Aqa Husayn Ashchi's narrative
by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice and Ahang Rabbani1996-06
1. Ahang Rabbani's letter to the Universal House of JusticeDearly-loved Friends,
Happy Ridvan to all!
Some months ago, I was blessed by receiving a copy of Aqa Husayn Ashchi's narrative through the kindness of a dear friend in California and been overjoyed to learn more about the sublime life of our divine Beloved and the time of the Master.
This particular manuscript, 149 pages, is in the hand of Jinab-i M.A. Malik-Khusravi and from the description on the opening page was transcribed on 17 Mihr 1346 Sh, intended for Badi` Mansur (a son of Aqa Abdu'r-Rasul Mansur who interviewed Aqa Husayn Ashchi at the Guardian's instruction). It also contains a letter dated 9 July 1925 from the Holy Land addressed to Jinab-i Fadil-i Mazandarani who requested a copy of this narrative.
Richard Hollinger informs me that a letter exists from Emogene Hoagg to Ella Cooper, circa 1926-7, where Hoagg informs Cooper of the Guardian's direction for this narrative to be translated in English by the friends in Iran. According to Hollinger who studied this letter (and other ones between these two believers) in summer of 1982 in San Francisco Bahá'í Archives, Hoagg was at the World Centre at the time of the letter, and Cooper was a long-time friend who had learned about the faith at the same time as Ella (in 1898) and because of their close relationship, Hoagg informed her of a number of things such as Shoghi Effendi's effort to have this particular narrative translated in Iran. It may indeed be possible to document the same through the correspondence of the beloved Guardian on file at the World Centre. I should mention that Hollinger further notes:
"This letter from Hoagg also hints at the possible reason why the translation was never published, namely, that the translators were disheartened working under the direction of Shoghi Effendi because he was such a perfectionist who apparently re-translated everything they did. On the other hand, it does seem apparent that the Guardian intended to publish the Ashchi memoirs at one time and saw merits in doing so."Therefore, as a token of my fidelity to the memory of the beloved Guardian who intended to have this narrative published, may I humbly offer the following thoughts:
Having benefited from this memoir, nevertheless it seems to me that certain of events described therein needs to be placed in their historical perspective to enhance the richness of one's understanding. Fortunately, by now we have such excellent sources of information on the life of the Blessed Perfection as in "God Passes By", "Bahá'u'lláh, the King of Glory" and "Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh" where one can draw superb background information.
Therefore, may I humbly request permission be granted for a translation of this narrative to be prepared coupled with, where needed, adequate annotations (either as footnotes or endnotes) to provide the reader with necessary background information. The translation and notes will, of course, be submitted to the World Centre for review and approval, either incrementally or as a finished project, depending on your wishes.
I understand from the publishers of the Kalimat Press that in 1982 their request to translate and publish this memoir was not approved at the time. However, it seems that a number of factors has changed since then which may now prompt the World Centre to a different decision. At any rate, I was asked to inform you that Kalimat Press is willing and eager to assist with this effort and its ultimate publication, should you consider the project worthy and propitious.
Also, the Canadian Persian Institute for Bahá'í Studies has express an interest in this project (that is, publishing it with annotation in original language) and I'm about to share a copy of the text with them. The Institute will write separately in due time about the Persian publication of this narrative.
Aqa Husayn Ashchi's grandson, Tawfiq Ashchi, has already been very kind with some additional biographical data on his family and some more is forthcoming. These should prove useful in preparing notes on Ashchi himself.
Like everyone else, I'm particularly sensitive to the issue to making sure we publish historical items that tend to enhance the prestige of the Cause and not to inadvertently print narratives of inferior quality or of marginal interest. However, I think in case of Aqa Husayn Ashchi's recollections, even though already utilized extensively by Jinab-i Balyuzi, they will be greatly welcomed and read by the community — indeed they recall very exciting times.
2. Reply of the Universal House of JusticeTranslated from the original Persian by Rabbani
The Department of the Secretariat
Dear spiritual brother, Dr. Ahang Rabbani,
Your letter of 11 April 1996 has been received at the World Centre and its contents carefully studied. In accordance with the instructions of the Universal House of Justice the following points are shared with that spiritual friend:
As you are well aware and have noted it in your own letter, the important information contained in Aqa Husayn-i Ashchi's narrative has been used by Jinab-i Balyuzi in his "Bahá'u'lláh, the King of Glory", and therefore a translation and publication of this history is not presently deemed necessary.
At a future time, God willing, the Bahá'í World Centre will undertake adequate steps towards publication of such writings, and at the appropriate time the extant historical letters and writings of the past believers with addition of notes and supplementary information will be published for the benefit of the friends.
Department of the Secretariat