Monday, 9 September 2013

Abdul Baha





(Edward Browne writes):
I have not been able to fix exactly the date when lbrahim Khayru’llah definitively broke with ‘Abbas Efendi and adhered to the faction of Muhammad Ali, but it was probably soon after his return from 'Akka, for which he set out from America in June 1898, and certainly before November, 1900, when he was reproached and threatened for his apostasy by Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan, as described in the following remarkable statement which is initialed by lbrahim Khayru’llah and was forwarded to me by him, together with other documents in a. letter written from Chicago on February 26, 1901

"Statements of the words of Mirza Hasan Khurasani to me  on November 30th, 1900.
"'I came here especially to bring you back to your allegiance to 'Abbas Efendi and am prepared to stay ten years if necessary. If you return lo 'Abbas Efendi, I will cause the American believers to follow you as head in ever thing even better than heretofore. If you will not listen to me and become a follower of 'Abbas, your abode will be in the bowels of the earth. I come here because of pity to you, and to save you. If you will not listen, your life will be short. If Abbas Efendi should give me the word to cut you to pieces, or to tear your eyes out, or to kill you, I will do so at once. I fear not the consequences to myself. You know that I am from Khurasan and that the sword of Khurasan is so powerful that if a blow is struck with it, it will cut from above the stars to the depth of the earth and will cut even the fishes of the sea.'
"He then repeated to me the fate of Mirza Yahya of Jedda, and offered me a copy of the pamphlet published by himself entitled 'the Great Miracle of 'Abbas Efendi.' The above is the substance of what he said to me on Friday November 30, 1900.

" On Saturday, December 1st, 1900, Mirza Hasan-I-Khurasani again called in the company of Mirza Asadu'llah and their interpreter Mirza Husayn [Ruhi]. We all discussed the difference of faith for about eight hours in the presence of my son-in-law Amir Hani Shihab and his wife Mrs. Shihab .(my daughter). also my daughter Labiba and my son George Khayru’llah M.D.
During this discussion Mirza Hasan-i-Khurasani mentioned to those present that the day before, while talking to me alone, he had plainly told me the consequences of not acceding to their wishes. Upon this I repeated to all present the threatening words he had uttered the day before and he acknowledged before all that he had said the words above reported by me.

"One of the followers of 'Abbas Efendi named Mirza Mansur, who is now in India, was therefore commanded by his master to proceed at once to Jedda and there conspire with the Hajji above mentioned for the destruction of .Mirza Yahya. At that time the said Hajji was also at 'Akka, But whether the plot was concocted there or at Jedda I am unable to say. To be brief, one night Mirza Mansur succeeded in administering to Mirza Yahya a poison which killed him at once. The subtlety of this plot lay in the perpetration of this horrid deed in such a city as Jedda*.
"Before the conspiracy had accomplished its purpose, Abbas Efendi had written from 'Akka to one of his friends informing him that some such calamity would befall Mirza Yahya and that he would be punished, Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan published in Cairo a pamphlet concerning this even and the .'Great miracle' wrought herein by 'Abbas Efendi. It is unnecessary to send you this lengthy pamphlet, our object being merely to make known to you the character of these peoples' intrigues. You must employ every needful precaution, for, should they be unsuccessful or disappointed in inducing you to return to their party, they will endeavor by every means and without scruple' to injure you. Concerning what befell Mirza Yahya we have heard from certain persons who were at Jedda at the time that as he had no heirs, and as his father-in-law, .the said Hajji was of 'Abbas Efendi's party and was also Persian Vice-Consul at Jedda, no one appeared to demand an enquiry into the causes of his death.

I therefore entreat you carefully to avoid taking from the hands of these people any food, drink, or other thing, although we know that the Lord (Glory be to Him) is the protector and Sustainer, and will without doubt protect His ends and shelter those love Him, especially him who displayed the greatest energy, and has fought so faithfully in preaching to the people the Manifestation of His Most Great Name al-Abha.
"Mirza Abu'l-Fazl [of Gulpayagan] and Hajji Mirza Hasan [of Khurasan] and the others, while they were here recently, did not visit any of the Unitarians, neither the Blessed branches (Aghsan)** nor the others They neither wrote nor spoke to them concerning the differences of faith, and some of them used even to avert their faces from them if they happened to pass each other in the street."

* Where the crime would easily pass unnoticed as, in fact, was the case
** i.e. 'Abbas Efendi's three younger half-brothers, Muhammad Ali, Badi’ullah and Ziya’ullah.

The translation of the last of Mahmud’s letters, of which the Arabic text was communicated to me, is as follows:

" I inform you also of an event which happened in these days, which is that Husayn the Confectioner (Shakarji), who has a shop opposite to the Government House at Hayfa, as you will remember, died of poison on the eve of Saturday, the 28th of Ramazan' (1) in the house of His Holiness the Most Mighty Branch'(2). He was seen by the municipal doctor who reported that he died of poison. This is as much as we have heard hitherto should we obtain more detailed information, we will, please God, communicate it to you.
" He who prays for you, Mahmud.—January 30th,1901. It is my good fortune to possess a copy of Hajji Mirza Hasan-i-Khurasani’s pamphlet above mentioned, which was sent to me on March 12, 1901, by lbrahim Khayru'llah . It contains only 27 pages measuring 5 ½ by 3 ½ inches, is entitled Risala-I-Bushra wa Aya-I-Kubra ("the Tract of Good Tidings and the Most Great Sign"), was printed at the Hindiyya Press in Egypt, and was completed on Rajab 9, 1316 (November 23, 1898). My copy is signed and sealed on the last page by the author, so that there is no doubt in its authenticity. It opens with a brief doxology, in which Abbas Efendi .is spoken of as "the Lord of the World and Goal of the peoples, the most Noble mystery of God' (3), the Most Mighty Branch of God and His Enduring Proof in the World" designated to succeed himself by Baha'ullah since "God, great is His glory, arrived in the luminous city of Akka." Texts from Kitab-I-Aqdas and from from Baha's Testament are cited in proof o this assertion, and the action of those who " broke the Covenant" (i.e. who sided with 'Abbas Efendi's half-brother, Muhammad 'Ali) is deplored and denounced. "Our object at present," continues the author," is not, however to. discuss these matters, which are not hidden or concealed from any one, but to gladden the Friends of God with good tidings of a wonderful event which happened in the city of Jedda, and of a clear sign and evident miracle from the writings of the holy pen of His Holiness 'Abdul Baha...(May the Life of the Worlds sacrifice to the dust of his footsteps'!)." After this brief introduction, the author proceeds to describe as follows the life and death of Mirza Yahya of lsfahan and the words of Abbas Efendi wherein that death was foreshadowed.
"'This Mirza. Yahya was originally an Azali, but in the year of. Baha'u'llah's "Ascension '' (i.e. death), 1892, he came to Akka, met 'Abbas Efendi, by whom he was very well received and wrote a refutation of Subh-i-Azal. After a while he departed to Jedda (the port of Mecca on the Red Sea), where he became intimate with a well known Baha’I named Hajji Mirza Husayn of Lar), whose daughter he presently asked and received in marriage. When the dispute between 'Abbas Efendi and his half'-brother Muhammad 'Ali became acute, and the Baha'i community was rent asunder by this schism, Mirza Yahya became the trusted agent and fervent supporter of Muhammad 'Ali, in whose favour he carried on an active; propaganda. It is a curious fact, observed the author, that the: Covenant breakers (Naqizin) become the devoted admirers and faithful friends of every atheist, Azali and Sophist, and of such as deny God's Holy Law and disobey His command, and are the kind friends and congenial intimates of every party except the true believers -.--, so that the truth of the tradition, ' Infidelity constitutes a single church4" might become apparent and manifest." So Yahya. grew ever bolder in his opposition to 'Abbas Efendi, the Great Mystery of God and the Branch derive from the" Ancient Stock," until God's patience was exhausted and His Anger moved to destroy the offender, and a tablet was send by Abbas Efendi to Hajji Mulla Husayn of Lar, of which a copy was forwarded to the author enclosed in a letter dated 2nd of Jumada 1, 1316, (September 1898).

(1.) Al Ghusnul-Azam, i.e. 'Abbas Efendi 'Abdul Baha
(2.) The year of the Hijras not mentioned, but Jan. 19, 1901, appears to be the date indicated
(3.) Siru’llah, one of the titles often given to Abbas Efendi
(4.) i.e all believers have a natural sympathy for one another, and form, as it were, a coherent community.


This tablet," which Hajji Mirza Husayn read aloud at the time of its arrival to a circle of fellow believers in Cairo, is of considerable length and partly Arabic. The prophetic threats are contained in the later Persian portion, of which a translation is here appended "
"……… what answer, O shameful Yahya, wilt thou give? If thou woulds not render help why scorn? If thou wouldst not be the slave, why be the sore.'? Was not the Kitab-I-Aqdas revealed thirty years ago? Did I not summon all to obey the derived branch? Did I not direct all to submission, calling him the expositor of perspicuous book? Did I not awaken most of the Friends, and did not dissociate him before all from what is beneath him? Did I not engage his Covenant and Compact in the writing of the Supreme Pen? Did I not in plain language command all the branches (agshan) and twigs (Afnan) (1) and Kinsmen generally to have regard and look to him? What more could I do? How could I further strengthen the matter? 0 shameful Yahya, how could'st thou deny this clear Light, or how couldst thou sanction so cruel slander against this great designate? What hurt had'st thou suffered at his hands that thou did'st desire for him such abasement or what injury had'st thou experienced from him that thou did'st display such a great hatred?' What answer wilt thou give? At all events, while it is yet time express regret and manifest repentance and remorse, and bare headed in the mountain and the desert cry out that ye he not touched, and pour forth from thine eyes like the Oxus-flood tears and blood, and become the associate of lamentations and remorse, that perchance the breeze of forgiveness may blow, the grossness of thy sin may decrease; the ocean of Mercy may be stirred, and the cloud of pardon may pour forth its rain, so that this filth of Covenant breaking may be removed. For if not, then expect the divine; Vengeance and blackness of face (2) in both worlds. As God liveth, verily humiliation shall flee from thee by reason of its abundance, and loss shall take refuge from thee with the All Merciful, and thou shalt behold thyself in the lowest depth of Hell. For abasement, remorse and disgrace shall be the portion of those who violate the Covenant of the High, the Mighty."
('Abba s 'Abdu'l-Baha)

1. The sons of Baha’ullah are: called Aghsan (sing. Ghusn), and the relatives of Bab Afnan
2. Disgrace


The author, Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan, next quotes the covering letter (or "Tablet") addresses to himself by 'Abbas Efendi, and dated (" contrary to what is Customary") the 2nd of Jumada II, 1316 (September 18, 1898). The latter portion of this runs as follows :

" 0 Friend, you wrote about Yahya, who supposed that 'Abdu'l-Baha was heedless of his evil intentions and intrigues. Therefore a little while ago a letter was written to Jedda, of which a copy is enclosed. Read it, that thou may’st be assured that the clemency of 'Abdu'l-Baha is great and ' patience strong, but that, when the Command comes' speaks and writes and cries, ' This is the Truth, and after the Truth is naught save error. 0 Friend, so proclaim the Covenant that the deaf ears of the [Covenant-breakers may hear, and so shine in the Assembly of Constancy that the blind eyes of the perjured ones may see. And the Glory [Baha] be upon every one who is steadfast in the Covenant of thy Lord the Mighty,"

Not long after the receipt of this letter, which was read aloud to the faithful in Egypt, a letter dated the 27th of Jumada I, 1316 (October 13, 1898) was received from Hajji Mulla Husayn of Lar from Jedda by Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan declaring that " God, mighty is His glory, had removed Yahya, that incorrigible Covenant breaker, and had opened before his face the Door of the fierce threats of the All-Glorious Lord, which are explicitly mentioned in the Two Holy Tablets. The simoom of Divine wrath blew, and the gale of Celestial Anger breathed, and his (Yahya’s) darkened spirit, fulfilled with envy and hatred, descended to the abyss of hell." Here follows Hajji Husayn of Lar’s narrative of what took place, as communicated by him in a letter to Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan.

"Touching the Tablet which was vouchsafed from the Land of Heart’s Desire (1) in truth if anyone should possess the eye of discernment, these same blessed words which were thus fulfilled area very great miracle. But what profits it since the discerning eye is lacking?

"I read the Tablet of Mirza Yahya and he listened. I said : ' Assuredly though sayest in thy heart, "I do not believe in the words thereof.'" He answered, ‘It is even so; I have no sort of belief either in him or his father'. (2) I said, ‘If that which hath issued from the Blessed Pen does not speedily overtake you, it were well that they should shave of my beard. (3) Then he rose up and departed to his own house.

1. Arz-i-Maqsud, i.e. Akka
2. i.e. either in Abbas Efendi or Baha’ullah
3. i.e. subject me to any disgrace

"A few nights later towards the dawn one knocked at the door of my house. Who is it ? ' I cried. Then seeing that it was a maid-servant, I added, ' What wilth thou?' She replied, 'Mirza Yahya is done for.' I at once ran thither. Hajji Muhammad Baqir also was present . I saw that blood was flowing from his (Mirza Yahya’s) throat, and that he was unable to move. By this time it was morning. I at once brought thither an Indian doctor. He examined him and said, ' A blood-vessel in his lung is ruptured. He must lie still for three days and not move, and then he will recover.' He then gave him some medicine. The hemorrhage stopped for two days and his condition improved In spite of this he was not admonished to return to the Truth. After two days there was a second flow of blood from his throat, and he was nearly finished. The doctor came again and gave him medicine, but ultimately it profit him nothing. Twice again he vomited undiluted blood, then surrendered his spirit lo [he Angel of Torment.

" This event was in truth a warning to all beholders, is to say to such as see and read this Tablet. Please God, you have read it in its entirety and found your way to meaning thereof. One individual hath He thus swiftly removed. Assuredly hereafter the Lord will accomplish every promise which He hath uttered. I take refuge with God from the wrath of God ! I seek from the Truth that will aid us to stand firm in His Covenant and Compact. In a little while the Covenant-breakers will be overtaken by calamities such that they shall fee bare-headed to the mountains and deserts, but shall find there no way of escape."

The author, Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan, here observes that never in any previous dispensation was so clear a threat followed by so swift and condign a punishment, or so explicit a prophecy so speedily accomplished For, says he, though God's patience is almost inexhaustible there comes an end to it, especially in the case of such apostates, who sin against the Light, and who do far more harm to the cause than the theologians, jurisconsults and rulers who ignorantly oppose and oppress it. He then quoted another Tablet which was sent to him by 'Abbas Efendi after the death of Mirza Yahya, and which runs thus ;
" Write to Mulla. Husayn of Lar that these were circumstances connected with Yahya. the shameless, to that he wrote a letter to the leading Covenant-breakers, and made use of a very vile expression concerning the Centre of the Covenant' (1) such as none, not ever the lowest, would utter; to wit, an expression which was to the leading Covenant-breakers as a floral festival, a joy, and the cause of boundless delight [causing them lo say] ' Praise be to God because such souls have appeared who dare to belittle ignominiously the Polestar of the Covenant ' Therefore was the threat of vengeance and the imminence of the thunderbolt of destruction thus explicitly given; for assuredly the framer of the Covenant and the protector of the Compact will vindicate the Centre of the Covenant. These are isolated events; with these same outward eyes it will be seen in what abasement and disgrace, and in what calamities, afflictions and chastisements the 'quakers' (2) shall be overwhelmed. Say, 'Wait until God shall .accomplish His purpose, 0 company of Shame., O faction of Rebellion, and ye shall see yourselves in the lowest of Hell-fires ' Upon thee be the Splendour (3) "'
Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan concludes his pamphlet promising further details concerning the schism, the obstinacy of 'Abbas Efendi's half-brothers, the "boldness and discourtesy" of Mirza Aqa Jan, and other Kindred matters, and, as already noted, dates the completion of work the 9th of Rajab, 1316 (November 23, 1898).

One fact which is very clearly brought out by pamphlet is that the detestation in which the followers of Abbas Efendi hold the rival faction of his half-brother Muhammad 'All equals, if it does not exceed that in which the Baha'i’s generally hold the Azalis, and far surpasses the dislike entertained by any of these three parties for the adherents of other creeds which stand entirely outside Babi-Baha’i circle. This phenomenon, however, is not peculiar to Babism. At all events this second schism amongst the Babi community, which began almost immediately after Baha’ullah’s death in 1892 and culminated (as will be subsequently explained in fuller detail) in 1895, was singularly fierce and bitter, and in due course naturally extended to the American Baha'i’s. lbrahim Khayrullah’s; secession from 'Abbas Efendi seems to have begun soon after his return from 'Akka (about the end of 1898), and, as we have seen, at the: end of November, 1900, the fanatical Hajji Mirza Hasan (the author of the pamphlet just analyzed) was threatening him in Chicago for his apostasy. The great, majority of the American Baha’i's adhered to the party of 'Abbas Efendi, who had established there as elsewhere great personal ascendancy which his half-brother Muhammad 'Ali completely failed to rival, though one at least of his adherents, Mirza Ghulamu'llah, the son of Mirza Muhammad Jawad of Qazwin, author of the life of Baha’ullah translated in the first section of this volume visited America to promote his Master's interests and press his claims. (4)

1. i.e. Abbas Efendi ‘Abdul Baha
2. This is the literal meaning of Mutazalzilin, a term here used as equivalent to Naqizin,
3. Alayka’l Baha, the Baha’I equivalent of the Muslim alayka’s-salam!
4. He was in New York in March 1901, and in Chicago in the following month, and visited me in
Cambridge on his way to America

Enclosed with this were translations of two letters and the original Arabic of a third written from 'Akka by one ' Mahmud, a partisan of Muhammad 'Ali, to lbrahim Khayru’llah. The first two both seem to have been written at Akka on October 20, 1900, and received a month later by Khayru'llah at Chicago. The shorter one is as follows:
' Lately, in this present week', three American ladies and a gentleman arrived by the regular steamer via Beyrout, and are stopping at the Kraft, a German hotel at Haifa. Up to the present time they have not spoken to any of the Unitarians*, because they are prevented in the ways you know."
The longer letter, of which I have somewhat emended 'the style (which is clumsy and loaded with parentheses) runs as follows "HE IS AL-BAHIYYU’L-ABHA, GREAT IS HIS SPLENDOUR.!
[.Here follow the usual compliments, etc.]
"I have already informed you that some of the followers of 'Abbas Efendi, our opponents, have left here for America. One of them is Mirza Asadu'llah of lsfahan, of whose cunning and shrewdness of intrigue you cannot fail to be aware, and who Is the brother-in-law and secretary of 'Abbas Efendi, and in all matters his most trusted and confidential agent, To no one else does 'Abbas reveal his hidden secrets, and confidential agent. these people are of the most unscrupulous, and will hesitate at nothing and fear no consequences, being resolved to accomplish their purpose and spread abroad their vicious principle even by the shedding of blood and the destruction of lives by hidden methods and secret intrigues. This obliges me to explain to you a certain cruel deed which they accomplished not long since. It is one of their many deeds which inspire detestation and break the heart with horror.
"Now therefore I say that there was in the port of Jedda a certain man of the Unitarians named Mirza Yahya, who was the son-in-law of one Hajji Mirza Husayn of Lar, the Persian Vice-Consul at Jedda, and a merchant noted for his wealth .As is well known to you, these people take great and exquisite pains to attract to themselves persons of wealth and influence. When, therefore, they discovered that Mirza Yahya openly confessed his faith, and that he was of the party of the true Unitarians, and was wont discuss with his father-in-law the questions at issue and the difference between the two parties, They were afraid that in the future the words of the son-in-law would influence the father-in-law, to wit the Hajji above mentioned, and will eventually be the cause of depriving them of his money and wealth. They were, moreover, convinced of the impossibility of bringing Mirza Yahya over to their faction.

*This is the name by which the followers of Muhammad Ali call themselves (Muwahhidin), while their opponents call them "Covenant-breakers" (Naqizin).

In 1901, we find lbrahim Khayru'llah defending his position against the American followers of 'Abbas Efendi In two tracts entitled respectively Facts for Baha'ist’s (Chicago, 1901), and The Three Questions (undated, but published subsequently April, 1901). The former is prefaced by the following " Statement of the House of Justice of the Society of Baha’ist’s to all the followers of Baha’ullah":

"The time has come to publish some of the numerous facts which have been obtained through a very careful and strict investigation concerning the differences existing between the eldest son of Baha’ullah (i.e. 'Abbas Efendi, Abdul-Baha) and his younger brothers.

"For the sake of Truth and Justice we urge every believer to read carefully the contents of this pamphlet, and judge for himself which of the: two parties is following the teachings of the Father and obeying His Commandment.

"It is intended gradually to publish the many facts in our possession, and they are open at any time to those who wish to investigate them."
"The Three Questions" answered by Khayru'llah in his second pamphlet are as follows :

(1) ''Why have some followers of Baha’ullah and yourself rejected 'Abbas Efendi, the Greatest Branch, and his teachings ?

(2) "Did you receive the instructions you gave in America from Baha'ullah in person, or from 'Abdul Karim of Cairo, Egypt ?

(3) "Why did you not denounce 'Abbas Efendi upon your return from 'Akka?

From the answer to the second question it appears (p. 23) that 'Abdul-Karim of Tihran by whom Khayru'llah was converted to the Baha'i faith, and who, as we have seen, visited America in the summer 1900, told Khayru'llah, in the presence of some believers,. that if he returned to Abbas Efendi he was right and all he taught was right; but if not he was wrong, and all be taught was wrong. "Besides this," says Khayru'llah, "he promised me plenty of money, and when I refused he renounced me and all that I taught, and prohibited the believers from reading or buying my work Beha’u’llah."
From the answer to the third question We learn that it was not until nearly seven months after Khayru'llah's return to America that he definitely repudiated 'Abbas Efendi and espoused the cause of Muhammad 'Ali and the younger brothers. This event must have taken place in the year 1899.

'Abbas Efendi, as soon as Khayru'llah's defection laws known, seems to have taken vigorous steps to destroy his supremacy and influence in America. 'Abdul-Karim was sent to America for this purpose in 1900. At the At the end of the same year, as we have seen, another ardent partisan of 'Abbas Efendi, to wit Hajji Mirza Hasan of Khurasan was in America, not only remonstrating with, but threatening Khayru'llah. A little later Mirza Asadu’llah , a vehement partisan of 'Abbas Efendi, founded the "House of Spirituality" in Chicago. About the end of 1901 or beginning of 1902 his son, Mirza. Farid Amin, a lad of about twenty, who had graduated with honours in English, succeeded and aided his father as the recognized translator into English of the Baha'i writings in Arabic and Persian.

Early in 1902 we find two more prominent Baha'is both adherents of Abbas Efendi, to wit the learned and indefatigable Mirza Abu'l-Fazl of Gulpayagan (whose propagandist activities were also displayed at 'lshqabad, or Askabad in Russian Turkistan and in Egypt) and the amiable old Hajji Niyaz of Kirman (with whom I was acquainted in Cairo in the early part of 1903) carrying on an active propaganda, in America. The former, unless he paid two visits to America, must have remained there nearly three years, for he sailed thence for 'Akka with nine American pilgrims, including Mr. Howard Mac Nutt (formerly associated with Khayru'llah in the publication of his book Beha’ullah) in December, 1904.

The last news I had of lbrahim Khayru'llah was in a letter from Chicago dated April 4, 1917, in which he wrote: " The Baha'i movement in America became slow and dull since the sad dissension reached the West nineteen years ago [i.e. 1898].
I thought than to call the people to this Great Truth was equivalent to inviting them into a quarrel. But the visit of 'Abbas Efendi 'Abdu'l-Baha to this country, his false teachings. His misrepresentations of Bahai’sm, his dissimulation, and the knowledge that his end is nigh, aroused me to rise helping the work of God, 'declaring the Truth, and refuting the false attacks of theologians and missionaries. Now I am struggling hard to vivify the Cause of God after its having received by the visit of 'Abbas Efendi a death-blow."

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