Sunday, 17 January 2016

Memories of Mohammed Ali Effendi Son of Baha’u’llah 

I am the son of Mohammed Ali, son of Baha’u’llah. I was born in Kasr-el-Mazra’a,   Acre District, Palestine, 1878 A.D. and grow to maturity under the shadow of the Great Baha’u’llah.
Needless to speak of my connection with the Baha’i faith, as I am born and bred in it. Although I am molded with the teachings, and firmly believe that the Baha’i Principles are the most essential for practice in these trying days, but I am open for conviction otherwise. I am explaining this so my readers would not think that I am following the Baha’i Faith blindly or on account of my birth.
In 1889 while I was at the age of eleven, I was commanded by Baha’u’llah to accompany my father on his journey to Egypt and India. Haji Khavar joined us also as attendant. We embarked on a steamer from Haifa, Palestine to Port Said, Egypt. Upon entering the steamer that evening I was greatly amazed by the electric lights, as that was my first view of the same. The short voyage was not a pleasant one for me, as I was sea sick most of the way.
At our arrival to Port-Said we were received by a Baha’i delegation from Egypt headed by Agha Mirza Agha Afnan, and after the completion of custom House formalities, we were ushered to the house of the aforesaid Afnan, where we were entertained royally by our host during our sojourn there, which lasted twenty one days. Faithful Bahais arrived daily from all over Egypt to receive counsel and advise from my beloved father, and I as a boy used to enjoy their conversation and extreme politeness, immensely.
For the enlightenment of the young readers I must illustrate that from my childhood I was reared with grown people and I had a very limited number of selected boys of my age to play with, therefore it was natural for me to associate with young and old, especially as in those days most of the followers were former theologians, soufis, scientists, and philosophers.
From Port-Said we boarded an Italian steamer, passing thru the Suez Canal and from there to Aden Yaman, where our steamer docked the entire day. We landed for a few hours and enjoyed a cup of coffee and some dates.
On the twelfth day we reached our destination Bombay, India. Upon landing in Bombay I had another surprise, observing the nudity of the natives. This seems natural nowadays.
At our arrival to Bombay we were received by Haji Sayed Mirza Afnan, his brother Haji Sayyed Mohammed Afnan and others, amongst them Sayed Hadi Afnan (who later married the eldest daughter of my uncle Abdul Baha, and (so he is the father of Shoghi Effendi). We stayed at the abode of Haji Sayyed Mirza Afnan, which was located at Byculla Bombay.
After a few weeks we secured a nice little bungalow house surrounded (with) by a flower garden near the Mahalakshmi Railway Station. At that time the horse race track was in that section. We spent over a year in the city of Bombay, occasionally traveling to the nearby country sides as Pune and Kandala etc. My beloved father was occupied receiving visitors and arranging the printing of several books of the teachings of Baha’u’llah. I was studying French under a private teacher, as at that time the French language was the most popular in our country, which then was called Syria, under the Ottoman Rule. I was greatly impressed by the natives of India, their sincerity, simpleness, humbleness and kindness.
On our return to Acre Palestine we stopped at Cairo Egypt. We were the guests of Haji Mirza Hassan Shirazi, Better known as Khorasani. I had the opportunity to see the points of interest in Cairo also. After a few days we arrived at home and again I was privileged to be with my mighty Grand-father Baha’u’llah after the elapse of fifteen months.
During our preparation to leave Bombay the aforesaid Sayed Hadi Afnan begged my father for permission to join us, so we had an extra companion on our return voyage from Bombay to Egypt. On the steamer Haji Khavar prepared our meals and the said Sayed Hadi Afnan took care of several large flat baskets, each containing three ports of different flowers and young trees that my father brought with him from India. Indeed it was through his energetic care of watering them regularly and removing them from place to place when needed that they reached their destination safely.
Two years after our return from India the ascension of Baha’u’llah took place. The events which happened after His ascension are recorded briefly in my father’s Autobiography, and I refer my good readers to them.
A few years before my journey to India, Sayed Assadullah of Ghom was appointed as tutor for my brother Mirza Amin Ullah who is four years my junior and myself. Although he was a companion more than a teacher yet he served us faithfully to the best of his ability until a few months after the ascension of Baha’u’llah when he had to leave us and return to his native land Iran to become a Baha’i missionary. The following years I had several private teachers, and occasionally I took English lessons also.
During my young days I was very fond of horseback riding and hunting. In those days the means of transportation were confined to horses, mules, donkeys or camels, as modern vehicles were not in existence in the Orient, therefore we all grow learning horse riding. Also hunting was the only sport available as we had no golf or tennis grounds, cinemas or theaters.
After reaching the age of maturity I became engaged to my cousin Ruha Khanum one of the twin daughters of my uncle Abdul Baha. We were extremely in love with each other,           but on account of the sudden dissension between our fathers and our due respect for them, we were obliged to give up each other, so my first and childhood love affair, met with disappointment. This incident in my life seems a fiction nowadays, as the modern young people will not sacrifice their life long happiness for the sake of their parents. After this separation I was depressed and broken hearted but I tried my utmost and keep it to myself.
Thus years passed by as such until during 1904 I received an invitation from relatives and friends in the United States of America to visit the World’s Fair of St Louis Mo. U.S.A. I was greatly encouraged by this invitation for the following reasons:- First to forget my grief and sorrow, and second to see the new world and to study the Western civilization.
With the permission of my father and my grandmother the widow of Baha’u’llah I left Palestine for Egypt and from there boarded a steamer for Marseilles, France, arriving (at) in Paris July 12th of the same year. On July 14th the people of France celebrated their Independence day. It was a great experience for me to go from Acre, Palestine to Paris and to attend such a jubilant Celebration. The following day I secured a passage with the American line on the Steamship ‘New York’ arriving at the Port of New York the last week of July.
After two days rest in the great city of New York I went to St. Louis Mo. I spent the summer months there, observing the wonders of the Exposition, which were a great schooling for me. During the same summer I made a visit to the Bahai friends in Chicago Ill. and Kenosha Wis. accompanied by Dr Ibrahim Khayru’llah. Notices of my arrival to the United States appeared in numerous daily Newspapers and Magazines. The first two winters and summers I spent in St. Augustine Fla. and Atlantic city N.J. While I was in New York I visited the Syrian Coloney in Brooklyn. During my stay there I had the pleasure of the visit of Mr. Howard McNutt, and on my return visit to him I met Mrs. McNutt also. We had a sociable visit, but later on I was informed that the aforesaid Mr. McNutt was reprimanded by the Baha’i higher authorities for his association with me.
During my residence in the United State I served the Baha’i cause to the best of my ability in my spare time earning my livelihood through commerce. I have had several opportunities to commercialize our teachings but I refrained to do so, as I believe truth should be given gratis. For several years I edited and published The Baha’i Quarterly at my own expense and distributed the same absolutely free of charge.
I traveled extensively in the United States, crossing the continent from Florida to Oregon, Maineto California. I have visited the most prominent Winter and Summer resorts. I have met people from all walks of life, the elites of Fifth Avenue now Park Avenue, to the humbles of the Bouwerie, the snobs of New England to the sociables of new Orleans. I have conversed with Philosophers, Scientists, Politicians, Communists, Theologians, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, and Spiritualists and found some good in all of them, by discarding personal prejudice and revering their view points.
While in Southern California I married a charming American young-Lady of English stock, whose maiden name was Brewster, a descendant of Wm. Brewster who came to America with the Ship ‘Mayflower’. I regret that my second venture in love was unsuccessful also, as I have lost her. Ever since I hesitated in making the third attempt and I presume that I shall leave this world without an issue.
During the winter of 1910-1911 I was visited by Mrs. L. Getsinger and Dr. Ameen Fareed,While they were touring the states as Baha’i Missionaries. The object of their visit was my guidance to the path which both of them believed then to be the right one. However they were unsuccessful in their mission.
During 1912 while my uncle Abdul Baha was visiting the United States by the authority of my father I humbly wrote him a letter and asked him for a conference to settle the existing differences in our cause. I hereby reproduce the copy of the same;

To His Excellency Abbas Effendi Abdul Baha.
Dear sir:
Inasmuch as your views and doctrines in our religion are radically different from those of my father, your younger brother, Mohammed Ali Effendi who was chosen in the ‘Book of My Covenant’ the last Will of Baha’u’llah, to occupy after you the same position you occupy now:
And inasmuch as this difference between both of you spreads among the followers of Baha’u’llah and divided them into two parties; one following you and believing in your personal teachings, and the other party which joined your brother believing in the teachings of Baha’u’llah only and considering them final as he declared:
And, inasmuch as we were all commanded in the ‘Most Sacred Book’ Kitáb-i-Aqdas, to bring our differences to the utterance of Baha’u’llah, which sufficed the world, whereby they should be settled:
And, inasmuch as our duty is to establish peace at home, among ourselves first, before we preach others to do so:
I hereby beg your Excellency to appoint a conference of peace and spirituality to hold its meetings at the city of Chicago, or some other place, at a certain time, in otder to discuss with the language of love and kindness the differences between the said two parties and settle them in accord with the utterances of Baha’u’llah and His Commandments.
If it please you, said conference would be composed of your Excellency with some learned ones of your followers, myself and Dr. I.G. Khayru’llah, who introduced Baha’ism into America and Christendom with a few of our party.
My father Ghusni Akbar, authorized me to state, that he will accept and sanction whatever your Excellency would establish with me and with his representative Dr. I.G. Khayru’llah.
The official language of said conference shall be the U.S.Language, a neutral interpreter should be hired to translate from the Arabic language all that you would like to say and in the meantime to translate to you all the discussions of the conference. Also to ask the Associated Press to send a reporter to write the minutes of the conference; and to invite three American savants to attend the meetings and acts witnesses and judges.
I suggest the questions and discussions to be the following;
First: Why your Excellency concealed a part of the ‘Book of My Covenant,’ the will of Baha’u’llah? That will was entrusted to you that you might give all of it to the followers of Baha’u’llah.
Second: Ghusni Akbar was chosen to occupy after you the same position you occupy, and your Excellency claimed that he was cut off and fell. How is it possible that he fell from the said position before having had a chance to occupy it?
Third: What grounds have you to claim that you are the Center of the Covenant? God only is the center of the Covenant.
Forth: Why do you claim to be the Interpreter of the Utterances of Baha’u’llah? He declared in the Book of Wisdom that there is no Interpreter to them save Himself.
Fifth: How could it be that you are the manifestation of servitude and Baha’u’llah declared it to Himself only? Also He taught there are no manifestations after Him until one thousand years passed from His appearance.
Sixth: Why do you claim the great Infallibility calling your letters sacred tablets and revelations? Baha’u’llah said; ‘Whosoever claimeth a mission before the completion of one thousand years from His Manifestation is a lying impostor.
Seventh: Why do you teach that this greatest Manifestation has three chiefs, the Bab, Baha’u’llah and yourself? Baha’u’llah said: “There is no one else beside him in the Kingdom.” Likewise the Bible taught that at the latter days we shall have one shepherd, only one chief and not three. Also Baha’u’llah said: “ He hath no agent, no successor, and no son.”
Eighth: Why do you claim and in the same breath deny that which you claim?
Ninth: Why do you teach and spread the teachings of Baha’u’llah as you were commanded to do, instead of spreading your own?
I close this open letter, appealing to your Excellency by justice, love and unity to grant my request.
Your Humble servant,
The Grandson of Baha’u’llah,
Shua Ullah

I forwarded the above mentioned letter to Abdul Baha to Chicago Ill. where he was visiting but unfortunately I did not receive a reply. When I heard of Abdul Baha’s arrival to California I addressed him the said letter again, this time through the Press as an open letter, a copy of the same appeared in several Newspapers throughout the United States.
A reporter from the Los Angeles Examiner interviewed Abdul Baha and the following reply appeared in the said Newspaper; October 20, 1912. “Would you listen to the talk of the drunkard in the street?”
“Do you class your nephew as one no better than a drunkard?” he was asked.
“Worse” he benignly replied.”
Indeed I was very surprised by his unkind and ultimately statement, and to this day I am in doubt of its authenticity.
During 1912 while my uncle Abdul Baha was in Chicago, Mr M.H.Dreyfus of Paris (France) unexpectedly called on me with a fighting spirit; most of his conversation was appertaining to the unfounded accusations towards my father regarding (to) the petition to the Ottoman government and the arrival of the investigators etc. I patiently listened to him until he was exhausted, then I said: “ All your statements are hearsay and absolutely without foundation. I am ready to go with you to Palestine for the sole purpose of investigation there in the governrate or to go to Velayat at Berut, or to go to the headquarters of the Ottoman Government in Constantinople if necessary, and if we find a petition presented to the government by my father or any of his followers as you have stated, then all what you said is correct, but I am positive that we will not find even a complain whatsoever, from my father or any of his followers against His Excellency Abdul Baha.”
The said Mr. Dreyfus remained with me until late that evening and somehow he was satisfied with my explanations as he left me.
One year later on a Sunday afternoon I answered the door-bell and to my surprise I saw Mr Dreyfus standing. After exchanging the greetings and resting I discovered that he was in California with Mrs. Dreyfus the former Miss Laura Clifford Barney of Washington D.C. and her mother, on their way to the Far East. On this visit our conversations were more sociable and mostly incidentals. He remained with me all afternoon returning to his hotel in Los Angeles in the evening. Two days later I went to Los Angeles returning my friends call, and I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Dreyfus and her mother. During this meeting the existing dissension between my uncle and my father were discussed but very mildly, and we arranged that they shall go to the Far East; and the following winter during 1914 we shall all meet in Palestine and try to bring unity among the two brothers and their followers, but I regret that the following year the war was declared in Europe and we could not make our pilgrimage as we planned.
During 1923 I made a visit to the Holy Land. This journey lasted six months; also I visited Egypt. I regret that I found the true Baha’i spirit that was in existence in the past had been diminished, and the off-springs of those noble soles that sacrificed their lives for the spread of Truth were entangled in the cobwebs of earthly possessions; eagerly seeking false leadership for the accumulation of the riches; originating new names and tittles for the control of leadership and the collection of dues which were provided for the widows and orphans; their ears deaf to the words of God, and following the golden calf as they did in the time of Moses; intoxicated by false promises and drowned in the sea of superstition; their hearts filled with hatred towards those whose only faults were the confession to the Oneness and Singleness of God.
During my last sojourn in the City of New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Luis Styvesent Chanler and her coworker Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, while I was attending a reception which was arranged by the natives of India, in honour of the well known Moslem leader Moulana Shoukat Ali. I was invited by the aforesaid lady to attend the meetings of the New History society. Complying with her kind request I attended a few of the Baha’i gatherings, and I had the pleasure of meeting the Hon. Luis StyvesentChanler also.
During 1933 I left New York for California again, and the mild climate of the Golden State lured me to remain there.
In the summer of 1936 I received news from home that my beloved father was ill and demanded my presence, therefore I left California and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
I hereby invite my readers to enjoy the minutes of that journey with me.
“Our pilgrimage began from San Diego California, U.S.A. at 10 A.M. on Sunday, October the 25th, 1936. We journeyed in two motors cars with our luggage via the coast highway, arriving at the Terminal Island port of Los Angeles at 1:30 in the afternoon. After placing our luggage in our staterooms with the Panama Pacific Liner, S.S. Pennsylvania, a thirty three thousand-ton steamer, we left the Terminal Island for Ocean Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, and visited a delightful couple there, where we spent a few hours. Then we motored to Hollywood to the abode of other beloved friends, a newly and happily wedded couple, where we enjoyed their kind hospitality of a royal farewell dinner. At ten o’clock in the evening we motored to the pier, some of the friends joining to wish us farewell and unanimously desirous to accompany us on our pilgrimage. Being late we insisted on their departure, so the friends left us with the wonderful wish ‘Bon Voyage.’ No need to state our mutual feelings when the parting time arrived, all I can say is: “May God bless them and keep the safe for me.” We are at the deck of the liner watching the multitude of humanity ebb and flow like the waves of the sea.
A short time before the departing hour we suddenly become cognizant of the presence of some other friends, who motored 150 miles to see us and faithfully remained at the pier until our steamer sailed and we disappeared in the darkness of the night.
Although we are surrounded with joy being on the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, yet the parting with our friends and beloved ones is trying, and, I must confess that there is an emptiness in my heart while we are sailing and gradually the illuminated lights of the great City are getting dimmer and dimmer.
The last two days passed pleasantly in good weather and smooth sailing. To day we are passing through the gulf streams of Lower California, it is a little rough and unpleasant for these who are not good sailors. October the 29th, we reached a sea port in Old Mexico, a quaint little place called Acapulco. The liner anchored, and through the courtesy of the Panama-Pacific company we landed and spent a few hours here. The town is unusual, the roads are rough, narrow and uneven. The buildings are un-unified and the street venders are visible everywhere. Women and children go around in their bare feet carrying provisions on their heads to their homes. Senoritas of the better classes are going to the market in pajamas. Men are enjoying their siesta on street benches and on the sands of the sea shore. Everyone is carefree enjoying the tropical climate. A town far behind the present progressive age. The only modern objects we observed were American-made motor cars of the latest models, and the reason for their popularity, as explained to us, is the existence of a fine paved highway completed recently between here and Mexico City, the capital of the Mexican Republic. Therefore many visitors motor to this place on week-ends. There is a nice hotel and some cottages on the top of the hill for the convenience of the tourists. Indeed, there is some contrast between this place and California in architecture and customs, their life and habits are amusing, although in a very humble circumstances, they are happy and contented. We enjoyed a drink of fresh cocoa-nut juice which was served in its original shell; the natives boasted graciously of this delightful drink. The scenery is marvelous, the hills are covered with green vegetation. A thought sparked in my mind ; how anxious an American real estate developer would be to hold and operate such a land and what a sea-side resort this spot would make, if some hotel association could secure and improve it.
Acapulco was a great seaport and enjoyed commercial progress during the 16th, 17th and 18th, centuries, while Mexico was under the dominion of Spain. Being the only Mexican sea port to the Philippines and Asia, the Manila galleys anchored here bringing rich wares from Asia and in return loading spices, rice, etc., from India; their cargo being carried on the back of the caravan of burros to and from Vera Cruz, the Mexican sea port of the Atlantic Ocean where the Spanish galleys carried them to the Fatherland.
Three more days on the ocean, we passed the shores of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Tropical weather and pleasant sailing, lots of sports on deck, congenial passengers, officers and crew very thoughtful, good service, fine food and all on board happy.
Monday November 2nd, we reached Panama and balboa. We took an interesting sight-seeing tour, passing through a section of Balboa, the American spotless town which is the seat of the Panama Canal Administration. Thence to Port Amador, a United States Military Port at the entrance of the Canal, through Balboa Heights and Ancon, residential quarters for Canal employees, the American hospital grounds, BellaVista, the modern residential section of Panama. The statute of Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean.Club Miramar, the race course, the golf club and the old Panama, the ruins of the Cathedral and the site of the city which was destroyed by fire in the year 1671. Our guide suggested strolling in the shopping district of Panama City if we desired and unfortunately we followed his advice. The narrow and winding streets were full of shops of all sizes, owned and run mostly by the natives of East India and China, overstocked with luxurious and inferior merchandise from East India, Japan and China. All displaying the same line, hungry for business, pulling the visitors into the shops and trying their utmost to part them from their cash.
November the 3rd, we passed through the great engineering enterprise, the Panama Canal. It took eight hours to go through this wonderful monument representing the mighty power of human mind which linked the great oceans together, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Our steamer docked at Christabal, we strolled for a while, the city is calm and quiet. Being the Panama Independence Day, all the business concerns were closed, by mutual agreement, American Independence Day and this day are observed by all in the Canal Zone.
Two days at Caribbean Sea, pleasant weather, the passengers on the deck enjoying sun baths and the tropical climate. The morning of November 6th found us at the Island of Cuba and the historical city of Havana. Upon disembarking we engaged the services of a guide and a motor car and proceeded to the Plaza de Armes, the ancient Central Square. Here are the palaces of the old Spanish Governor Generals, the little Temple (El Templete) marking the spot where the first mass was said in Cuba, and the oldest fort in the Western Hemisphere, La Fuerza. Nearby we saw the Cathedral, were rested the ashes of Columbus from the year 1791 to 1898, when they were removed to Spain. The drive continued to the President’s Palace, the tobacco factory-the home of the Havana cigars, the Prado, world-famous Avenue with a fine view of Morro Castle from its foot to the Malecon, a sea-side drive extending three miles in a beautiful crescent shape beside the blue gulf of Mexico to Velado, a modern suburb of palatial homes. En route we saw the bronze statue of Maceo, one of Cuba’s liberators, and the tall twin shafts of the Main Memorial. Next we visited the University Heights, and to our surprise, we learned that the University itself has been closed by the order of the Government on account of Soviet propaganda amongst the students. Thence we motored to the cemetery with its many beautiful monuments, Camp Columbia, where the American Army spread its tents in the year 1898, the beautiful tropical gardens with their romantic atmosphere, the country Club with velvety golf links, the yacht club with bathing beach, the Casino with Monte Carlo reputation, then back to the business section of the city. Here we dismissed our guide and car and strolled in the busy streets. We found most of the shops displaying American-made merchandise. While wandering in the picturesque streets near the water front we sought some information from three different Cuban policemen, and to our surprise none of them understood one word of the English language.
Two more days on the ocean, we passed the coasts of Florida and Carolinas, the weather is getting colder as we are approaching the Eastern Coast. November 9th, we reached New York City, and after completing custom-house formalities, we motored through the busy section of the great City, we motored through the busy section of the great City, and passed the Hudson Tunnel to Jersey City Pier of the American Export Lines. Placing our luggage with the representatives of the Company, we returned to New York. While at the Custom house we met some dear friends who extended to us the courtesy of using their car, and through their kindness we motored in the Metropolitan City that afternoon and rested the night at a hotel in the heart of the bright light section of Broadway. I regret that the time allotted to us here is limited and we are unable to visit the numerous friends who reside in this locality.
November 10th, at 4 p.m., we embarked on one of the Four Aces of the American Export lines, S.S.Exochorda, and a while later we sailed. Five days passed on the great Atlantic Ocean, on land is visible, occasionally we pass a steamer. Nice weather, plenty of entertainment, sociable passengers fine food and all on board are thankful.
To-day is November 16th, and we are at the Azores Island, the vessel anchored at Ponta Delgada, the first interlude of this voyage. Here history goes back to the days of the Phoenicians and Moor rovers where later Portuguese navigators laid the foundation for the Island’s Portuguese aristocracy, Ponta Delgada, the harbor city of St. Michael, and the largest island of the group is beautifully decorated with rich vegetation. From the bay the approach is an exciting interoduction to the bewitching landscape that dots the shores of the Mediterranean. In the foreground is an opertatic picture of homes of primrose, yellow, pink and white walls resting in green valleys and perched on summits that pierce the azure sky.
November 19th, we arrived at Gibraltar, the natural fortified rock which the European dictators gaze at with envy and for its possession sigh in vain. The steamer stopped sufficient time to disembark passengers and mail and we bid farewell to the Atlantic Ocean, entering the picturesque Mediterranean. We enjoyed the first day on this alluring sea immensely. November 21st, we docked at the city of Marseilles, the ancient sea port of the French Republic. We spent a very interesting day at this cosmopolitan and commercial city. Occasionally we came in contact with the natives who are known for their extreme politeness. Here we observed people of all walks of life rubbing elbows with one another peacefully with the feeling of utter detachment from worry. We motored in and around the city, visiting the Cathedral of La Majan Abby de ST. Victor, City Hall, Longchamps Palace, the Prado and Notre Dame de La Gard. The day was completed with the boat trip to the famous Chateau d’If, rendered immortal by Dumas in his count of Monte Cristo.
November the 22nd, we passed between the Islands of Corsica and Sardinia, and on November the 23rd, we arrived at the famous city of Naples. There can scarcely be a more interesting port in the world ; not only does it possess romantic beauty in its incomparable bay with its waters of the deepest blue, the stately Vesuvius, but it also has a stirring history which began with the Greek settlers who founded the city and gave it its name, “Neopolis,” Our visit to the beautiful national Museum explained the wonders we saw afterwards in the great excavation of Pompeii. Crossing the Mediterranean we experienced only one unpleasant night on account of disturbed weather; the rest of the voyage passed delightfully.Fine weather, comfortable accommodations and excellent food.Officers and crew extremely courteous and doing their utmost to please the passengers. A floating first-class American hotel with all the home conveniences one desires. Fine group of passengers amongst them His Excellency the Belgain Minister of Iran (Persia) an Arabian Pasha and other notables.
On November the 25th, we enjoyed the delicious farewell dinner, especially the greeting extended to us by the Commander and the crew printed on the last page of the menu touched the heart. Showing my appreciation, I reprint here under the same:- “ Bidding farewell to our Mediterranean passengers. The Commander, officers and crew bid adieu to their passengers, shipmates of the voyage, and extend the heartiest of best wishes and Godspreed.                                                                                                                                                                        S.S.Exochorda, Wenzel Habel, Commander. ”
After a day at sea we approached the dean of seaports, Alexandria, the oldest harbor in the world and the gateway to Egypt. On the island at bay stands the remnant of the Phroah Lighthouse built in the third century. Passing its northern tips we are reminded that it is an even 5000 miles to New York, yet we feel a million miles away and are carried back to the Egyptian splendor. Three hours by railroad from his historical port and we are at Cairo, which is called the queen of the cities of the Islam, crossed by the silver ribbon of the Nile, the eye is lost in the sea of its roofs, domes and minarets. In the modern quarter, the streets are lined with trees and fine buildings, gardens and monuments adorn the squares. In the medieval quarters of the Caliphs, we entered a city of the Arabian nights, with narrow crooked alleys, bazaars, mosques and coffee houses the secret looks of which tell how East is East and West is West. The visit to the cities of the Pyramids, the Sphynx and the Temple of the Sphynx at Giza added a valuable chapter to our book of thoughts. What a glorious heaven this world will be when East and West will become united considering mankind one kindred. The Great Master, Baha’u’llah said; “Ye all leaves of one tree and the drops of one sea.”
Our last night at sea passed with anxiety as we were approaching our goal. Sunday morning, November 29th, we anchored at the ports of Jaffa and Tel-Aviv, the latter being the largest modern city built by the children of Israel since the world war. In a few hours we sailed for our destination, arriving at the port of Haifa at 6 p.m. after thirty five days of travel by water. We humbly thank the almighty for our safe arrival to the Holy Land, where the Manifestations, Prophets and great Messengers appeared; where the wise men saw the Star of Bethlehem, and where the Prince of Peace, the Ever-lasting Father established His Kingdom. The Shrines of the Nations, the fountain head of truth, the land of our dream and boyhood days.
The steamer docked and at our landing I found myself in the arms of my two beloved brothers surrounded with relatives and friends, by whom we have been entertained ever since. Our pilgrimage was completed by a visit to the Sacred Shrine, where we rendered our supplications, remembering our Western friends as well.
A year later my beloved father passed away. The following is the announcement of the departure made by the family to the friends throughout the world.
The Members of the household of Baha’u’llah inform you with the deepest grief and sorrow of the departure of their most beloved and revered Leader,
Ghusni Akbar, the Mightiest Branch, Mohammed Ali Effendi.
Who left this earthly world and departed to the Eternal Realm on the morning of Friday December the Tenth 1937 at Haifa Palestine. The last services were held on the following afternoon and the sacred remains were carried on hands from the house to King’s Way, a distance of one Mile, where the remains were placed on a vehicle and escorted with great honour to Acre, were again carried on hands to the last resting place at Bahjí near the Sacred Shrine.
The procession was proceeded by an escort of unarmed Police Detachment with their Officers, followed by the members of the household, Government officers, Notables and Religious heads. Moslems, Jews, Christians, and Baha’is walked silently side by side in reverence to that great personage who lived the life of a Saint, and who was the most ardent lover of peace and harmony and a real friend of humanity.
Memorial services will be held at Haifa on Tuesday January the 18th 1938. We humbly ask the friends throughout the world to join us in commemoration on that or any other convenient day.
In his memory we shall recite the following supplication revealed by the Supreme Pen of Baha’u’llah for His departed Branch:-
“ O my God, Verily this is a branch who has branched from the firm and lofty tree of Thy Singleness and Oneness. Thou seest him O God gazing unto Thee and holding fast to the rope of Thy Bounty. Therefore keep him in the shadow of Thy Mercy. Thou knoweth O my God, that I desire him, as Thou hast desired him. Therefore assist him with the hosts of earth and heaven, and help O my God whosoever helpeth him, chose whosoever choseth him and assist whosoever cometh to him. Then forsake whosoever denieth him and desireth him not. O my Lord, Thou seest that while inspired my pen moveththo my limbs tremble. I ask Thee by my longing for Thy love and my anxiety to manifest Thy cause to ordain for him and to those who love him, what Thou hast destined for Thy Messengers and the faithful of Thy Divine Inspiration. Verily Thou Art God the All-Powerful.”
The sad news was broadcasted by the Oriental Radio Stations also by the British Broadcasting Corporation, London, England. Messages of condolence reached us from all parts of the world.
Memorial services were held at Haifa, which was well attended. Many Notables delivered Memorial speeches and sermons. Amongst them the Moslem representative Abdullah BeyMokhles. The Christian Leader Bishop Hajjar, who was his personal friend for thirty five years, delivered the most impressive Sermon. His subject was ‘Virtue’. For nearly an hour he spoke on the ‘Excellence of Virtue’, ending each paragraph with this remark “ The departed Soul was invested with all these Virtues”. Wadi Effendi Boustani, the Arabian Philosopher Poet and prominent Advocate, recited his Memorial Poetry.
Likewise the well known Poet known as ‘Abu Salma’ this being his nom de plume.
Among those who could not attend in person was Shaikh Ass’adesh-Shukeiry. A well –known Moslem Religious Leader, who sent in his speech to be read at the Memorial Day.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith

Foreword by Maliha and Negar Bahai (Grand daughters of Baha'u'llah)

We are great-granddaughters of Baha’u’llah. As sisters growing up in Haifa, in a house only a few blocks away from the Baha’i shrines on Mount Carmel, we witnessed the growth of the Baha’i faith firsthand. Our cousin, Shoghi Rabbani, was the recognized leader of the Baha’i community, and our home was filled with artifacts of the early days of the faith, such as original calligraphies of Baha’u’llah’s tablets hanging on the walls.

We grew up surrounded by Baha’ism; we believed in the teachings of our distinguished ancestor — yet we, our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and numerous cousins, were not allowed to be members of the religious organization bearing his name. We were excluded by our own relatives and their followers because of a difference of opinion about the religion. We were invisible Baha’is. Our very existence was unknown to most of the Baha’i world.

This did not deter us from practicing our faith. Our lives reflect the international and interfaith spirit of Baha’u’llah’s teachings. Maliha married a Muslim man from India and has four children. One son lives in Canada, one daughter in England, one son in Germany, and one son still lives in the subcontinent. Negar married an Israeli Jew, whose distinguished career as an economist enabled them to travel all over the world during his life. Today, she lives in the same childhood home in Haifa, where she celebrates the holidays of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with her diverse friends.

Our father, Mousa Bahai, was the head of the land registration office in Haifa, and was president of the Haifa Rotary Club for two years running, during the conflict between the Arabs and Jews in 1947-48. Rotary wanted a neutral person and he accepted. He was called upon often to make peace between the two communities. We lived in the mixed quarter and the Jewish Haganah (defense) office was next door. Now the building is destined to be a “Diamond Hotel” which is fashionable in the German [Templar] Colony, inundated by European tourists.

Our mother, Kamar, was a very beautiful woman and had a feisty and assertive personality. She wrote pamphlets and letters to the newspaper about Baha’ism which you will read in this book. Not only that, she took Shoghi Rabbani to court because he had prohibited her and other family members from visiting Baha’u’llah’s tomb. We are proud to say that our mother won; Shoghi settled the case. Because of her courageous action, the whole family now enjoys the right to pray at the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, which is located next to the house where our grandfathers lived much of their lives. Both of our parents were born in this mansion and were married there. We have pictures to that effect.

We are descended from Baha’u’llah on both sides of our family, because our parents were cousins. Marriage between cousins used to be common in the Middle East. In fact, our great-grandmother Fatimah was Baha’u’llah’s cousin and became his second wife. He lived with her and their children in the mansion of Bahji in his later years and called her Mahd-i-‘Ulya, the honorific title of the mother of the Shah of Persia. Our great-grandmother held a place of high honor in the Baha’i faith in those days, and Baha’u’llah was closely involved in the upbringing of their sons.

Our father was the youngest son of Mohammed Ali, who was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah and Mahd-i-‘Ulya. Our mother was a daughter of Badi Ullah, who was Mohammed Ali’s youngest brother. Both of our grandfathers were therefore half-brothers of Abbas Effendi, who was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah by his first wife.

We remember our elder grandfather, Mohammed Ali, as a quiet and prayerful man, a kind soul who never asked much for himself. Contrary to Middle Eastern tradition, he insisted that he and our grandmother not be given any special treatment or deference when they moved in with our parents in their old age; instead, he urged our parents to continue living their lives exactly as before.

This self-deprecating and generous spirit was characteristic of his personality. He was mild-mannered and avoided conflict. He rejected traditions that placed one human being above another. He studied the scriptures dutifully and was highly skilled in the art of calligraphy, and he created many beautiful inscriptions of the inspired verses revealed by his father whom he loved and served his whole life. We recall him always being down on his knees in prayer and among his artwork of calligraphy that he loved.

Negar remembers that when she was three years old, one day our grandfather Mohammed Ali was visiting and forgot to bring a gift that he had promised to bring on his visit. Negar was so disappointed that she slapped him in the face! But he asked our mother not to rebuke her, as he had not kept his promise. The same day, he wrote a verse of poetry especially for Negar, and in later years she appreciated it and was very flattered. It says in Persian, “From your visage springs the Spring.”

Our grandmother, Laqa’iyya, was Mohammed Ali’s cousin, the daughter of Baha’u’llah’s faithful brother Moussa Kalim. She was given a choice to marry either him or Abbas Effendi, and according to the story she told, she chose our grandfather because of his mild manner and his wish to avoid religious debates.

At that time, the unfortunate conflict between Baha’u’llah’s sons was already brewing. This was before Baha’u’llah passed from this world. The brothers had very different personalities and this undoubtedly contributed to their inability to cooperate with each other after their father’s passing. For years beforehand, the branches of the family were drifting apart and preparing for what seemed like inevitable conflict after the unifying and overwhelming personality of the Great Master, Baha’u’llah, departed from the earth.

Jealousies may have played a significant role in the split between the brothers, because they had different mothers and Baha’u’llah lived with his second wife and second family. The story that has been passed down to us is that the families of Baha’u’llah’s second and third wives were kept at a distance during his funeral, while Abbas Effendi’s family was allowed to approach near to the body of Baha’u’llah. This was according to the Shi’ite custom of primogeniture and the primacy of the first wife, which the supporters of Abbas Effendi emphasized. Mahd-i-‘Ulya and her descendants thus saw their position suddenly downgraded and reversed, compared to the egalitarianism and close proximity to Baha’u’llah they enjoyed while he was alive.

Mohammed Ali had many friends of all faiths. One of his best friends was a Christian bishop. He was skeptical of absolute religious authority and did not want to see old patterns of authoritarian religion reemerge in Baha’ism after Baha’u’llah had given his life to free people from the Shi’ite clergy.

This skepticism and concern for individual freedom comes through in his writings, as you will read in this book, but he did not deny that his elder brother, Abbas Effendi, was the legitimate Baha’i leader. He did, however, believe that the focus of Baha’ism should be on the teachings of Baha’u’llah rather than on the charismatic leadership and opinions of any successor. This belief got him into trouble, because in the time and culture of the early Baha’i community — still heavily influenced by Shi’ite Islam — the eldest son was to be obeyed by the rest of the family, not questioned. As often happens between siblings even today, the older brother wanted more authority and respect, while the younger brothers wanted more freedom.

Our grandfather Mohammed Ali has been portrayed in Baha’i literature as a ruthless man who was obsessed with gaining power for himself and destroying Abbas Effendi. From the perspective of those who knew him personally, this is nothing but a laughable caricature. The man we knew was a gentleman whose religious beliefs were focused not on power or who should wield it, but on living according to the teachings of his father, Baha’u’llah, in his private life — a life of prayer, meditation, and cultivating a moderate lifestyle and a humble and kindly spirit.

The source of the dispute was in Baha’u’llah’s will, which says that he had chosen Abbas Effendi as his first successor and then Mohammed Ali. Our grandfather often mentioned Baha’u’llah’s teaching of the virtue of a gentle tongue and the danger of angry speech. Ironically, he was constantly slandered during his lifetime, and his rights and property were taken from him because it was not in his nature to fight back. He had opportunities to defend himself and his rights, but his devotion to Baha’u’llah’s teachings was so uncompromising and his personality so meek that he preferred to endure the injustices he faced with silence and resignation, rather than bringing the Baha’i name into the law courts. This was out of respect, not weakness — respect for the Baha’i faith that was so instilled in his soul.

Our younger grandfather, Badi Ullah, was more outspoken and less willing to tolerate the injustices he saw in his own life and the lives of others in his family. He was a charismatic and gregarious man and resembled, both in personality and appearance, his eldest brother Abbas Effendi. Late in life, he wrote a long memoir in Persian about his experiences with Baha’u’llah and his elder brothers and how the unfortunate conflict developed between them. It has never yet been translated into English or published, but we hope this will be done in the future. We cannot read it — we could have read it in the modern Persian language, but it was written in classical style, which is difficult. We have been told that our grandfather Badi Ullah tells a story which would be very controversial, even shocking, and an important addition to the historical record. We also have a diary by our grandmother Laqa’iyya which we hope will someday be translated.

To sum up, our grandfathers were strong and devoted believers in the Baha’i teachings — just as we are sure our great-uncle Abbas Effendi was as well — and the noble and progressive principles they inherited from Baha’u’llah were passed down to their children and grandchildren. It is sad that all the brothers could not work together for the advancement of the faith they shared, but we hope this book may help to make a start toward healing the wounds of the past that have hindered the Baha’i faith from understanding its own history and potential.

Within the family of Baha’u’llah, some of the descendants of Abbas Effendi are now on friendly terms with us, after many years of the branches of the family having little or no contact because of the lingering religious dispute. Although they still see things differently from us, and even strongly disagree with much of the content of this book, at least we are able to see each other as fellow Baha’is. We hope that all the Baha’is of the world will be able to follow our example of tolerance and reconciliation. If we can do it, you can do it — it is not necessary that Baha’is must always agree on all points of religion, especially about what happened in the past!

Our uncle Shua Ullah, who was our father’s eldest brother, was deeply in love with Abbas Effendi’s daughter Ruha when they were young. He tells this story in the book, as you will read. They wanted to marry each other, but they had to break their engagement because their fathers would not consent to the marriage. The brothers sadly regarded each other as straying from the true path of Baha’i faith, and therefore they would not allow their children to be married.

Religious and family quarrels kept apart these young lovers, who continued to cherish each other for the rest of their lives even though they married other people. Ruha Shahid kept in touch with Negar until her dying day. Ruha herself was expelled from the Baha’i community by her own nephew, Shoghi Rabbani, along with all her sisters, children, nieces and nephews — ironically, because some of them married descendants of Baha’u’llah’s third wife, who were also supposed to be shunned.

To think that this happened among Baha’is! And to think that it happened not just among any Baha’is, but among the immediate family of Baha’u’llah! We are all only human; that is the lesson of this disgrace. Even the people who were the closest to the founder of our great faith could not find a way to overcome their religious differences and they made their children suffer for it. If our uncle Shua and cousin Ruha had gotten married, perhaps this could have brought together the estranged brothers and they would have somehow resolved their disagreements, and the two sides of Baha’u’llah’s family would have been reunited and reconciled. Generations of damage and heartbreak could have been avoided.

We will never know if such an alternative history would have been possible, but it is appropriate at this stage that we contemplate such things. It is beneficial that wounds that have been covered over and never fully healed be finally exposed to the open air of public discussion among the Baha’is, that they may achieve true healing once and for all. Allowing ourselves to reenvision the past might open a window to a better future for the Baha’is and for the world at large.

The lesson is that love is more powerful than doctrine; that humans should be human first and religious second. As our beloved grandfather Mohammed Ali wrote, but could neither fully realize in his own life nor find fully manifested in the life of his brother Abbas Effendi: “We are all from one root and we are, therefore, members of one universal brotherhood; and between brothers nothing should exist which might contradict equity and concord, and from which differences might arise.”

Let the Baha’i faith finally live up to itself. Let it be true to the animating vision of Baha’u’llah — a vision of universal reconciliation for all the people of the world, putting aside the poisonous divisions of religion, the us-versus-them mentality and exclusivity that infects and debases religious organizations. Let the lessons of the past be the foundation of a better future, both for the Baha’is and for all other faiths. In our elder years, that is our hope and our prayer.

Comment by Maliha Bahai

In the mid 1940s, while attending the American University in Beirut, I helped edit and proofread my uncle Shua Ullah’s manuscript about the history and teachings of the Baha’i faith. He wrote it in English with the hope that it should be read widely by a Western audience. After all these years, I am happy that a publisher in the United States has recognized the value of my uncle’s work, and that the effort he put into writing his book can finally bear fruit.

Further Comments by Negar Bahai

In 2006 I was interviewed by two Israeli filmmakers for a documentary called Baha’is In My Backyard. They wanted to talk with a descendant of Baha’u’llah and they found me, even though Dr. Moshe Sharon, Chair of the Department of Baha’i Studies at Hebrew University, told them that there are no living descendants.

The Baha’i organization prefers that people not know that Baha’u’llah has dozens of descendants living all over the world today. Past leaders of the Baha’i community excommunicated nearly all of Baha’u’llah’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Baha’is have been taught by those leaders to believe that the heresy they call “Covenant-breaking” — challenging the absolute authority of the Baha’i leadership — is passed from generation to generation. What is actually passed on are different facts, different memories, and different points of view that the present Baha’is would prefer not to be known and discussed. Therefore they tell their followers that anyone expelled from the Baha’i community must be shunned by the true believers. So they don’t want to admit that people like me exist. Admitting my existence would be inconvenient for them, because it might cause the Baha’is to ask questions and find out things about the history of their religion that the present leaders don’t want them to know. I think the whole thing is rather childish.

In 2010, I received a letter from a young American named Eric Stetson, who explained that he had seen my interview in that film, found my address in an Israeli phone book, and wanted to correspond with me about my family history and the Baha’i faith. He said that he was a former Baha’i who still had an interest in the religion and agreed with many of its teachings. Seeing my interview had caused him to do some research about my grandfather Mohammed Ali and his beliefs and writings, and he was eager to learn more.

Eric and I have corresponded and talked many times since then. I have found him to be humble, open-minded, and a sincere seeker of truth. For many years I had in my possession a manuscript written by my uncle Shua Ullah and pamphlets and letters by my mother — writings that had never been seen by the public — and Eric offered to edit them and find a publisher who would publish them as a book. I am very pleased that he was successful and this book is now in print. After many years, long after they passed from this world, the members of my family can tell their side of the story of the Baha’i faith, and hopefully their story will be heard by Baha’is and independent religious scholars.

I want to thank Eric Stetson for his efforts in editing the manuscripts I provided him, compiling them into this book, and seeing it through the publication process. I also want to thank the publisher, Vox Humri Media, and its president, Brent Mathieu, for agreeing to print this work and funding the project. I owe a debt of gratitude to the fine souls who made this project possible, and of course to my ancestors who wrote down their memories and thoughts about the Baha’i faith and events that happened in their lives, without which this book never could have existed. In my elder years, I can rest in the satisfaction of knowing that their stories will not go untold, their life’s work was not in vain, and future generations will have the opportunity of learning the lessons of their lives and benefiting from their best ideas.

I am not a member of the organized Baha’i community, but that is not identical to the Baha’i Faith — even though they call it by that name, as if the religion were limited to an organization. The spirit of Baha’u’llah and his faith are present in the heart of every person who is a lover of humanity, who associates with the people of all religions with love and kindness, and respects both the diversity and the oneness of the human race. No excommunication is possible from such a broad and beautiful faith.

I was married for many years to Mordechai “Murad” Emsallem. As an Oriental Jew, he understood the Arab culture and spoke the language fluently. He had a company with his Arab friends during the [British] Mandate. Now, as always, I worship God together with my friends who are Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Sometimes I even invite them to hold meetings in my home, and I hold meetings on the Baha’i holy days and my friends attend. In my heart, my soul, my life, and my very genes, I am Baha’i. So were my grandfathers and all my relatives who believed in the faith of Baha’u’llah and lived accordingly.

I know it is difficult for people to change their minds about things they hold dear, especially when it comes to matters of religion and facts about the mythologized figures who were involved in historical dramas. Most people don’t like to see their heroes revealed as less than perfect and their villains rehabilitated — it would ruin the stories they have become used to. I challenge the Baha’is of the world to read this book with an open mind and an unprejudiced heart, as hard as it may be. Readers may find that the story of their faith is actually richer, greater, and more real in light of the perspectives shared by the authors of this book. We cannot know the truth about the Baha’i faith until we are willing to see the important characters of the Baha’i story as human, not as caricatures — whether that means acknowledging their formerly hidden virtues or their flaws — and hear all of their voices.

Although I don’t know whether the Baha’i faith will ever become what I believe my great-grandfather Baha’u’llah intended it to be, the publication of A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith makes it more likely that it could be reformed and the mistakes of its past be corrected. I trust that future histories will record that at least some of its followers and friends were sincere in the pursuit of truth, justice, and the highest principles and ideals.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The Guardianship of Shoghi Effendi: Losses and Losses

1- Introduction
2- Shoghi Effendi did not shared the contributions with his family members
3- Shoghi Effendi excommunicates every member of his family
4- Shoghi Effendi usurps the custodianship from Mirza Muhammad Ali
5- The Daughter of Mirza Badiullah denied entry into the Tomb
6- The house of Mirza Muhammad Ali usurped by Shoghi Effendi
7- Shoghi Effendi was interested more in novels
8- Shoghi Effendi excommunicates his brother in law (Sayed Ali Nayyar Afnan)

After the deaths of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, bitter quarrels regarding the succession arose among the believers. Fortunately on the death of Abdu'l-Baha no one disputed the succession. This, however, did not indicate that all the followers of Baha'u'llah welcomed the accession of the Guardian, and were ready to obey him. In the early years of the rule of Abdu'l-Baha, most of the members of the family of Baha'u'llah vigorously protested against what they considered unlawful assumption of authority on the family members.
2-  Shoghi Effendi did not shared the contributions with his family members
The honor of being Guardian was not an empty one, for in his Will Abdul-Baha arranged that his grandson should be well provided for financially. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha'u'llah had commanded (1) that believers pay to God a 19% "Purification Tax" on capital funds (gold). This money was to he expended only as Baha'u'llah permitted. The payment of this tax lapsed at the death of Baha'u'llah, for in his Will he stipulated, "God has not decreed for the Branches [Baha's sons] a right in one's property."(2) However, in this matter as well as in others, Abdul-Baha disregarded his father's Will, claimed this tax for himself (in addition to the voluntary offerings of believers), (3) and in his own Will commanded (4) that "a fixed money offering (huququllah, 'the rights of God') to paid to the guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be expended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal." This provision was omitted from the Excerpts from the Will printed in the Baha'i World 1928-1928 .
It is reported on good authority that Shoghi Effendi kept all the income for his plans and purposes, and failed to share it with other members of the family of Ahdu'1-Baha, who kept quiet lest they "make a breach in the Cause of God." (5)
3. -Shoghi Effendi excommunicates every member of his family
It seems that Shoghi Effendi, pleading inability to enter upon the duties of his office forthwith, retired into solitude for several years after his return to Haifa , leaving the management of Baha'i affairs in the hands of the older members of the family of Abdul- Baha. Bahiyya Khanum, the "Supreme Leaf," the daughter of Baha'u'llah" who had remained loyal to her brother, became the "titular head" of the movement, while Munira Khanum, the grandmother of Shoghi Effendi, who had induced her husband to make him the Guardian and successor, was the power behind the throne.
After a time, however, Shoghi Effendi began to realize the extent of the authority vested in him by the Will of Abdul- Baha, (7) came forth from his seclusion, and proceeded to exercise his power as Guardian of the Cause. Acting in accordance with the provisions of the Will, he "took over the reins of the Baha'i Administration, and demanded ready and implicit obedience from the servants of God, in default of which any servant of God was liable to
excommunication or summary expulsion from the faith under some pretence  or pretext. His decisions were absolute and final and his words authorative."(8)
It is not surprising that this policy brought the Guardian into conflict not only with numerous believers but also with the members of his own family, and resulted in their excommunication. The first person to be purged by Shoghi Effendi was his grandmother Munira Khanum, wife of Abdul-Baha, the first lady of the Baha'i realm, to whom the Guardian, to a considerable extent, was indebted for his position. (9)
Later all the members of Abdul-Baha's family, his daughters, his descendants, his sons-in-law, the brothers and sisters of Shoghi Effendi, and last of all his own parents were excommunicated. (10)
Riyadh Rabbani, a younger brother of the Guardian, has stated (11) that he for years had assisted Shoghi Effendi in his work. Then when Shoghi excommunicated his parents he called upon Riyadh to make a choice between him and his parents. Riyadh decided to side with his parents" whereupon he was rejected by his brother. It seems that Shoghi Effendi's family accepted this severe discipline without resistance, for to whom could they appeal far redress?
4- Shoghi Effendi usurps the custodianship from Mirza Muhammad Ali
Several quarrels, however, took place at the center of the Cause, one of which was over the custodianship of the shrine of Baha'u'llah in Akka. While Abdu'l-Baha lived, he in accordance with Muslim law as eldest son had the responsibility for his father's grave. When he died the custodianship should have gone according to law to Baha'u'llah's eldest surviving son Mirza Muhammad Ali. Not' long after his accession to the Guardianship, Shoghi Effendi ordered the caretaker of the shrine to refuse entrance to certain people. Then the keys were taken from the caretaker by someone, and handed to the legal custodian Mirza Muhammad Ali, and neither the American Baha'is who intervened nor the British High Commissioner were able to dispossess Mirza Muhammad Ali of his rights. Shoghi Effendi could not go to court over this, for the Will of his grandfather which appointed him Guardian had not been probated, Finally, Shoghi Effendi approached the British District Commissioner, and he sent his Arab assistant who was on friendly terms with both parties to arrange a settlement out of court. This was done, the keys were turned over to Shoghi Effendi, and Muhammad Ali and his partisans were allowed free access to the tomb of Baha'u'llah, without let or hindrance. (12)
5-The Daughter of Mirza Badiullah denied entry into the Tomb

Many years later in 1952 the daughter of Mirza Badi'u'llah, Mrs. Qamar Bahai, went to Akka accompanied by a friend, and attempted to visit the tomb of her grandfather Baha'u'llah the caretaker employed by Shoghi Effendi was rude to them, and denied them entrance to the shrine. Whereupon Mrs. Bahai brought an action in the Israeli District Court in Haifa against Shoghi Effendi, to show cause why she was denied access to the tomb of her grandfather. She appeared in court in person accompanied by her counsel. Shoghi Effendi did not appear, but was represented by his counsel and two American Baha'is. The President of the Court, in an effort to settle the matter out of court, took Mrs. Bahai into his office and asked her if she would meet Shoghi Effendi for an amicable settlement, and she agreed. But to the great surprise of the President of the Court, the two American Baha'is rejected the proposal. Finally, the matter was referred to the Minister for Religious Affairs in the Israeli Government, who called in the parties separately, and worked out a settlement, whereby free access to the shrine, without let or hindrance, was granted to all members of the family of Baha'u'llah, and to this both parties subscribed. (13)

6 -The house of Mirza Muhammad Ali usurped by Shoghi Effendi

During the lifetime of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha and his family had resided in the town of Akka, while his brothers and their families had lived in the Bahji Palace several miles from Akka near their father. After the death of Baha'u'llah they continued to live there, owning undivided shares in the property, but without the income, which Abdu'l-Baha received, they were unable to keep this large property in good repair. When Shoghi Effendi became the head of the Baha'i Cause, he naturally felt it was important for him to control all the sacred sites. He, therefore, proposed to Mirza Muhammad Ali that he and the others move out of the Palace to nearby buildings, that Shoghi might repair the Palace, and this was done. When they moved out they took with them the household equipment that they had been using, and Shoghi Effendi replaced this. (14) Thus the Palace also became a place of pilgrimage for Baha'is.
7-   Shoghi Effendi was interested more in novels

Simple events and incidents are distorted and misrepresented in the furtherance of private ends and personal ambitions. The cases treated in these pages [of God Passes By] are glaring examples of misrepresentations of historical facts." It was said that. Shoghi Efendi when a student in Beirut was very fond of reading novels, and God Passes By should be considered an historical novel rather than authentic history.
In reading this book one is disappointed to find that the guardian of a Cause which has professed allegiance to peace and love and world-brotherhood and absence of any sort of prejudice should have expressed such bitterness toward many of the members of his own family. He refers(15) to Baha'u'llah's second son Mirza Muhammad Ali as "the Prime Mover of sedition," he speaks of the third and fourth sons as "the vacillating Mirza Ziya'u'llah and the treacherous Mirza Badi'u'llah,"(16) and he calls the sons-in-law of Baha'u'llah "infamous" and "crafty."
8-   Shoghi Effendi excommunicates his brother in law (Sayed Ali Nayyar Afnan)
In his Messages also the Guardian sometimes condemned with great severity those who differed with him. The cable from Shoghi Efendi addressed to the Baha'is of the United States , which was printed in Baha'i News, No. 256, and dated April 15, 1952 , a part of which will be quoted below, is a sample of his style. In this Message the Guardian announced the death in Haifa of Sayyid Ali Nayyir Afnan, a grandson of Baha'u'llah, and husband of Shoghi's eldest sister Ruhangez. It is said that Sayyid Ali "had a charming personality," and associated with, and befriended, men of all walks of life." He expressed himself strongly as being opposed to the Guardian's policy of rejecting anyone who did not fully agree with him, and as result he was himself excommunicated (Azal's Notes, p. 1107) The 300-word cable begins thus:(17)
God's Avenging Wrath
"Inform National Assemblies (that) God's avenging wrath....(has) now struck down....Sayyid Ali Nayer Afnan, pivot (of) Machinations, connecting link. (between) old (and) new Covenant-breakers. "This alone (will) reveal extent (of) havoc wreaked (by) this virus (of) violation- injected, fostered over two decades (in) Abdul Baha's family....(who) was repeatedly denounced by Center (of the) Covenant (as) his chief enemy................... "
1.   Aqdas, pp. 50, 51.
2.   Azal's Notes, p. 316.
3.   Ibid., pp. 50, 51.
4.   Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha, Lancaster , Penna., p. 15.
5.   Azal's Notes, p. 52.
6.   Azal's Notes, p. 46
7.   Baha'i World 1956-1928, Vol. II, p. 85.
8.   Azal's Notes, p. 47.
9.   Ibid., pp. 440-442.
10. Ibid., pp. 53, 98, 340, 441-443, 680. One well acquainted with the Situation has stated that the chief cause of these unhappy family Divisions were "the love of money."
11. Ibid., p. 680.
12. Azals notes., pp.    91, 92, God Passes     By,   p.     356
13. Azal's Notes, pp.     92,   93.
14. Azals notes., pp.   341, 342, God Passes By,   p.     356 .
15. God Passes By, p. 247.

16.  Mirza Badi'u'llah died in Haifa on November 12, 1950 , aged 82.
17.  See Appendix II, #71.

Blog Archive