded people to sincerely love every nation, without exception, as their own brothers—no matter to what religion and sect they may belong—and to consider it a most obligatory duty to purify their hearts and souls from former rancor. Therefore, He has commanded His friends to shun every word which might cause the slightest discord; to avoid cursing, execration, and all that gives offense; to serve all people; to glory not in loving our country, but rather in loving all the world. In this connection, He has said in the Book of Aqdas:

Consort ye with all the religions with joy and fragrance, so that they may discover from you the odor of the Merciful. Beware not to be overtaken by the bigotry of the Jahiliyyah11 among men. All come from God and will return to Him. Verily, He is the origin of the people and the goal of the creatures. 176

… In a tablet written in answer to the questions of one of the prominent Zoroastrians, He says: “The Peerless Friend commandeth: Say, O friends, the Pavilion of Unity is erected; do not gaze at each other with the eyes of strangers. Ye are all the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.”…

To sum up: In His tablets He has revealed wonderful words regarding the beautifying and perfecting of human characters and virtues which, as brilliant pearls, adorn and decorate the crown of the Icings of the world, and from which people inhale the fragrance of roses. They have proved effective in training and reforming the character of the Baha’is and in straightening the crookedness of the Babis, so that, not¬withstanding their greatly increased numbers, they have become universally celebrated for good conduct, noted everywhere for excellent morals; and nothing contrary to humanity or against the laws of the governments proceeds from them. …

Were the leading men of the Persian government to justly reflect upon these points they would acknowledge the favor and providence of the Blessed Perfection, and open their mouth in His praise. Moreover, if those leaders and statesmen who still consider the Babis and Baha’is as one community and blame the innocent for the sin of the guilty, were to use sound judgment, they will clearly see that… if different rulers in Persia had not, by the command of the ignorant clergy, prevented the Babis from intercourse with the Bab and had not so strictly repressed religious freedom, the Babis would not have remained ignorant of the ordinances and brilliant character of the Bab, and fought in self-defense, as required by their former religion. How is it that the Baha’is, while their number is now greatly multiplied and they are far more persecuted by the government than the former Babis, instead of defending themselves, do not even complain of any injustice? Why is it that their endurance and self-restraint is a matter of amazement to strangers, and their good conduct universally approved by all nations? It is because they are commanded to obey the government and to love the people of the world. Through Baha’u’llah’s teachings the roses of grace and com¬passion have grown up in the grounds of their hearts, instead of the thorns of enmity and hatred, and by Him the breeze of obedience and peace has replaced whirlwinds of defense and resistance. So the Baha’is have increased and their tranquility, dignity, and constancy become renowned throughout all regions and climes, while obedience to government, love, and brotherhood with all the different nations have become their obligatory belief….

The author submits that the Beauty of Al-Abha—exalted is His Glory!—has enacted laws and regulations concerning every point or subject referring to the preservation of society and the perfecting of human virtues; greater laws than which cannot be imagined by the possessors of intelligence. They concern manners and conditions of mutual intercourse, the founding of administrative organizations, the mutual rights of rulers and subjects, the spread of knowledge, respect due to philosophers and learned men, commands to refrain from rebellion against kings and princes, obedience and reverence to parents, the laws of marriage, and the mutual rights of the wife and husband, laws of inheritance, and other regulations. It is only through such laws that the union and harmony among nations of different religions and tongues can be effected; for, in enacting laws upon every subject, He has taken two points into consideration. First, that obeying and carrying them into practice may be possible for all peoples, notwithstanding the difference of their countries. Second, that they may not excite selfish prejudices and fanaticism. Through these laws, the breezes of ideal mercy and compassion will blow through hearts and souls, and the lights of real humanity will shine forth from all breasts. Thus, through the assistance of God, the spirit of disunion, discord, and hostility which divides nations, will be removed, and all the earth will be considered as one Paradise and one home….

In order to cause the spread of learning and enlightenment, He has made it incumbent to educate children of both sexes, and to train them in lofty morals. Should any one disregard these commands, and neglect the training of his children, the government shall educate and train them in the schools, and assess the expenses upon the father. Should the father be poor, the government must furnish the funds out of the money given to God, according to the law instituted in the Book [of Aqdas]; so that excellent morals may be universally spread throughout the world, and praiseworthy qualities may be firmly implanted in the hearts of both sexes from their childhood. He has so emphasized this command to educate children, that no righteous man will fail to realize the necessity of complying with it. He has included the teachers of children in the list of heirs, so that their care and fatherhood may be ever appreciated by the world, and they may be encouraged to educate their pupils. The substance of what He has said in the Book of Aqdas upon this subject is as follows: “Whosoever educates one of the children of the people who love God, it is as though he has educated one of the branches of the Blessed Divine Tree, and he is worthy of praise, blessing, and mercy of God.” 177  When one reflects upon this point, he will find that as God has strictly commanded the spread of enlightenment and education, and as the power of the Word of God will assist it, this law of educating children will cause the removal of the darkness of ignorance and barbarity from all regions of the world, and the promise of God, “The earth shall be illumined with the light of its Lord,”  178  will be clearly realized.
In connection with occupations and professions, He has said that God the Almighty, during this great Manifestation, has made it obligatory for all to occupy themselves in professions which are praiseworthy, such as trade, agriculture, handicraft, etc. He has also stated that gaining one’s living through means which benefit society is considered as worshiping God the Exalted. He has reinforced this command by en¬joining upon the people of Baha, abstinence from monkshood, Sufism, and retirement, as well as from ascetic discipline. He has commanded them to marry  and to be engaged in the spread of knowledge which leads to the prosperity and welfare of peoples, and the restoration of the world.

From “Beha ’u’llah’s Divinity” by Ibrahim G. Kheirulla 180

I am of the opinion that the prophets and Manifestations of God must prove to the people of the earth the truth of their divine missions by producing the following four evidences in order that the people may believe and acknowledge them. Should they present such evidences and yet should we reject them, it would be our own fault and not theirs.

First: To utter verses which contain striking truths and principles, whereby the human race is uplifted and elevated, and the extremely wicked become upright and good.
Second: Their appearance is foretold by the prophets of yore.

Third: To display a divine knowledge, which is beyond that of man.

Fourth: To show a superiority in their lives and in their personalities.

These evidences were fully established in the person of Husayn Ali [Nuri], so as to leave no doubt that He was the Glory of God, and the Manifestation of the Father. In brief, all the prophecies concerning the coming of the Father were fulfilled in Him…

[H]is teachings are not visionary nor prophetic, but practical, final, and useful to the high and to the low, to the civilized and the uncivilized. At the same time they are in accord with reason and science and in harmony with the laws governing the world.

For instance, history proves that neither through Christianity nor Mohammedanism could peace be established upon earth, for the first shed blood, if not more, not less than the other, as the present horrible war  181  bears witness. But in the tablets which Baha’u’llah, the Prince of Peace, sent to the rulers of the world, He prohibited them from warring with each other, and commanded them to settle their differences by arbitration. He also strictly forbade the waging of war for differences in faith or otherwise. By His teachings, He established the foundation of peace and enlightened the world with the light of union, concord, and love. He urged His followers to rise up by the help of God, and deliver the world from religious hatred and enmity, which are a consuming fire devouring the human race. He came to unite all those who are upon earth and to save the world from the fetters of ignorance. He said: “Let justice be your army, and your weapon reason.”

Baha[’u’llah] said: “If ye follow me I will make you the heirs of My Kingdom, but if ye rebel against Me I will kindly be patient; I am the Forgiver, the Merciful.”

Also Baha[’u’llah] said: “Communicate to all people what ye know,  with the language of love and kindness.” “Consort with people of all faiths, with fragrance and spirituality.” “Allow not the zeal of bigotry to display itself in you, for everyone cometh from God, and unto God shall he return. He is the Causer of their being, and the Center of their final attainment.”

The verses written by the Supreme Pen of Baha’u’llah contain an ocean of sublime spiritual teachings, thrilling precepts and admonitions, excellent bases of religious principles, just and equitable laws and edicts. … Through His teachings and commandments, the great peace shall come, capital and labor shall be conciliated, the wolf and the lamb shall live together, the unity of the [human] race shall be established, a universal language shall be adopted, and the people of the earth shall live as brothers, as one kindred, one family, loving not only their country, but the whole world.

All the prophets of yore foretold the coming of the Father and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. They gave the signs of His coming, and that Elijah shall come as a forerunner. They located the city of Akka as the New Jerusalem. They predicted the year of His Manifestation, and described the condition at His day. Every prophecy in regard to the Manifestation of the Deity upon earth was fulfilled in Husayn Ali, and proved that He was the Glory of God.

Jewish rabbis, Christian theologians, Mohammedan doctors, and priests of other faiths, all expected the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth in the nineteenth century.182  They were not mistaken, for the scriptures foretold His appearance. Jesus said: “the Lord of the vineyard cometh;”  183  “the Comforter will come;” 184  “when the Spirit of Truth is come he will guide you into all truth.” 185  He prayed: “Thy Kingdom come.”  .186

All the signs of His coming which were mentioned in the scriptures of different religions were fulfilled in the nineteenth century. Jesus Christ said: “The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto the nations, and then shall the end come.” 187   In the last century, the Christian missionaries preached the Gospel to all nations. Muhammad said: “When you behold the ships sailing upon the land, then he shall come.” The trains sailed upon the land a few years before [Baha’u’llah] manifested Himself. Nahum said: “The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall jostle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like lightning.” 188 

In this sign the material atoms declared the coming of the Glory of God. It is an accurate prediction of electric cars and modern vehicles, which throng our streets. “Behold I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5). In 1844 Elijah the prophet came, for there appeared in Persia a young man who possessed great powers of wisdom and spiritual inspiration. He is known in history as Ali Muhammad [Shirazi]. He called himself “The Bab,” meaning the “Gate” or “Door.”… He was [the return of] Elijah, the forerunner, and gave the glad tidings of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and the appearance of “Him whom God shall manifest,” the Glory of God.

Akka is the New Jerusalem, the City of the Lord, unto which He was exiled as a prisoner of the Turkish government, and from whence He departed [from this world]. It is upon the Syrian coast, nine miles from the foot of Mount Carmel, and during the Crusades it was the head¬quarters of the Knights Templar, who called it Saint Jean d’Acre. It is a fortified city and notorious for its unhealthy climate and filthiness. It is the Turkish city of exile and the place of confinement for prisoners of the government.

Isaiah (9:1) accurately located the New Jerusalem at Akka. [Here is a] literal translation of the prophecies of Isaiah by Professor [T. IC] Cheyne 189   of Oxford, England: 190

Surely there is (now) no (more) gloom to her whose lot was affliction. At the former time He brought shame on the land of Zebulun and on the land of Naphtali, but in the latter He hath brought honor on the way by the sea, the other side of Jordan, the district of the nations. The people that walk in darkness see a great light; they that dwell in the land of deep shade, light shineth brilliantly upon them…. And his name is called Wonder Counsellor, God- Mighty-One, Everlasting-Father, Prince of Peace…191

The spot described by the prophet between the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali is Akka; and to appoint the exact situation, he said: “But in the latter time, he hath brought honor on the way by the sea” (Akka).

From ancient times the highway to Damascus from the sea commenced at Akka. In [Prof. Cheyne’s] Prophecies of Isaiah we read in a note on p. 60: “Via Maris [‘Sea Way’], M. Renan observes, was the name of the high road from Acre to Damascus, as late as the Crusades. ‘Way,’ however, here means region.” Thus literally, the Manifestation of Jehovah, Baha’u’llah, appeared in the latter days and brought honor upon the “way by the sea” (Akka)….

The divine knowledge and wisdom which Husayn Ali displayed in epistles and tablets to his followers; in the just and beautiful laws he gave the world in the Most Sacred Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas); in the tablets which he sent to the rulers of the earth, inviting them to come to His Kingdom and partake of the spiritual banquet, to eat and drink with the elect; in His knowledge of the past and the future as was stated in His predictions, proved conclusively that He was the Glory of God, as such knowledge is beyond that of man.

For instance, in the second tablet sent to Napoleon III, he informed the Emperor concerning his past secrets, and judged him, because he cast aside the first tablet which Baha[’u’llah] sent to him. The prediction was that the [French] Empire would depart from the hands of Napoleon, and humiliation would come upon him, and commotion would seize the people of France, and his glory would pass away. A few months later Napoleon declared war on Germany and was defeated, dethroned, humiliated as a prisoner of war, and finally died in exile in England. Also the commotion seized the French people at the revolution of the [Paris] Commune. … [N]umerous written and verbal warnings of impending events which came to pass, are plain evidences of His divine knowledge.
The life and personality of Husayn Ali are convincing proofs that He was the Manifestation and the Glory of God. For forty years he suffered in jails and in exile; was oppressed and afflicted; was threatened with death by Mohammedan doctors and rulers; yet under the sword of the enemy He summoned all the people of the earth and their rulers, even those who imprisoned and exiled him, to come to God, the Creator of heaven and earth. At the same time he uttered volumes of wonderful teachings and precepts, vigorous in style, clear in argument, powerful in proof, displaying perfect acquaintance with the scriptures of different faiths. He spent his life for the salvation of our race, and suffered humiliation for our elevation. He was imprisoned to free us from the fetters of ignorance….

The wonderful and heavenly atmosphere of spirituality which shrouded the place of his presence, proved His Divinity. Professor Browne of Cambridge, England, the greatest historian of this faith, who recorded what the friends and adversaries said in favor or against Baha’u’llah, went himself and met Baha’u’llah in person, that he might be able to write from his own experience and knowledge, independently of what the others said. But he was attacked and blamed by Christian theologians and missionaries because he recorded his experience truthfully. While visiting Baha’u’llah], he wrote as follows:

I might, indeed, strive to describe in greater detail the faces and forms which surrounded me, the conversations to which I was privileged to listen, the solemn melodious reading of the sacred books, the general sense of harmony and content which pervaded the place, and the fragrant shady gardens whither in the afternoon we sometimes repaired; but all this was as nought in comparison with the spiritual atmosphere with which I was encompassed,… Let those who have not seen disbelieve me if they will; but, should that spirit once reveal itself to them, they will experience an emotion which they are not likely to forget. 192

Footnotes :

165. This speech by the son of Baha’u’llah on the “History of the Baha’i Cause” was delivered on April 18, 1912, in New York City. Published in Baha’i Scriptures: Selections from the Utterances of Baha’u’llah and Abdul Baha, edited by Horace Holley (New York: Brentano’s, 1923), pp. 285-290.

166. Arab Iraq (‘Iraq-i ‘Arab in Persian), which was part of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, there was also a Persian region called Iraq, or ‘Iraq-i Ajam, in western Iran.

167. In the Ottoman Empire, Syria was a large region which also included most of present-day Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon, beyond the borders of the modern nation of Syria.

168.See Genesis 1:26-27.

169. Mirza-Abul-Fazl, Hujaj’ul Beheyyeh (The Behai Proofs), translated by Ali Kuli Khan (New York: J. W. Pratt Co., 1902), pp. 62-70, 72-77,79-81, 93-96.

170. The Nusayris, more commonly known as the Alawites, are a mystical sect of Shi’ite Islam centered in Syria.

171. At the time, Sufism was associated with the extreme asceticism of dervishes, and was essentially an Islamic form of monasticism.

172. In Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as the “Seal of the Prophets” (Khatam an-Nabiyyin), i.e. the last prophet before the Day of Judgment. The Bab and Baha’u’llah reinterpreted these concepts to mean that Muhammad was the last of a great cycle of prophecy which began in ancient times, and that the Day of Judgment is a metaphor for the next appearance of the Manifestation of God (i.e. “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest” or Baha’u’llah), who inaugurates a new epoch of history.

173.  Usually called Javahiru’l-Asrar (“Gems of Divine Mysteries”) by Baha’is today.

174. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 72.

175. Note by Mirza Abu’l-Fadl: “This term was applied by Muhammad, in the Qur’an, to the Pagan Arabs. Here it means fanatics among the nations who have not believed in the Cause of God.”

176. Kitab-i-Aqdas (“Most Holy Book”), paragraph 144.

177. This appears to be a loose paraphrase of the last part of paragraph 48 of the Aqdas.

178. Qur’an 39:69. Also cf. Revelation 22:5.

179. Baha’i law does not actually require people to marry, but strongly encourages it. 

180. Excerpted from a chapter with this title in a book by Ibrahim George Kheirulla, O Christians/ Why do Ye Believe Not on Christ? (1917), pp. 97-100,102-104, 106-108.

181. World War I.

182. The most notable of the millennialist movements in the 1800s was led by William Miller, a Baptist preacher in the United States, who predicted that Christ would return in 1844, based on detailed calculations from his study of Bible prophecies. Although the Bab announced himself in that same year as a messianic figure expected by Shi’ite Muslims, the Millerites expected a literal, apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ which would be obvious to all the world, and they did not become Babis or Baha’is.

183. Matthew 21:40.

184.  John 15:26.

185. John 16:13.
186.Matthew 6:10.

187. Matthew 24:14.
188. Nahum 2:4.

189. Thomas Kelly Cheyne was an Anglican minister and Biblical scholar who held the distinguished position of Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford University. In the early 1900s he converted to the Baha’i faith.

190. Rev. T. K. Cheyne, MA., The Prophecies of Isaiah: A New Translation with Commentary and Appendices, Vol. I (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co., 1882, second edition), pp. 60, 62-63.

191. Isaiah 9:1-2,6.

192. Edward G. Browne, A Traveller’s Narrative: Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab, Volume II. English Translation and Notes (Cambridge: University Press, 1891), pp. xxxviii-xxxix.