The Two Stolen Cases of Baha'u'llah's Last Papers

All research or scholarship questions

The Two Stolen Cases of Baha'u'llah's Last Papers

Postby Keyvan » Tue May 31, 2005 4:40 pm

Does anyone know if there has been any sort of ongoing investigation or any leads since as to the whereabouts of the last two cases of papers of Baha'u'llah's that were left for Abdul Baha but stolen by Muhammad Ali?

Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2004 11:59 pm

Postby Dawud » Tue May 31, 2005 7:19 pm

What's your source for this?

Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú

Postby Hasan » Tue May 31, 2005 11:23 pm

Dear lucky Keyvan!

This is a question asked to Ali Nakhjavani: ... &chapter=2

Q. If the two cases stolen by the Covenant-Breakers are found, what will be the situation regarding the possible falsification by them of the Holy Texts?
A. This is of course a decision that will be taken by the Universal House of Justice, if the contents of the cases are recovered. Ruhíyyih Khánum often said that Shoghi Effendi had mentioned more than once that there can be no assurance that the texts of the documents had not been tampered with by the Covenant-Breakers.


Postby Keyvan » Tue May 31, 2005 11:26 pm

Yeah I read that before. Thats why i was wondering if before or since then, any leads had come.

...seems like a Bahai Holy Grail.

wheres indiana jones when you need him

Posts: 97
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2004 11:59 pm

Postby Dawud » Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:14 am

Why do you think Muhammad 'Ali "stole" something? Where is this story coming from?

Assuming that these mss. collections really exist, or once existed, aren't these accusations of thievery a bit extreme--a form of backbiting, really? (Unless one of us has definite knowledge of what occurred.) Given the legal property conflicts between the two men (Abbas and M. 'Ali), doesn't it seem likely that their dispute extended also to these mss.?

M. 'Ali's relatives might conceivably be tracked down (presumably by non-Baha'is, since you are not on speaking terms with them) and asked nicely to loan them out.

Posts: 195
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:03 am
Location: Lima - Perú

Postby Hasan » Wed Jun 01, 2005 8:59 am

Dawud wrote:Why do you think Muhammad 'Ali "stole" something? Where is this story coming from?

When the ascension took place, 'Abdu'l-Bahá's grief knew no bounds. The shock He sustained as a result of this calamitous event was so intense that He found it difficult to describe. He says that in the morning, along with His brother, He began the task of preparing the remains for burial. When they were about to wash Bahá'u'lláh's blessed body, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali suggested to 'Abdu'l-Bahá that since the floor would become wet, it would be better to move the two cases into Badi'u'llah's room. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was at that point in such a state of shock and grief that He was almost unconscious of His surroundings. He never thought that behind this suggestion could be a treacherous plot designed to rob Him of that precious trust.

He agreed, and the two cases were taken out and that was the last He saw of them.

The sacred remains were laid to rest that same day. 'Abdu'l-Bahá was disconsolate and heartbroken. He says that for three consecutive days and nights He could not rest a single moment. He wept for hours and was in a state of unbearable grief. The Light of the World had disappeared from His sight and all around Him had been plunged into darkness. On the fourth night after the ascension, He arose from His bed around midnight and walked a few steps, hoping that it might help to bring a measure of tranquillity to His agonized heart. As He began to pace the room, He saw through the window a scene His eyes could scarcely believe. His unfaithful brothers had opened the cases and were looking through Bahá'u'lláh's papers -- those papers that had been entrusted to Him!

'Abdu'l-Bahá was deeply disturbed by the treachery of His brothers so soon after the ascension of their father. This act of unfaithfulness, committed so dishonourably against the most sacred trust of God, inflicted further pain and suffering upon His sorrow-laden heart. He returned to His bed immediately after this incident, for He did not wish His brothers to know He had seen them interfering with the contents of the cases. At this point 'Abdu'l-Bahá thought that since His brothers had not seen the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh, which was in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's possession, they were trying to find some document among His writings with which to justify their intended action of undermining the foundation of the Cause of God and creating a division within the ranks of its avowed supporters. However, 'Abdu'l-Bahá hoped that when they saw the Will and Testament, their efforts would be frustrated and they would then return His trust to Him.

But alas, this did not happen! The Kitáb-i-'Ahd was read by Aqa Riday-i-Qannad[*] on the ninth day after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh in the presence of nine witnesses chosen from among Bahá'u'lláh's companions and members of His family, including Mirza Muhammad-'Ali On the afternoon of the same day it was read by Majdu'd-Din in the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh before a large company of the friends, consisting of the Aghsan, the Afnan, the pilgrims and resident believers. 'Abdu'l-Bahá says that after the Kitáb-i-'Ahd was read and its contents noted, some rejoiced with exceeding gladness and some grieved with great sorrow. The faces of the faithful were illumined with the light of joy and those of the falsehearted were covered in the dust of despondency and gloom. On that day, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states, the foundations of Covenant-breaking were laid, the ocean of vain imagining began to surge, and the fire of dissension and strife was lit, its flame burning more fiercely with the passage of time and consuming the hearts and souls of the faithful in its tormenting heat.
[* For a brief account of his life see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2.]

Soon after the reading of the Kitáb-i-'Ahd, one of the Afnan asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá to use one of Bahá'u'lláh's seals on a Tablet which had been revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in his honour. When 'Abdu'l-Bahá asked His brothers to give Him the seals which had been placed in the two cases, they pleaded ignorance, saying they did not know anything about the cases! Bewildered and perplexed by such a remark, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was plunged further into sorrow and grief. He describes how His whole being began to tremble when He heard such a response from His brothers and He knew that great tests and trials lay ahead.

(Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 134)

Having observed the ascendancy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the loyalty of the rank and file of the believers to the Covenant, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in the early days of his rebellion embarked upon various dishonourable schemes to undermine 'Abdu'l-Bahá's influence in the community. An account of his stealing two cases containing various Tablets by Bahá'u'lláh which had been entrusted to 'Abdu'l-Bahá has been given in chapter 12. He went through these original Tablets and found certain ones, condemnatory in tone, which referred to Mirza Yahya. He easily removed Mirza Yahya's name and substituted that of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. As the ink used in those days was soluble in water or saliva, it was a usual practice by all scribes to remove part of a written page by licking it and, once it had dried, to write on it again. Being a writer himself, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was accustomed to this practice.

One of the people who informed the Master about Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's interpolation of the writings was Mirza Badi'u'llah, who conveyed the information to 'Abdu'l-Bahá by releasing a document known as the 'Epistle of Repentance'. We have, in chapter 13, referred to Mirza Badi'u'llah's iniquitous activities against the Covenant, when he acted in concert with his older brother, the Centre of Sedition. For some years he continued in this way until early in 1903 when rumours began to circulate that he intended to repent and return to the fold. While the friends who were steadfast in the Covenant were apprehensive that if the rumours were true there might be a fresh plan by the Covenant-breakers to deceive the believers, the news was soon confirmed and Mirza Badi'u'llah announced his repentance for all his activities against the Covenant.

This move proved to be of great material benefit to him because he had lived extravagantly and had spent all his possessions in promoting the cause of Covenant-breaking. When he found himself in financial need and realized that Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's assistance was not forthcoming owing to a rift between the two brothers, Mirza Badi'u'llah took revenge by announcing his decision to leave the band of Covenant-breakers. He repented for his past actions, turned to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and begged for forgiveness. Of course the Master knew that he was not sincere and that his repentance was an expedient measure to satisfy his needs. But with the Master's characteristic loving kindness, he was forgiven.

Arrangements were made for him to make a public statement about this matter. On the appointed day, Mirza Badi'u'llah arrived in the Master's house where all the friends had gathered. He showed the utmost respect to everyone, prostrated himself at the feet of the 174 Master, begged forgiveness and read his 'Epistle of Repentance'. Dr Yunis Khan in his memoirs describes that day as an historic occasion and states that some of the friends endowed with spiritual insight readily recognized Mirza Badi'u'llah's insincerity in that meeting. They knew that his association with the friends would create great problems for the community which certain unfaithful individuals had already infiltrated. Soon their fears were realized.

For some time after this event Mirza Badi'u'llah attended the gatherings of the friends who showed him every courtesy. The Master provided him and his family with a suitable residence in 'Akká and supplied his needs. He would often go to the Master's house and attain His presence. During this period Mrs Lua .Getsinger, an outstanding believer of the West, referred to by Shoghi Effendi as a Disciple of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, was in the Holy Land. Mirza Badi'u'llah asked her to teach him English. Lua very happily agreed, thinking that by coming in contact with him, she would become the recipient of knowledge, spirituality and divine virtues. But very soon, after the first two lessons, she realized her great mistake in this undertaking. She found him devoid of spiritual qualities and knowledge of the Faith and felt the influence of his dishonesty and treacherous nature. Knowing that if he learned English he could poison the minds of the Western believers, she refused to continue teaching him and told him, in no uncertain terms, to abandon the plan altogether.

The 'Epistle of Repentance', which was addressed to the people of Baha, was translated from Persian into English and printed and published in both languages. The original manuscript bears Mirza Badi'u'llah's signature and seal. In this document he reveals, among other things, some of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's ignoble works, including the interpolation of the writings carried out immediately after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. The following is a summary translation of his account of this episode:

During His last illness, Bahá'u'lláh directed 'Abdu'l-Bahá to place
His papers and Tablets in two special large cases... These were
entrusted by Him to 'Abdu'l-Bahá... When the time came to wash
the sacred body of Bahá'u'lláh, they brought water into the room.
Mirza Muhammad-'Ali said to 'Abdu'l-Bahá that since water would
be poured around the room, it would be better to remove the two
cases to another room so that they would not get wet. 'Abdu'l-Bahá
assented and Mirza Muhammad-'Ali asked Majdu'd-Din to move
them to my room. This was done and the cases were placed in a
special cabinet and locked.

Three days after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali
asked me to give him the keys so that he might open the
cases. He said: 'Bahá'u'lláh has placed a certain document in these cases which needs to be studied.' He took the keys from me. The
next thing I noticed was that with the help of Majdu'd-Din, 'Ali
Rida,[*] his sister, and the mother of Shu'a'u'llah the cases were
taken out of the window onto the balcony of the mansion and from
there into the room of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. He took out all the
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh which were addressed to individual believers.
When I protested at his action, he explained, among other
things, that the responsibility of the protection of the holy writings
had been given to him by Bahá'u'lláh and that he had a Tablet to
this effect. However, he did not show me any such Tablet... He
also indicated to me in a subtle way that the Most Great Branch
was against the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and if these holy writings were
to fall into His hands, He would destroy them and would obliterate
the name and every trace of the Blessed Beauty from this world!
[* A son of Aqay-i-Kalim, i.e. Majdu'd-Din's brother.]

(Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 174)

But there was a heart hopelessly stirred by envy. It beat
in the frame of the second surviving son of Bahá'u'lláh,
Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, entitled Ghusn-i-Akbar, the
Greater Branch, the man whose rank and station the Testament of
Bahá'u'lláh had placed next to that of the Centre of
the Covenant Himself. This half-brother of 'Abdu'l-Bahá,
had already committed an act of astounding perfidy. To
this testifies the letter of repentance, short-lived though
that repentance was, of Mirza Badi'u'llah, the fourth surviving son
of Bahá'u'lláh. In that document he stated, in no
uncertain terms, that two cases which belonged to Bahá'u'lláh and
contained His writing materials, seals, and papers
were purloined by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, on the very dawn
of the day that their Father passed away.

'Abdu'l-Bahá has described how Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, by deception, obtained possession of those cases, which had been close to Bahá'u'lláh's bed. When, in that oppressive dawn of May 29th, they were proceeding to wash the body of Bahá'u'lláh and prepare it for interment, he suggested to 'Abdu'l-Bahá to remove the cases to another room, as water might be splashed over them and damage the papers. 'Abdu'l-Bahá had no room in the Mansion of Bahji. He and His family lived in 'Akká. (He resided there to be near the majority of the Bahá'ís, and to be accessible to officialdom.) Therefore Mirza Muhammad-'Ali took charge of the two cases.

A few days later, a Bahá'í who had been honoured with a Tablet from Bahá'u'lláh, on which His seal was not affixed asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá whether he could have that bounty. Bahá'u'lláh's seals were in the cases which Mirza Muhammad-'Ali had, to his delight, obtained. 'Abdu'l-Bahá asked His brother to bring them, but the latter denied any knowledge of their whereabouts, or that he had ever received them.

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's most cherished object had been to lay hands on the Will and Testament which he knew his Father had written. But that document had been entrusted to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Thus his first attempt to subvert the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh proved abortive. But ambition and jealousy drove him on to deeds more wretched, until he ultimately destroyed himself.

In a Tablet addressed to Mirza Muhammad-Baqir Khan a distinguished Bahá'í of Shiraz, 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's deceit:

The centre of violation purloined, in its entirety, the
Divine trust which specifically appertained to this servant
He took everything and returned nothing. To this day
the usurper unjustly remains in possession. Although each
single item is more precious for 'Abdu'l-Bahá than the
dominion of earth and heaven, till now I have kept silent
and have not breathed a word, lest it bring us into
disrepute amongst strangers. This was a severe blow to
me. I suffered, I sorrowed, I wept, but I spoke not.

(H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu'l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 53)

Dawu d

Postby Dawu d » Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:35 pm

Thank you, Hasan. This seems to be Abdul-Baha's side of the story. I suppose M. Ali's faction would tell a different one, and that Baha'is would be forbidden in principle from considering it.

Well, no matter. If you really want to try to hunt these things down (assuming they've been preserved), the obvious place to start would be among M. 'Ali's relatives. Has this been done?Issues of authenticity could be decided in the course of purchasing them, and then argued about after, but if it's just a matter of comparing handwriting and dating ink and paper, I don't see how this would present an insuperable problem. (If the mss. can be located, that is.)


Postby Keyvan » Thu Jun 02, 2005 5:27 pm

Abdul Baha was proclaimed the Center of the Covonant by Baha'u'llah. He is infallible.
His account is correct! heres why,...
Remember the Lesser Covonant. Bahaullah is keeping the unity of the faith even today.
Covonant Breakers were foretold. At no point does one who splits off in self richeousness ever have validity.


Postby Guest » Fri Jun 03, 2005 9:07 pm

Well Keyvan, the issue of covenant breaking needn't be resolved in order to make inquiries about historical mss. (In a better world the different religious sects might even cooperate with one another.) But remember that every time such a division occurred, both sides declared the other to be in violation of the covenant. No one thought their own side was acting out of self-righteous hubris, though perhaps they should have considered the possibility.


Postby Keyvan » Fri Jun 03, 2005 10:11 pm

what youre forgetting is the LESSER COVONANT. since one group succeeds while the other doesnt we are assured that the one which succeeds is true and infallible. it is Bahaullah's doing. a covonant breaker group that claims the one that succeeded are the true covonant breakers will always lose, and it always has.
so many attempts to break the unity of the faith since the faiths inception, all have failed! this is Bahaullah's doing
dont politicise it


Postby Keyvan » Fri Jun 03, 2005 10:28 pm

i dont know if you are a Bahai or not, or your knowledge of our beliefs. the people of Baha were promised unity and infallibility in their administration.
The spirit of Bahaullah is protecting us by dissolving the covonant breaker groups, whomever they may be.
thus whatever fades out is identifiably the covonant breaker. easy.
Abdul Baha is the Center of the Covenant.
He is infallible. If HIS account states certain historical claims, then those claims are true. to question that is to question the infallibility, and to question that is to question the pronouncement of Bahaullah, and to the question that is to question Bahaullah and the faith itself.

Return to “Discussion”