Chapter 10     Chapter 12

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The Quarrel over the Succession

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The confusion, the reaction, and the spiritual division usually attendant upon a prophet's death were in this case happily averted (! ?). --Holley, a Bahai, "The Modern Social Religon," p. 169.

The last schism and the bitterness to which it gave rise lead me to inquire, where is the compelling and constraining power which they regard as the essential and incontrovertible sign of the divine word as in the text, " Associate with all religions with spirituality and fragrance," when they can show such bitter animosity against those of their own household.--Professor Browne.

Whosoever claimeth a mission before the completion of a full thousand years from this manifestation is a lying impostor; whosoever interpreteth or explaineth this text different from what is obviously revealed, is bereft of the Spirit of God and His mercy.-- "Kitab-ul-Akdas."

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THE claims of Bahais in regard to the conduct of Abdul Baha must be further considered. Mr. Phelps describes him as a man "who proves that self can be utterly forgotten: that all-embracing love can be substituted for egotism: the recorded love of Buddha and Christ may indeed be realized." M. Asad Ullah writes: "He sees the Moslem, the Christian and the Bahai, all with one eye,--he is equally kind to all." Mr. Sprague affirms: "Abdul Baha manifests universal love in every word and act." Mr. Chase says: "Bahaism does bring men into loving unity with each other." Abdul Baha said in his address at Denver, Col., "All other nations . . . inquire as to the character of this love. What love exists among the Bahais! What unity obtains among these Bahais! What agreement there is among these Bahais! All envy it." [1] Again let the light of history shine forth and these claims be justified or refuted by the facts.

      Baha Ullah died at Acca in May, 1892, in his seventy-fifth year. The death of the father was the signal for a bitter quarrel among his sons. The occasion was the succession to the leadership. The

1. S.W., Nov. 4, 1913, p. 230; Phelps, pp. 255, 133.

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cause, no doubt, lay partly in that jealousy which results from a polygamous household. This polygamy was the occasion of misfortune even at the time, for the Persian consul at Bagdad, named Mirza Buzurk Khan Kasvini, had desired to wed one of the women and vented his disappointment on the Bahai community by making accusation against them before the Persian and Turkish Governments. [1]

      Baha Ullah had twelve children.. The four sons who grew to manhood received "great swelling" titles. Abbas was entitled "The Greatest (Azam) Branch of God" and regarded as the "return" of Jesus; Mohammed Ali, "The Mightiest (Akbar) Branch of God" and the "return" of Mohammed; Ziah Ullah, "The Purest Branch and as Abraham" (died 1898); Badi Ullah, "The Most Luminous Branch and as Moses." Abbas Effendi was the son of Aseyeh. The other three were sons of Ayesha or Madh Ulya. Abbas Effendi claimed the succession, basing his right and title on the Will of Baha, called the Kitab-il-Ahd and on previous declarations. His right was disputed by the other brothers. I have a manuscript by a lifelong Bahai which gives the following account: "Nine days after the 'ascension' of Baha, Abbas Effendi desired nine of the chief men to come to the house of Mohammed Ali Effendi. He opened the will. It was in Baha's own handwriting and two pages long. The nine men saw it. On the second page, over a part of the writing, Abbas had put a

1. "Trav.'s Narr.," p. 84, note 2.
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blue paper that it might not be read, and he refused to have it read. On the same day, the whole congregation (men) gathered to the palace of Baha. Mirza Majd-i-Din (Abbas sister's son) rose and read the will up to the blue paper. Later the women were called to the Kasr Bahja and the will was again read, but the concealed portion was not made known. It was evident that it was for his own selfish purposes that Abbas concealed it, because the future authority did not pertain to him. From Persia and India many wrote, saying: 'Show the last portion; it is the writing of His Holiness. He refused. To this day it is concealed."

      Abbas assumed authority as the Supreme Ruler of the new dispensation, the Centre of the Covenant, and the Infallible Interpreter of its teachings. His claim is clearly set forth in a Tablet [1] wherein, speaking in the third person, he declares: "All Bahais must obey the Centre of the Covenant and must not deviate one hair's breadth from obedience to Him." "He should be looked upon as authority by all." "Obedience and submission must be shown Him and the face turned to Him completely." He was given such titles as [2] "His Holiness the Master," "Our Lord," "The Centre of the Cause of God," "Dawning Place of the Divine Light," "Dayspring of the Light of the Covenant." Indeed his first Apostles to Persia bore the message, "I am the Manifestation of God. My paps are full of the milk of Godhead. Whosoever will, let him come and suck freely."

1. S. W, July 13, 1912.
2. Abul Fazl's " Bahai Proofs," pp. 109--122.

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      His claims to headship were strenuously opposed by his brothers and some of the nearest disciples. A bitter quarrel began as a consequence and has raged to the present time. Letters were sent by each party to the Persian Bahais, involving them in the quarrel. Mohammed All composed a book, called the "Ityan-i-Dallil," presenting proofs of the invalidity of Abbas claims, from the writings of Baha. They charge [1] Abbas with concealing and annulling Baha's will, perverting his teachings, changing the writings of Baha, publishing expurgated and interpolated editions of them, and attempting to suppress the authorized Bombay editions. Specifically they accuse him of publishing a Lawh-i-Beirut, a Tablet in which Abbas is greatly exalted, and attributing it to Baha, though it is spurious; that he has inserted verses into letters written in the hand of Baha's amanuensis and published them as genuine; has omitted verses from the "Tablet of Command"; made up the "Treasure Tablet" from parts of several others; appropriated to himself Tablets pertaining to Mirza Mohammed Ali; and commanded to destroy all Tablets of Baha. which have not his (Abbas ) seal upon them. [2]

      Per contra the party of Abbas accused his brothers of intemperance and profligacy [3] and of heresy,

1. See "Facts for Behaists."
2. We can well believe that these accusations are true, in view of what we know from Professor Browne of the way Abbas Effendi perverted facts of the history of the Bab and Subh-i-Azal, in the" Traveller's Narrative" of which he was the author (" New Hist," pp. xiv., xxxi.).
3. "Facts for Behaists," pp. 8, 9.

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covenant-breaking and fraud. Mr. Hadad reported M. Mohammed Ali and Badi Ullah as "being profligate and wanton, frequenting wine shops and being spend-thrifts." Mr. Getsinger said he had seen Badi Ullah in the street intoxicated and being helped home by two servants, that he and his brother had taken and pawned the effects of Baha, rugs, hand-bags, etc., and a pearl rosary belonging to Baha which was valued at $10,000 (!) and had squandered the money." Abbas said to Mrs. Grundy, [1] "Mohammed Ali has appropriated many papers and tablets written by the Blessed Perfection (Baha). It is possible for these writings to be altered, as the meanings in Persian are greatly changed by a single dot here and there. Before His Ascension, the Blessed Perfection said to me, 'I have given you all the papers. He put them in two satchels and sent them to me. After His Ascension, Mohammed Ali said, 'You had better give me the two satchels to take care of. He took them away and never returned them." He said that Mohammed Ali deceives, "for the Will was also written by Mohammed Ali's own hand from dictation of the Blessed Perfection. By violating the Covenant (Will) he has become a fallen branch. All the beautiful blossoms upon the Tree of Life were destroyed by Mohammed Ali."

      Abbas proceeded to the use of boycott and anathema. He [2] ordered that no one of the Acca community should send any letters anywhere without first showing them to him, and commanded the

1. "Ten Days in the Light at Acca," p. 63.
2. Persian Manuscript.

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Bahais in Persia not to receive any letters that were not sealed by him, but to send them back to him, and that in writing to Acca they should send their letters open. These restrictions on freedom gave great offense. Abbas also prohibited his followers from associating with his brothers and their followers, strictly ordering them "not to sit, meet, speak or correspond with them, not even to trade or associate with them in any profession." [1] Khadim reports that "once in his own house, Abbas rose up and furiously attacked" his stepmother, who, in return, reviled him and fled from the house, wailing. "At the sacred tomb he used cruelly to treat the brothers and sisters." [2] "On one occasion he repeatedly struck his youngest (half) sister in the presence of her little ones and many believers," scolding her "with a loud voice, uttering many harsh words." [3] On another occasion he "insulted and beat Khadim (Mirza Aga Jan, Baha's amanuensis) at the sacred place" and afterwards "ordered his followers to imprison and cruelly beat him, which they did." [4] He sent adrift Abdul Gaffar Ispahani, called Abdullah, one of the first believers on Baha, in such destitute condition that he died of hunger and was buried in a potter s field at Damascus. [5]

      "Alas! Alas!" exclaims Mirza Aga Jan, "Abbas Effendi has caused his followers to display such vehemence of hatred and rancour, the like of which has never been shown by barbarous nations, and even by

1. "Facts, etc.," p. 45.
2. Ibid., p. 59
3. Ibid., p. 60.
4. Ibid., p. 25
5. Persian Manuscript.

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the most ignorant tribes." [1] Of Abbas, Mrs. Templeton [2] writes: "His pride, alas, is great. . . . He seems to be blinded. . . . With regard to business matters Abbas Effendi has not been just to his brothers, who have suffered a good deal in consequence." [3]

      Abbas Effendi cut off the living of his stepmothers, brothers and their dependents. Baha Ullah and his household had a stipend from the Turkish Government, as Azal and the Babis in Cyprus had, and it was not an ungenerous allowance. [4]

      "The family had an income from the Government, as well as a revenue from three villages."[5] "These funds Abbas Effendi appropriated and with these made his charitable gifts (?) leaving the forty dependents of the younger brothers to live as best they could." [6] This excluding the protesters from their share of the income and offerings embittered the strife, at the same time weakening their ability to propagate their contention. Bitterness and enmity increased; recriminations and accusations inflamed the passions of both sides.

      Mirza Abul Fazi, the philosopher of the movement, gives, as a partisan of Abbas Effendi, an account of these times in his "Bahai Proofs." [7] He describes the "ruinous discords and divisions," "the world

1. "Facts," p. 54.
2. Mrs. Templeton was Mrs. Laurence Oliphant and had resided at Acca and in intimate relations with the family of Baha for ten years.
3. "Facts," pp. 6--7.
4. "Trav.'s Narr.," p. 378.
5. Mrs. Templeton's letter to Doctor Pease in "Facts," p. 9.
6. Mrs. Templeton, p. 9.
7. Pages 116--118.

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consuming flame of jealousy and hatred of the people of error," "the hard hearts of the men of hostility," "the animosity and groundless pride," "the senseless hatred, degradation and shame of the violators of the covenant." He gives the opprobrious title of Nakhazeen to Mohammed Ali's party. He continues, "The evil intrigues, calumnies, false pamphlets and accusations, evil tongues and cursings of the Nakhazeen divided the community and filled it with foul odours." Several outside parties tried to act as mediators and bring about a reconciliation. Among these were the British Consul at Haifa and Mrs. Templeton. The younger brothers agreed to the terms. Abbas Effendi was formally requested to show the Will before impartial witnesses and all were to abide by its word. "This he resolutely refused to do and he must stand condemned for this before all impartial men." [1] After the failure of these efforts at reconciliation, the anger and bitterness waxed hotter. To quote Abul Fazl again: "The Nakhazeen cursed and insulted the visitors to the tomb of the Blessed Perfection," so that there was danger of its desecration. "Consequently Abbas Effendi asked the local (Turkish) Government to supply a guard to accompany and protect" his party. Abbas also went to Tiberias and made complaint to the Government there. [2] As a result of all these conditions, "The people of hostility and violation," says Abul Fazl, "availed themselves of political machinations," in other words, Mohammed

1. Mrs. Templeton.
2. See "Facts, etc.," Khadim's letter.

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Ali's party, "those dwellers in hellfire," [1] appealed to the "fanatical men of those lands," i.e., those same Turkish Authorities. Mohammed Ali formally complained to the Governor of Damascus, Nazim Pasha, sending Mirza Majd-ud- Din as his special messenger. [2] They accused Abbas of retaining their stipends, of confiscating their patrimony, including the father's gold watch which had been donated to Mohammed Ali. Above all, according to the interesting narrative of Abbas sister, Bahiah Khanum, [3] they made accusation that the shrine which was being erected on Mount Carmel "was intended as a fort, in which Abbas and his followers would intrench themselves, defy the Government, and endeavour to gain possession of this part of Syria." To use the words of Abbas, they said that "he had hoisted the banner of independence; upon that he had inscribed 'Ya Baha-ul Abha: that he had summoned all to assemble that he might found a new monarchy." Therefore "an inquisitorial body (a Commission) was appointed by the Government. To them the copartners of my brothers confirmed them (the reports) and added to them." [4] After the report of the Commission and in consequence of these charges and counter-charges of the "Greatest Branch of God" and the "Mightiest Branch of God," a

1. Page 136.
2. "An Epistle to the Bahai World," by M. Badi Ullah, p. 19 and Mr. Howard MacNutt's Interview with Badi Ullah, S. W., July 13, 1912.
3. Phelps " Life," p. 81
4. "Letters to the Friends in Persia," pp. 2--3. Comp. "Tablets of Abdul Baha," Vol. I, pp. 45--47.

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telegram was received from the Sultan to the Governor "issuing a firman, decreeing the original order, by which Baha's family were confined within the walls of Acca." After nine years of quarrelling (nine being the sacred number of Bahais) this order was put in force, 1901 A. D. They were still confined to Acca in 1906 when I visited Haifa. I saw the shrine and the fine residence of Baha at Haifa, just beside the English Mission. It deserves to be emphasized that the cause of the Bahai leaders being restricted to Acca was not religious persecution by Moslems but their own quarrellings.

      So completely had the suspicions of Abdul Hamid s government been aroused by their accusations against each other that the death sentence was feared. Pilgrimages were stopped and terror rested on the followers. [1] Abdul Baha wrote to his American disciples of these conditions in the following hyperbolic words: "Verily, by God, I would not change this prison for the throne nor for all the gardens of the earth. Verily I hope to be suspended in the air, and that my breast may become the target to be pierced by thousands of bullets: or that I may be cast into the bottomless seas or thrown into the wilderness. . . . If I could taste the cup of the great martyrdom, my greatest desire would be fulfilled. This is my utmost aim, the animation of my spirit, the healing of my bosom, the sight of my eyes." But when the establishment of the Constitution in Turkey gave him

1. "Daily Lessons," by Goodall, pp. 27-29 and the "Bahai Movement," pp. 106-108.

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freedom, he was quick to take advantage of it. He went to Egypt and took up his residence there. [1]

      The history I have narrated above refutes these various pretensions of Bahaism, its claims, its "great swelling words" more forcibly than logic or the judgments and opinions of myself and others. The conduct of Abdul Baha and his followers towards the brothers and their followers, as well as that of Bahais to the Azalis, contradicts their fine professions of toleration and love to all religions and all men. Well may we exclaim with Professor Browne: "Where is the restraining power, when they can show such bitter animosity against those of their own household!" The numbers of Bahais living at Acca then was about ninety, [2] and of them thirty or forty were of the opponents of Abbas.

      In Persia, where Bahais number a hundred thousand, a small, but influential minority rejected the authority of Abbas Effendi. These were placed under the ban, anathematized, and ostracized. For example, one of them, Mirza Jalil of Khoi, was driven out of his house, which was destroyed by Shiahs, instigated by new Bahais. Another adherent of Mohammed Ali, Mirza Khalil of Tabriz, was completely ostracized, according to command received from Acca. His daughter, who was married to a new Bahai, was allowed to visit her parents only once a year, though living in the same city, and when she died they did not give them word till six days after

1. "Tablets," Vol. I, pp. 4, 94.
2. Phelps, p. 109.
3. Abul FazI, p. 118.
4. Mrs. Templeton, " Facts, etc.," p. 9.

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the funeral. Another Bahai libelled this man to his employers in hope of injuring him.

      Another result in Persia was the permanent estrangement of a considerable number of Bahais who lapsed into scepticism.

      Abbas Effendi, influenced by the opposition, put a veil over his high claims and instructed his followers to speak of him as simply Abdul Baha, "the Servant of Baha," which is usually translated by them "the servant of God." The protesters replied, "Rather let the title be Abdul-Hawa, 'the servant of air, " i.e., windy and bombastic. But notwithstanding his disavowals Abdul Baha allows himself to be assigned a position both inconsistent with his own words and with the teachings of Baha. Mr. Phelps, his disciple and biographer, says, [1] "Abdul Baha, styled 'Our Lord, 'Our Master, is regarded with a love and a veneration second only, if indeed second, to that which they bestow upon Baha Ullah. He is classed as the third or last of the Divine Messengers of the present Dispensation." The Bab, Baha and Abbas constitute, as it were, the Bahai trinity. Abdul Baha commended and approved for publication an ode written by Thornton Chase in which he is glorified with the following epithets among many others. "O Thou Enlightener of the Spirits of Men! Thou Heart of the World! "Thou Physician of Souls! Thou Prince of Peace! "Thou Right Arm of the Almighty! Thou Lord of the Sabbath of Ages!

1. Page xxxiv.

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"Thou Mystery of God!"

      Another disciple, Mrs. Grundy, [1] writes, "Abdul Baha is the Bazaar of God, where everything humanity needs may be found without money and without price." Mr. Remey (a Bahai) writes, [2] "The Divine Spirit is manifested in Abdul Baha--the Branch. He is the unique channel through which the Power of God is conveyed to each individual believer. He is the intermediary. The spiritual wellbeing of every Bahai depends on his connection with Abdul Baha."

      The outcome of this quarrel in America is told in the following chapter. An interesting sequel is the recantation of Mirza Badi Ullah. Doubtless helped thereto by poverty, he made his submission to Abdul Baha, and published a confession, called "An Epistle to the Bahai World." Concerning it Doctor Pease told me that Badi Ullah is not the author of the whole of that which is published in English under his name. The Epistle says, I Badi Ullah "turn my face to the appointed station, Abdul Baha--May the life of all existent beings be a sacrifice to Him." Against M. Mohammed Ali, with whom he had associated himself for a decade, he makes accusation of untrustworthiness, of purloining the papers and books of Baha and interpolating and falsifying them, of cursing and execrating Abdul Baha through jealousy. He turns on his former supporters and says, "they (the Nakhazeen) have no God save passion, no object save personal interest."

1. Doctor Jessup I "Ten Days at Acca," p. 105.
2 Star, Sept. 8, 1913.
3. Page 28.

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says: [1] "Badi not long ago was threatening to kill Abbas, and assassination is an old fashion of Persian fanatics. . . . He has become reconciled but I would not guarantee that his main object is not to gain his share of the money." Better had Badi stuck to his former plan when he petitioned the Governor of Damascus and the Sultan to be sent as a prisoner to Rhodes. Doubtless then he would have had an independent pension.

1. " Fifty-three Years in Syria," p. 687.

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