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from the chronology

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1848. last week
in Jul
Trial of the Báb

The Báb arrived in Tabríz and was brought before a panel of which the 17-year-old Crown Prince Násiri'd-Dín Mírzá was the president. The Báb publicly made His claim that He was the Qá'im. This claim had also been announced to those gathered at Badasht. [B140–7; BBR157; BBRSM23, 216; BW18:380; DB314–20; GPB21–2; TN14]
  • The purpose of the public forum was to force the Báb to recant His views; instead He took control of the hearing and embarrassed the clergy. After considerable argument and discussion, they decided He was devoid of reason. [GPB22; BBRSM216]
  • The Báb was bastinadoed. [B145; BBD44; DB320; GPB22; TN14–15] This is the first formal punishment He received. [BBRSM20]
  • This constituted the formal declaration of His mission. [GPB22]
  • The clergy issued a fatwa or legal pronouncement against the Báb condemning Him to death for heresy, but to no purpose as the civil authorities were unwilling to take action against Him. [BBRSM19–20]
  • See Trial of the Báb: Shi'ite Orthodoxy Confronts its Mirror Image by Denis MacEoin.
  • He was first attended by an Irish physician, Dr William Cormick, to ascertain His sanity and later to treat Him for a blow to the face that occurred during the bastinado. Cormick is the only Westerner to have met and conversed with Him. [B145; BBR74–5, 497–8 DBXXXIL–XXXIII]
  • For an account of the life of Dr. William Cormick see Connections by Brendan McNamara.
  • See the YouTube video The Irish Physician Who Met The Báb.
  • Tabriz; Badasht; Iran Bab, Life of; Bab, Trial of; Nasirid-Din Shah; Qaim; Bastinado; William Cormick; Fatwa; Conference of Badasht; Bab, Basic timeline; - Basic timeline, Expanded Le Journal de Constantinople 1848-1851 (first entry dated June 21 1848)
    1863. 18 Apr Birth of William Henry (Harry) Randall, Disciple of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, in Boston. Boston; Massachusetts; United States William Harry Randall; Disciples of Abdul-Baha; Births and deaths
    1891 (In the year) Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Kitáb-i-`Ahd. [BBD32; CB142; GPB236–40, BKG420–5; RB4:419–20]
  • It was probably written at least one year before His Ascension. CB142]
  • In it Bahá'u'lláh alluded to Epistle to the Son of the Wolf as the `Crimson Book'. [DG16; ESW32; GPB238]
  • In Kitáb-i-`Ahd Bahá'u'lláh explicitly appointed `Abdu'l-Bahá His successor, the Centre of the Covenant and the Expounder of the revealed word. [BKG420; GPB239]
  • Akka Kitab-i-Ahd (Book of the Covenant); Bahaullah, Will and Testament of; Crimson Book; Covenant (general); Bahaullah, Writings of; Bahaullah, Life of; Bahaullah, Basic timeline; Abdul-Baha, Life of; Bahji; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    1892. 7 Jun On the ninth day after Bahá'u'lláh's passing the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh, the Kitáb-i-`Ahd was read at Bahjí before a large assembly in His Most Holy Tomb. [AB51–2; BBD132; CB150; DH113; GPB238; RB4:419–20, BKG420-425]
  • In it Bahá'u'lláh explicitly appointed `Abdu'l-Bahá His successor, the Centre of the Covenant and the Expounder of the revealed word. [BKG420; GPB239]
  • See CB150, 164 for the effect this had on the believers.
  • Bahji Kitab-i-Ahd (Book of the Covenant); Bahaullah, Will and Testament of; Bahaullah, Writings of; Bahaullah, Shrine of; Bahaullah, Ascension of; - Basic timeline, Condensed; - Basic timeline, Expanded; Abdul-Baha, Basic timeline; Abdul-Baha, Life of; Covenant (general)
    1900 7 Dec In New York, nine men were selected to govern the affairs of the Faith. Those serving were Arthur Dodge, Hooper Harris, William Hoar, Andrew Hutchinson, Howard MacNutt, Frank Osborne, Edwin Putnam, Charles Sprague and Orosco Woolson. Among the problems that they had to face was the effect of the disaffection of Kheiralla. [BFA2p36; Highlights of the First 40 Years of the Bahá’í Faith in New York, City of the Covenant, 1892-1932 by Hussein Ahdieh p5] New York; United States Board of Council; Spiritual Assemblies; LSA; Ibrahim George Kheiralla; Arthur Dodge; Hooper Harris; William Hoar; Andrew Hutchinson; Howard MacNutt; Frank Osborne; Edwin Putnam,; Charles Sprague; Orosco Woolson.
    1901 (In the year) William Hoar, one of the first Bahá'ís in America, was asked by `Abdu'l-Bahá to meet with the Persian ambassador in Washington to request justice for the Bahá'ís of Iran, thus marking the beginning of the efforts of the American Bahá'í community to alleviate the persecution of their brethren. [BFA2:51] Washington DC; United States; Iran William Hoar; Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Other; Persecution; Ambassadors; Human rights; Firsts, Other
    1901 Aug `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote His Will and Testament over this seven-year period. [AB124–5, 484; BBD236]
  • It was written in three parts. [AB124–5, 484; BBD236]
  • It `may be regarded as the offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who had generated the forces of a God-given Faith and the One Who had been made its sole Interpreter and was recognized as its perfect Exemplar'. [GPB325]
  • For an analysis of its content and its import see AB484–93 and GPB325–8.
  • Akka Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of; Charters; Abdul-Baha, Life of; Abdul-Baha, Basic timeline; - Basic timeline, Expanded; Covenant (general)
    1905 (In the year) A.L.M. Nicolas published his book Seyyed Ali dit le Bab. It was the first work by a western author dedicated entirely to the Báb.
    It is "(a) history of the Bábí movement up to 1852. Nicolas gives a list of sources for this book on pp. 48-53. It is interesting to note that among his oral sources are four of the leading Bahá'ís of that period, who had been designated by Bahá'u'lláh as 'Hands of the Cause': Mírzá 'Alí-Muhammad, 'Ibn-i-Asdaq: Mullá 'Al-Akbar-i-Sháhmírzádí, Hají Akhund; Mírzá Muhammad-Táqíy-i-Abharí, 'Ibn-i-Abhar; and Mírzá Hasan-i-Adíb. The other two oral sources named are Siyyid 'Ismu'lláh, who was presumably Siyyid Mihdíy-i-Dihají, and Mírzá Yahyá, Subh-i-Azál." [BBR38-39]
  • The preamble to his book has an image that is supposedly of the Báb, but the portrait does not seem to be an authentic representation.

  • William Miller also reproduced Nicolas’s image on page 17 of his polemical work, The Bahá'í Faith: Its History and Teachings. (South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974). [‘The Bab in the World of Images’, Bahá'í Studies Review, vol. 19, June 2013, 171–90.]
  • See also WOB83 for other missionaries who wrote polemics against the Bahá'í Faith.
  • Paris; France Bab, Writings of; A.L.M. Nicolas; Criticism and apologetics; William McElwee Miller; Babi studies; First publications; Publications
    1919 Nov William Harry Randall, an American, asked `Abdu'l-Bahá if he might contribute to the building of the Western Pilgrim House. [DH179]
  • Plans were drawn up and work began but the funds available were insufficient to continue the work until 1923, when money was contributed by Amelia Collins and seven others. [BBD178; DH180; GPB307]
  • Haifa William Harry Randall; Abdul-Baha, Life of; Pilgrim Houses; Western Pilgrim House; Amelia Collins
    1920 24 May Charles Greenleaf, (b. 6 May, 1857 in Wisconsin), Disciple of `Abdu'l-Bahá, passed away at the home of William Harry Randall in Boston. He was interred in Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA Show Map Section K Lot 42. [SBR105; Find a grave]
  • For details of his life see SBR97-105.
  • For his obituary see SW11, 19:321-2.
  • Boston; Massachusetts; United States Charles Greenleaf; Disciples of Abdul-Baha; William Harry Randall; In Memoriam; Births and deaths
    1921 (Following `Abdu'l-Bahá's passing) Mírzá Muhammad-`Alí published far and wide that he was the successor to `Abdu'l-Bahá. [CB277]
  • The Egyptian Bahá'ís responded to this by publishing a refutation of his claims. [CB276; SW12, 19:294-5]
  • Egypt Mirza Muhammad Ali; Covenant-breakers; Succession; Abdul-Baha, Will and testament of
    1921 29 Dec Shoghi Effendi arrived in the Holy Land from England by train from Egypt. [GBF14; PP42]
  • An envelope addressed to him from 'Abdu'l-Bahá was waiting for him. It contained the Will and Testament. [Ruhi8.2p2]
  • He was so worn and grief-stricken that he had to be assisted up the stairs and was confined to bed for a number of days. [CB285]
  • United Kingdom; Egypt; Haifa Shoghi Effendi, Life of; Shoghi Effendi, Basic timeline; Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of; Abdul-Baha, Writings and talks of; Abdul-Baha, Passing of
    1922 3 Jan The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá was read aloud for the first time, to a group of nine men, mainly senior members of `Abdu'l-Bahá's family. [BBRSM115; CB286; ER194; GBF14; PP45]
  • Shoghi Effendi was not present at the reading. [CB286; ER194]
  • Shoghi Effendi was appointed Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. [WT11]
  • Shoghi Effendi had no fore-knowledge of the institution of the Guardianship nor that he would be appointed Guardian. [CB285; PP423]
  • Bahji Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of; Abdul-Baha, Writings and talks of; Guardianship; Shoghi Effendi, Life of; Abdul-Baha, Passing of; Shoghi Effendi, Basic timeline; - Basic timeline, Condensed; - Basic timeline, Expanded; Abdul-Baha, Basic timeline; Covenant (general)
    1922 7 Jan The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá was read publicly at his house to an assembled gathering of Bahá'ís from many countries. [ER199-200]
  • Shoghi Effendi was again absent. [ER200]
  • The Greatest Holy Leaf sent two cables to Persia, informing the Bahá'ís that Shoghi Effendi had been appointed Guardian and instructing them to hold memorial services for `Abdu'l-Bahá. [PP47]
  • Haifa Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of; Bahiyyih Khanum (Greatest Holy Leaf); Shoghi Effendi, Life of; Shoghi Effendi, Basic timeline; Guardianship; Abdul-Baha, Passing of; Abdul-Baha, House of; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    1922 9 Jan William H. Hoar, Disciple of `Abdu'l-Bahá, passed away in Fanwood, New Jersey. [SW12, 19:310]
  • For his obituary see SW12, 19:310-12.
  • Fanwood; New Jersey; United States William Hoar; Disciples of Abdul-Baha; In Memoriam; Births and deaths
    1922 25 Feb The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was written entirely in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own hand and it was Shoghi Effendi's first translation for the believers in the West. It was sent to New York and addressed to "The beloved of God and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the United states of America and Canada". The "Will" delineated the Bahá’í World Order, already founded in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and of which 'Abdul'-Bahá was the architect. [AY304] Haifa; New York; United States Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of; Abdul-Baha, Writings and talks of; Translation; Shoghi Effendi, Translations by; Shoghi Effendi, Life of; Shoghi Effendi, Basic timeline; Firsts, Other
    1927 Oct Shoghi Effendi entrusted Dr William Slater and his wife Ida Slater, who were visiting Haifa on a 19-day pilgrimage, with carpets from the Shrines of the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá for the House of Worship in Chicago. [SETPE1p149] Haifa; Wilmette; United States William Slater; Ida Slater; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Wilmette; Bab, Shrine of; Carpets; Gifts; Shoghi Effendi, Life of
    1928 31 Dec Ruth White, who had met 'Abdu'l-Bahá in New York in 1912 and who had been on pilgrimage in 1922, wrote to the High Commissioner of Palestine with a charge that the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was a forgery. [SETPE1p157]
  • See AY103 for 'Abdu'l-Bahá's reaction to Ruth White in New York in 1912.
  • See FMH64-65 for the story of how her plans to convince Doris and Willard McKay of her theories were thwarted by the sudden arrival of their two dogs who had had a recent encounter with a skunk.
  • Palestine; New York; United States Covenant-breakers; Ruth White; Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of
    1929 11 Feb William ‘Harry’ Randall, (b. 1863), passed away in Medford, MA. After his death, Shoghi Effendi named him one of the 19 Disciples of Abdu’l-Baha, a “Herald of the Covenant”. [BBD71]
  • For his obituary written by Shoghi Effendi see BW3:213.
  • For his biography see William Henry Randall: Disciple of Abdu’l-Baha by his daughter Bahiyyih Randall-Winckler, with M. R. Garis.
  • Medford; MA William Harry Randall; Disciples of Abdul-Baha; In Memoriam; Births and deaths
    1930 7 Oct Ruth White wrote to the High Commissioner of Palestine stating that she had sent a photograph of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament to Dr Ainsworth Mitchell in England who had declared it a forgery. The High Commissioner requested she send that same evidence to him and he forwarded it to the Governor of Haifa who requested to meet with Shoghi Effendi and allow an expert to examine the original. The expert declared the Will authentic. [SETPET1p157]
  • See Mitchell's Mistake for a discussion of Mitchell's analysis of the handwriting of 'Abdu'l-Bahá by Senn McGlinn.
  • Haifa; Israel; United Kingdom Covenant-breakers; Ruth White; Abdul-Baha, Will and testament of; Authenticity; Shoghi Effendi, Life of; High Commissioners; Ainsworth Mitchell
    1931 (In the year) The publication of Bahá'ism: Its Origins, History and Teachings by Reverend William McElwee Miller, a Presbyterian missionary working in Mashhad, Iran. He wrote the "All impartial observers of Bahá'ism in Persia are agreed that here in the land of its birth this religion...is now steadily losing ground...It is only a matter of time until this strange movement...shall be known only to students of history." [MCSp766]
  • In 1923 he visited Shoghi Effendi in Haifa. [SETPE1p62]
  • See 1974 when he published the updated version of his polemic entitledThe Bahá'í Faith: Its History and Teachings.
  • Mashhad; Iran Criticism and apologetics; William McElwee Miller
    1940 Sep William Sears, Hand of the Cause of God, became a Bahá’í in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City; Utah; United States William Sears; Hands of the Cause
    1942 (The early 20th Century) Bahá'í Scholarship

    The publication in 1865 of the Comte de Gobineau’s (1816-1882),Les Religions et Les Philosophies dans l'Asie Centrale created an interest in Europe. A scholar that was inspired by Gobineau was E.G.Browne. He travelled to Iran and also visited Bahá’u’lláh in Akka in the latter days of His life. He translated two histories of the new religion and published two other books as well as a number of articles. He also made an important collection of manuscripts that he gave to Cambridge University Library. Bahá'ís have criticized Browne's work for being too sympathetic to Azal, Baha'u'llah's half-brother and implacable enemy. One of the books that Cobineau for Les Religions... was Násikhu't-Taváríkh (the 'history to abrogate all previous historiies') by Lisánu'l-Mulk. This book had been condemned by Bahá'u'lláh as a falsification of history one which even an infidel would not have had the effrontery to produce. [SUR36-37]      

    A.L.M. Nicolas (1864-1939) was a French consular official in Iran who researched and wrote a biography of the Báb as well as translating three of the Báb's major works into French.

         Just as the Báb was the centre of the scholarly interests of Gobineau, Browne and Nicolas, some Russian scholars who were more interested in Bahá'u'lláh. Baron Viktor Rosen (1849-1908), the director of the Oriental Department of the University of St. Petersburg was assisted by Aleksandr Tumanski (1861-1920). He spent a great deal of time with the Bahá'í community of Ashkhabad and with Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani. Although he did not write as much as Browne or Nicolas, what he did write was derived from a very deep and thorough investigation. [L&E43-83]

         There was much interest in scholarship in the early days of the Faith because almost all of the most important disciples of the Báb were Islamic religious scholars, as were many of the leading converts to the Bahá'í Faith in later years. The most important of these was the above mentioned Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Gulpaygani (1844-1914). He was learned in the Zoroastrian and Jewish scriptures and spent some time in the Christian West at the request of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá prior to His visit.

         During the 1930s to 1960s, a second generation of Iranian Bahá'í scholars, such as Fadil Mazandarani (1881-1957), 'Abdul-Hamid Ishraq-Khavari (1902-1972), and 'Azizu'llah Sulaymani (1901-1985) systematized Bahá'í theology and law, developed aids for scholars such as dictionaries of Bahá'í terminology, and wrote histories and biographies. This was of course a more traditional style of scholarship than is current in the West, but it continues to be useful to all present scholars.

         The above-described initial flurry of interest in the Bábí and Bahá'í religions in the West was not sustained and from the 1920s to the 1970s, there were no Western scholars who were as deeply engaged as the above-named ones and only a handful of studies that can be said to have done much to advance knowledge. From the 1970s onward, there gradually emerged a new stream of scholars who can be said to be a fusion of the above two groups, the Western and the Bahá'í scholars. This new generation of scholars mostly began as Bahá'ís, although some have subsequently left the religion. They use Western academic methodology and most operate from within Western universities but they have access to insider information and resources. Apart from these individuals, the Bahá'í Faith has been very little studied by Western scholars of religion.

         A word must also be said about what passes for scholarship on the Bahá'í Faith in Iran and to a lesser extent in the rest of the Middle East. Bahá'ís have been persecuted in many Middle Eastern countries and rejected by Islamic leaders, and one form of this discrimination has involved the manipulation of information. For most of the last 100 years, deliberately distorted or falsified information and documents have been created mostly by some within the Islamic religious establishment and then distributed as though these were facts about the Bahá'í Faith. Since the Bahá'ís have had no ability to respond to this material in the Middle East, these distortions have gradually become accepted in the Middle East as the truth. One example is the forged memoirs of Count Dolgorukov, the Russian ambassador to Iran in the 1840s to 1850s. This and other contradictions were so clearly spurious that even some Iranian scholars debunked them when they were first published in the 1940s. But despite this, they are often regularly cited by Middle Eastern writers up to the present day as though they are a reliable source for the history of the religion.

         Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, this manufacturing of disinformation and forged material has increased greatly with programs in the media, articles, and books appearing on a frequent basis, especially in the government-run media. The result is that there is almost nothing published in the Middle East that has reliable information about the Bahá'í Faith in it. A little of this sort of scholarship has also appeared in the West; some Christian missionaries, notably Reverend William McElwee Miller(1892-1993)(Also see WOB83) have written anti-Bahá'í material and ex-Bahá'ís have published academic work that is calculated to make the Bahá'í community resemble a cult as portrayed in the anti-cult campaigns that were carried out in the Western media in the 1980s. [The above was copied from the website Patheos and has been edited for brevity. It was contributed by Dr. Natalie Mobini]

  • See as well the publication of Der Bahā'ismus, Weltreligion der Zukunft?: Geschichte, Lehre und Organisation in Kritischer Anfrage (Bahá'ísm-Religion of the Future? History, Doctrine and Organization: A Critical Inquiry) by Francesco Ficicchia under the auspices of the Central Office of the Protestant Church for Questions of Ideology in Germany.
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