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TAGS: Abdul-Baha, Life of (documents); Ahmad Sohrab; Pilgrims notes
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Letters from Abdu'l-Bahá's secretary during His travels to North America, Europe, Egypt, Akka, and Haifa. Includes "The Unpublished Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab During his Sojourn in Palestine With the Centre of the Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá́ ‘Abbás ..."

This document is not public; it is not yet "published"
and does not appear in any index or search engine.

The following notes and scans were provided by Chad Jones and David Merrick, with information also taken from The Master in Egypt: A Compilation (Ahang Rabbani, 2021), 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Edinburgh (Merrick, 2008), and Abdu'l-Bahá in Britain, 1913 (Merrick, 2018). See also 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Egypt (Sohrab, 1929).

Organized and partly transcribed by Violetta Zein (2021). Please email us if you can help transcribe.

The Diary of Ahmad Sohrab:
Diary Letters and Notes

by Ahmad Sohrab

compiled by Violetta Zein
1912-1915 / 2021
temporarily offline (July 25, 2022)
  1. About
  2. Sohrab's own introduction, 1940
  3. The Diary of Ahmad Sohrab, 1912-1915
  4. Excerpts from Sohrab's unpublished diaries and notes, 1914-1915

1. About

  • Ella Goodall Cooper hired a stenographer to record everything that Abdu'l-Bahá uttered during his brief visit to California. The sheer quantity of the recorded material surprised his secretary Ahmad Sohrab, who had, until then, only been concerned with recording the public talks. From that time forward, he resolved to record everything. To accomplish this, he invented a form of Persian shorthand (which nobody has been able to decipher since). Prior to publishing them online here, notes from the post-California travel through the U.S. were not available.

    Also of note, appearing here online for the first time are transcriptions from the Haifa period, which are amazing to read. Abdu'l-Bahá would entertain each evening, telling stories and anecdotes. A very small part of these were actually published as Memorials of the Faithful. [-C.J. 2021]

  • The material you will find below falls into two categories.

    The first document available for download below is Sohrab's own introduction to the eleven-volume planned publication of what he nicknamed "the DMAS" or "The Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab." This 11-volume series covers the current document available on this page, from 5 December 1912 to 24 June 1915 (Volumes I through IX). Volumes X and XI were appendices with various materials. The remainder of his diary, from 25 June 1915 to the end of the war in November 1918, was written in Persian and was to be published separately.

    In the introduction, which is dated October 1940 but found in the file 1914 October 10, Sohrab gives precious details on the Diary. He describes the three main sections of the diary, according to which time period they were written in, details which parts were mailed to the United States (and to whom), and which were kept in the Holy Land, which parts were copied and distributed or published, and lastly, which diaries were kept in English or Persian.

    In this introduction, Sohrab also goes into meticulous details about which sections of the manuscript were lost. He is in fact so meticulous that his bulleted list of missing manuscripts correspond exactly to the only date gaps we have in manuscripts.

    Apart from this valuable introduction, the document also has two other items, an incomplete list of the dates covered by each of the eleven volumes of "the DMAS" and miscellaneous notes form Sohrab about lost manuscript diary volumes.

    Following that is The Diary of Ahmad Sohrab, a daily record centering around the talks, travels, activities and person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá from 5 December 1912 to 29 June 1915. All of these dates are available in manuscript form, except for a small percentage of missing dates, and about one-third are transcribed and available in the single PDF or Word Document of the same name.

    Finally there is a small collection of letters (including a lengthy one to Juliet Thompson), and a longer document which contains excerpts of Ahmad Sohrab's unpublished diaries, which he did not distribute and kept in parallel to his official diary which was distributed to the friends by letters. These excerpts from the unpublished diaries appear to have been edited together in view of publications and appear to span one year during the First World War, but there may be others which we do not yet have. They are undated, though sometimes a fragment of a date appears at the top of a page "October 1914" "March" etc. They seem to be small vignettes from his personal diaries that Ahmad Sohrab felt contained information interesting enough to be published, and these typed manuscripts look like the beginnings of a book Ahmad gave the pithy title of "From the Unpublished Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab During his Sojourn in Palestine With the Centre of the Covenant, 'Abdu'l-Bahá́ 'Abbás, While the Great War was raging All Over The World" (#4c, below).

    Ahmad Sohrab frequently gives titles to these vignettes, for example the first one is "The Story of Esmael, the Persian Jew." Which is not something Ahmad Sohrab ever does in his published Diary, and another distinguishing feature of this manuscript.

    The spreadsheet (#3b, below) shows the breakdown of (1) what has been transcribed and edited/published, (2) transcribed and not edited, and (3) not transcribed and no manuscripts. So far, 53% of the diary we currently have has been transcribed and either edited or not and 38% has simply not been transcribed at all. Only 4% is missing actual manuscripts. [-V.Z., 2021]

  • It should be noted that Sohrab later turned against the Covenant, and his writings after the passing of Abdu'l-Bahá are not recommended for Bahá'ís to read (and most are not online here). In The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh Adib Taherzadeh writes:
    While in America, Ahmad became proficient in English and, when the Master went to the United States, he served Him as interpreter. However, from the beginning, Ahmad showed signs of insincerity and faithlessness. Many a time his behaviour brought deep sorrow to the heart of Abdu'l-Bahá. But he remained with Him throughout the journey, and later when he went to Haifa, he continued to serve Him as a secretary. The Master knew that Ahmad would rebel against the Centre of the Cause after Him and had intimated this to one or two persons who were close to Him.
    Included below is all the material available, in various states of progress. For one-click downloading of the files in the folders, try the plugin DownThemAll. Much remains to be transcribed, and the project can use more editing. Please contact us to help.

    To participate in this project, all you have to do is pick a date to transcribe. To do so, you can download this Excel document, transcription_missing.xlsx, and find the corresponding manuscript or typescript for that date from this folder. Then, type exactly what you see in the manuscript, abiding by Sohrab’s corrections (if he crosses it off, even if it is an entire, legible paragraph, do not include it). Then, email us the Word or text file, which we will include in the next version of the document. [-J.W. 2021]

2. Sohrab's own introduction, October 1940

3. The Diary of Ahmad Sohrab, 1912-1915

4. Excerpts from Sohrab's unpublished diaries and notes, 1914-1915

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