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Abstract:
Treatises of "the greatest and most learned of all Bahá'í scholars" about Alexander Tumansky; on meeting Abdu'l-Baha; and on the meaning of angels, resurrection, civilization, tests, angels, holy spirit, and the saying "Knowledge is twenty-seven letters."
Notes:
Contributed by and posted with permission of publisher. Please support this online re-printing by ordering a copy of the book. A portion of this book scanned, with images, is available at books.google.com.

Letters and Essays, 1886-1913

by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani

translated by Juan Cole.
Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1985
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Letters & Essays, 1886-1913
by
Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl Gulpáygání

translated from the Arabic and Persian and
annotated by Juan R.I. Cole

Kalimát Press
1600 Sawtelle Boulevard, Suite 34
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Copyright © 1985
Kalimát Press
All Rights Reserved

Manufactured in the United States of America

                         Contents

Foreword, by Alessandro Bausani ................................ ix
Editor's Note .................................................. xi

Part I: Iran, 1886-1888
        On the Meaning of Civilization .......................... 3 
	On the Resurrection Day ................................. 7 
	Why Moses Could Not See God ............................ 15 
	Against Blind Obedience ................................ 37

Part II: The Russian Empire, 1892
	A Treatise for Alexander Tumansky ...................... 43

Part III: Palestine, 1894
	On Meeting 'Abdu'l-Bahá ................................ 87

Part IV: Egypt, 1895-1914
	The Bab and the Babi Religion .......................... 95
	A Letter to Tripoli ................................... 111
	On Tests and Trials ................................... 135 
	On Perfection and Imperfection ........................ 139
	On the Reaction in Egypt to His Writings .............. 147 
	On the Meaning of Angels .............................. 155 
	The Reality of the Holy Spirit ........................ 171
	Did Moses Prophesy Muhammad? .......................... 173 
	A Commentary on the Saying "Knowledge Is 27 Letters" .. 181
                         About
Here are collected the letters and scholarly treatises of Mírzá Abú'l Fadl, famed as the greatest and most learned of all Bahá'í scholars. Included are commentaries, essays and correspondence written in Iran, Russia and Egypt over a period of almost thirty years.

The letters written from 1886-1888, in Southwestern Iran, are among the few documents which throw light on Abú'l Fadl's early Bahá'í career. Also available for the first time in English is "A Treatise for Alexander Tumansky," written for the noted orientalist — a major work which provides an invaluable summary of the life of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as unique information on the controversial histories Táríkh-i Jadíd and Naqtatu'l-Káf. There is the courageous defense of the Bahá'í Faith that Abú'l Fadl was able to publish in the Egyptian press, the first article of its kind.

And finally, the letters collected from the last years of his life that show his scholarship at its most profound and most mature. The startling modernity of Abú'l Fadl's thought is as challenging today as it was when first written. This book is required reading for any serious student of the Bahá'í religion. [Kalimat, 1985]


[page ix]

Foreword

It is not easy for me to write a foreword to this book. I remember writing to Juan R. Cole some time ago that I did not think it was yet time to study the Bahá'í Faith historically and scientifically. It seemed as inconceivable to me as suggesting that Christians in the first century A.D. should have written on the Christian religion scientifically. I felt that we, as Bahá'ís, were too close, too interested, too emphatically involved in Bahá'í history to write about it objectively.

The books of Bahá'í scholarship that have been published since that time have convinced me of the contrary. Young Bahá'í scholars, including Dr. Cole himself, have written on Bahá'í subjects as objectively as is possible for them. And I myself in a lecture on the occasion of the celebration of the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh (on November 12, 1983) made use of a concept first put forth by Cole: that of a science of "theophany" needed for an understanding of the Bahá'í Faith, almost as the Christians study their concept of incarnation.

An old friend of mine, Sr. Panella, a Bahá'í of Rome, now unfortunately passed away, used to say that the Bahá'í Faith means primarily: Evoluzione nel tempo, e unita nell'ora [Evolution in time, and unity at the present hour]. Truly, the whole Bahá'í Faith is centered on this theophanical idea. Bearing in mind the Bahá'í principles of the inaccessibility of God and the evolution of the exterior forms of religion, all of the doctrines of the Faith can be encompassed by the


[page x]

phrase "evolution in time." "Unity at the present hour" means that now the urgent aim of the Faith is the unity of mankind, in all its implications.

This book is a translation of certain works written by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl on the history and the transcendent importance of the Bahá'í religion. Abu'l-Fadl is well known to Bahá'ís. He was the greatest Oriental expounder of their religion. Naturally, he approaches the Faith from an Eastern perspective, explaining some of its more esoteric aspects. Nonetheless, this book is of extreme importance for the Bahá'ís. It is a book each Bahá'í should possess and read to obtain a better knowledge of what the Bahá'í Faith really is. Alessandro Bausani Rome


[page xi]

Editor's Note

[Note: the Editor's Note has not been OCRed or proofread. Embedded below is a PDF of these pages.]
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