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The Child of the Covenant:
A Study Guide to the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha

by Adib Taherzadeh

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Chapter 13

Attacks on the Centre of the Covenant

5-WT [Mirza Muhammad-'Ali] hath falsified the Holy Text...[*]

[* For a full discussion of this subject see chapter 16.]

5-WT ...[Mirza Muhammad-'Ali] hath inflicted a grievous loss
upon the true Faith of God, hath scattered His people, hath with
bitter rancour endeavoured to hurt 'Abdu'l-Bahá and hath
assailed with the utmost enmity this servant of the Sacred
Threshold. Every dart he seized and hurled to pierce the breast
of this wronged servant, no wound did he neglect to grievously
inflict upon me, no venom did he spare but he poisoned therewith
the life of this hapless one. I swear by the most holy Abha
Beauty and by the Light shining from His Holiness, the Exalted
One (may my soul be a sacrifice for Their lowly servants), that
because of this iniquity the dwellers in the Pavilion of the Abha
Kingdom have bewailed, the Celestial Concourse is lamenting,
the Immortal Maids of Heaven in the All-Highest Paradise have
raised their plaintive cries and the angelic company sighed and
uttered their meanings.

The cruelties heaped upon 'Abdu'l-Bahá by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, supported by most members of Bahá'u'lláh's family, were ruthless and unrelenting. That 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the agony and lamentations of the Concourse on high is indicative of the grievous nature of the attacks carried out by a faithless band of Covenant-breakers. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's account of the sufferings He endured at their hands, as mentioned in the section of the Will and Testament cited above, will become clear to readers with the perusal of the forthcoming pages of this book.

Further, in the Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Bahá makes the following statement:

5-WT So grievous the deeds of this iniquitous person became
that he struck with his axe at the root of the Blessed Tree, dealt
a heavy blow at the Temple of the Cause of God, deluged with
tears of blood the eyes of the loved ones of the Blessed Beauty,
cheered and encouraged the enemies of the One True God, by
his repudiation of the Covenant turned many a seeker after Truth
aside from the Cause of God, revived the blighted hopes of
Yahya's following, made himself detested, caused the enemies
of the Greatest Name to become audacious and arrogant, put
aside the firm and conclusive verses and sowed the seeds of
doubt.

As mentioned in the preceding chapter, for four years Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's rebellion was kept a well-guarded secret by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. During this period and afterwards, almost the entire family of Bahá'u'lláh, including three of His sons and two daughters, together with their families, as well as the two surviving wives of Bahá'u'lláh and their relatives, rose up against 'Abdu'l-Bahá. They fought Him fiercely on every issue which related to His being the Head of the Faith and the Centre of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, members of Bahá'u'lláh's family were foremost among those who violated the Covenant.

After Bahá'u'lláh's passing the only members of His family who remained firm in the Covenant, in the face of great opposition, were Mirza Muhammad-Quli and his family, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His family and the Greatest Holy Leaf. Mirza Muhammad-Quli, the youngest half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh, was about seven years older than 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He was very young when his father died and was brought up by Bahá'u'lláh. He travelled with Him on His exiles and shared, in a spirit of resignation and fortitude, the sufferings inflicted on him in the course of four successive banishments. He had a quiet and loving disposition and took great pride in serving Bahá'u'lláh in domestic affairs.

In order to survey, however briefly, the nefarious activities of the Covenant-breakers during 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry, it is necessary to mention a few individuals who were the props and mainstays of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in his activities. Foremost among them in the Holy Land was Majdu'd-Din, the son of Aqay-i-Kalim, the noble brother of Bahá'u'lláh. Majdu'd-Din was the backbone, the motivating force behind Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. He had married Samadiyyih, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's sister, and was a bitter enemy of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 'Abdu'l-Bahá prophesied that Majdu'd-Din would live a long life to see the triumph of the Cause and the frustration of his evil plots. This prophecy was fulfilled: he lived to be over a hundred years old and saw the birth of the Administrative Order, the child of the Covenant, and the strengthening of its foundations by Shoghi Effendi. Majdu'd-Din died in 1955, two years after the Ten Year Crusade was launched by the Guardian, having witnessed the indisputable ascendancy of the Covenant and the extinction of his hopes and evil designs.

Another ally and close companion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was his youngest brother Mirza Badi'u'llah. His shameful activities against the Centre of the Covenant and his opposition at a later date to Shoghi Effendi will be referred to in the following pages. Mirza Badi'u'llah also lived a long life and died at an advanced age.

Bahá'u'lláh's other son, Mirza Diya'u'llah, was a vacillating person who wavered in his allegiance to the Centre of the Covenant; he was easily manipulated and became a willing tool in the hands of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. He lived in the Mansion of Bahji along with the rest of the family, all of whom were affected by the spirit of Covenant-breaking. Mirza Diya'u'llah died in 1898, only six years after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh. He did not live to take an effective part in all the hostile activities which his brother conducted against 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Another veteran Covenant-breaker was Haji Siyyid 'Ali Afnan, a son of the venerable Haji Mirza Siyyid Hasan, entitled Afnan-i-Kabir (Great Afnan),[*] brother of the wife of the Bab. Siyyid 'Ali joined hands with the Arch-breaker of the Covenant and became one of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's great enemies. He had risen to eminence through the efforts of the wife of the Bab, who sent a special message to Bahá'u'lláh through Munirih Khanum, the wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, when she visited her in Shiraz. Munirih Khanum has written the following account:

[* For an account of his life see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4.]

The wife of the Bab said: 'Please supplicate the Blessed Perfection
to grant two wishes of mine. One, that one of the exalted Leaves[**]
of the blessed Family may be permitted to join in wedlock with a
member of the family of the Bab, so that the two holy Trees may
be outwardly knit together. The other, to grant me permission to
attend His presence.' I conveyed this message when I attained the
presence of Bahá'u'lláh; He readily assented to both her
requests.[157]

[** Bahá'u'lláh referred to His male descendants as Aghsan (Branches) and His female descendants of Varaqat (Leaves).]

[157 Khatirat-i-Afnan, pp. 165-6.]

The person the wife of the Bab had in mind was Haji Siyyid 'Ali. Bahá'u'lláh granted her wish and he was joined in wedlock with Furughiyyih, a daughter of Bahá'u'lláh. As a token of his appreciation, Siyyid 'Ali promised his aunt, the wife of the Bab, that he would accompany her to the Holy Land if Bahá'u'lláh accepted the proposal for his marriage. However, when the time arrived he left for 'Akka alone. Thus he broke his promise and with it the heart of that noble lady. Being unable to travel on her own, she was sorrowful and disconsolate as a result of this cruel treatment. Soon her health was impaired and a few months later she passed away.

After the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, Siyyid 'Ali and his wife Furughiyyih sided with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and rose up in opposition to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. After inflicting much pain upon the Centre of the Covenant for several years, Siyyid 'Ali repented of his iniquitous deeds and the Master forgave him. But his repentance was short-lived; he returned to his den again and resumed his odious activities against 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It was the members of his family who were chiefly responsible for delivering the most painful blows upon the person of Shoghi Effendi during his ministry. They caused havoc in the family of the Master and tore it apart altogether.

Apart from these members of Bahá'u'lláh's family who rose up against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, there were others in the Holy Land who joined hands with them. Notorious among them was Mirza Aqa Jan, Bahá'u'lláh's amanuensis, who had fallen from grace during the last months of Bahá'u'lláh's ministry.[*] His rebellion against the Centre of the Covenant erased his 40-year record of service to Bahá'u'lláh and stained the annals of the Faith.

[* See Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. chapter 15.]

Another opponent of the Covenant was Muhammad-Javad-i-Qazvini. He first attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad; some years later he went to Adrianople and remained in the service of Bahá'u'lláh there. He was among those who accompanied Him to 'Akka, was the recipient of His boundless favours, transcribed His writings and was entitled 'Ismu'llahu'l-Javad' (the Name of God Javad) by Him. Muhammad-Javad was an arrogant man who after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh betrayed his Lord and became one of the adversaries of 'Abdul-Baha in spite of His efforts to protect him from Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's wicked designs. But the Master did not succeed in His efforts to save Javad, for Javad had been irremediably corrupted by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, especially as he had established a family link by marrying a sister of one of the wives of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. Although he was devoid of knowledge and learning, he attacked the Centre of the Covenant in his venomous writings, which contain many inaccuracies, falsehoods and calumnies. Professor Edward Browne of Cambridge was misled by him when he translated some of Javad's writings and published them in one of his works.

At the same time as the believers in the Holy Land were being tested by the disease of Covenant-breaking, a number of outstanding teachers of the Faith in Persia who were ambitious for the leadership of that community also defected and rose up in opposition to the


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Centre of the Covenant. The main source of rebellion was the proud and egotistical Jamal-i-Burujirdi.[*] For many years during Bahá'u'lláh's ministry this ambitious and deceitful man was foremost among the teachers of the Faith and his fame had spread throughout the community. Bahá'u'lláh concealed his faults, revealed many Tablets in his name, entitled him 'Ismu'llahu'l-Jamal' (the Name of God Jamal), exhorted him to faithfulness and purity of motive, at times admonished him for those of his actions which were harmful to the Faith and overlooked his shortcomings with forbearance and magnanimity. However, his hypocrisy was known to those who were close to him. Before embracing the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, Jamal had been a learned mujtahid from the town of Burujird. Many Bahá'ís in Persia who could not see his deceitful and egotistical nature looked upon him as a man of God and treated him with great respect. It was after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh that Jamal showed his true colours, rejected the Covenant and rebelled against its Centre.

[* For a detailed story of his nefarious activities see Taherzadeh, Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, chapter 15.]

There were other teachers of the Faith in Persia who were also proud and ambitious. Notorious among them was Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji entitled by Bahá'u'lláh 'Ismu'llahu'l-Mihdi' (the Name of God Mihdi).[**] He too was treated with loving kindness and forbearance by Bahá'u'lláh, was an eloquent teacher of the Cause and was highly esteemed by the believers. Jalil-i-Khu'i[***] was another well-known believer, for whom Bahá'u'lláh revealed the Tablet of Ishraqat. These men and several others who were engaged in the service of the Cause during Bahá'u'lláh's ministry lusted in their hearts for glory and leadership of the community and were tested through the institution of the Covenant. When they failed to comply with the provisions of the Kitab-i-'Ahd and broke the Covenant, they were expelled from the community.

[** For more information see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 2.]

[*** For more information see Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4.]

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's campaign of opposition against 'Abdu'l-Bahá acquired greater momentum as the years went by. Soon after the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, who had already won the support of most members of Bahá'u'lláh's family, began secretly to undermine the faith of the believers in 'Akka, to weaken their love and loyalty towards the Master and eventually win them over to his own camp.

The first thing he did was to launch among the believers a clandestine campaign of calumny against 'Abdu'l-Bahá. At a time when He


[page 148]

had, as a sign of humility among the believers, adopted the title of ''Abdu'l-Bahá' (Servant of Bahá'u'lláh) and requested the friends to call Him by this new name rather than by such exalted titles as the 'Master', 'the Most Great Branch' and others conferred upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali spread rumours that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had claimed to be an independent Manifestation of God. He shamelessly accused 'Abdu'l-Bahá of aiming to destroy Bahá'u'lláh's Faith, to abrogate its laws and to completely wipe out every trace of His Revelation. He went so far as to impute to 'Abdu'l-Bahá the claim of divinity for Himself. To strengthen these false accusations, the Covenant-breakers began to preach to everyone the principle of the oneness of God and that no one can claim partnership with Him. In order to draw attention to this point, they called themselves Muvahhidin (Believers in the Unity of God). It is this appellation to which 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers in the following passage of His Will and Testament:

17-WT ...the Centre of sedition waxed haughty and rebellious
and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and
perturbed and poisoned others.

So widespread was this propaganda that even in the early days when the believers in Persia heard of this they were puzzled by the emphasis placed on the oneness of God. Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali wrote about this. The following is a summary translation of his words:

As the Day-Star of the Incomparable Beauty hid itself from the eyes
of men and began to shed its light from the Realm of Glory upon
the peoples of the world, and His confirmations and assistance
were showered upon the Centre of His Covenant, these unfaithful
ones began to promote their designs. When they came in contact
with the believers, whether residents or pilgrims, they opened
the subject of the oneness of God saying that God is one, there is
no partner with Him, and the Most Great Infallibility belongs to
Him, exalted be His Glory. The believers were surprised and
bewildered at such statements. They could not understand to whom
they were imputing their strange suggestions, for no one had
claimed to be a partner with God or be a possessor of the Most
Great Infallibility.[158]

[158 Haydar-'Ali, Bihjatu's-Sudur, p. 328.]

Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates tried by various methods to undermine the faith of some believers and convert them to their side. For example, they knew those who were steadfast in the Covenant and those who were weak, simple-hearted or proud and ambitious. They bypassed the former and concentrated on sowing


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the seeds of doubt in the hearts of the latter, adopting different methods to achieve their purpose. In all these they hid themselves under the cloak of hypocrisy and did their best to pose as the most devoted, the most pious and the most humble Bahá'ís in the land. For example, one way of misleading a simple-hearted believer was for a few agents of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali to get close to him personally and establish bonds of friendship with him. The Covenant-breakers posed as the most humble followers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and in the course of conversation praised the Master with unusual exaggeration, saying that He was a Manifestation of God, that His station was equal to Bahá'u'lláh's, that He was the embodiment of divinity Himself and that in their prayers they turned to Him instead of God. One after the other would convey to the individual such preposterous thoughts and assure him falsely that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had claimed such a station for Himself. When they were sure that the loyal Bahá'í was beginning to have doubts about 'Abdu'l-Bahá's station, they would then despatch other persons to him who would disprove and strongly criticize fabricated claims which they had slanderously attributed, to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In this way, through deceit and falsehood, they would weaken the faith of the believer to a point where he would be invited to join the group of dissidents.

Another trick played by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was to shower praise upon an outstanding teacher of the Faith who was steadfast in the Covenant. Consequently some believers would conclude that the famous Bahá'í teacher must have joined the ranks of the Covenant-breakers. This could result in the defection of some weak and uninformed believers. Once, Mirza Muhammad-'Ali's associates published a paper in which they paid great tribute to the famous Bahá'í scholar Mirza Abu'l-Fadl and extolled him in superlative terms. No sooner was Mirza Abu'l-Fadl informed of this than he wrote an open letter saying that they had no right to praise him and that this action alone had exposed their hypocrisy, for he was abhorred in their sight. If any praise was due to him, it ought to come from the friends of 'Abdu'l-Bahá He handed this letter to the Master who directed that it be read aloud at a meeting of the friends.

For some years the Covenant-breakers used to mix freely with the believers, especially a few who cast themselves as the most steadfast in the Covenant but who, in reality, were acting as spies. In the gatherings of the friends, these men would speak with eloquence and feigned sincerity about the importance of firmness in the Covenant. At every meeting they would urge the believers to remain loyal to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Having established their credibility in the community, they would then intimate to the friends that a certain steadfast believer whom they knew to be rather naive and simple-hearted had


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secretly joined the Covenant-breakers. Such an accusation, which was entirely false, would disturb the steadfast believers but these unscrupulous men would bring forth all kinds of reasons in support of their claim. For instance, one would say, I saw this person in the street bowing to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali. Another would say, I saw many pages of the writings of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali in his possession. One would say, I saw him in the street turning his back to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Naturally, having heard and believed such accusations against this poor individual, the faithful believers would avoid his company. Having isolated this person from the community, then Mirza Muhammad-'Ali would send his men to win him over to his side through artful manipulations and stories about 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the steadfast believers. There were also other deceitful practices through which the Covenant-breakers succeeded in gathering a number of people around themselves.

By such means a temporary breach was made in the ranks of the believers but the Covenant-breakers did not limit their activities to the Bahá'í community. Soon after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh they began a campaign of defamation against 'Abdu'l-Bahá among prominent people in 'Akka and other cities of Syria.[*] The breaking of the Covenant and rising against its Centre brought great sorrow to the hearts of the believers. Dr Yunis Khan, a trusted secretary of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and a well-known defender of the Covenant, wrote an account of the condition of the believers and Covenant-breakers in 'Akka. The following is a summary translation of his observations during a period when the Covenant-breakers were openly attacking the Cause:

[* See chapter 17 for a detailed account of their efforts to discredit 'Abdu'l-Bahá.]

Each one of the Aghsan played a special role. The Arch-breaker
of the Covenant, similar to Mirza Yahya, kept out of sight and
retired to the sanctuary of the Mansion of Bahji. Instead, he
dispatched Mirza Badi'u'llah into the field of action. The vacillating
Mirza Diya'u'llah, a person who was undecided and shifted his
position from one side to the other, often acted as a link between
the believers and the Covenant-breakers.

Mirza Badi'u'llah was actively engaged, from morning till night,
in stirring up sedition in the land. He was an artful player as he
moved in different circles. He was a two-faced hypocrite who
adapted himself to every situation and changed his style and
disposition to conform to the often conflicting customs of various
groups of people. He even attended private merrymaking parties
held for the enjoyment of sensual pleasures. The late Diya'u'llah,
that poor wavering person, did not have a steady outlook. At times
he was friendly towards the believers, at other times unfriendly;


[page 151]

for a while he would be steadfast in the Covenant, then he would
change his allegiance and join the Covenant-breakers. He was
always vacillating and often would bring messages from the
Covenant-breakers to the Master. [159]

[159 Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih, pp. 59-60.]

Dr Yunis Khan also observed that the Covenant-breakers could be divided into three categories:

The first were those who had completely cut themselves off from
the community; they showed their animosity quite openly and had
the audacity to speak disrespectfully to 'Abdu'l-Bahá whenever they
met Him.

The second group were those who were cut off horn the community
and were at a loose end, wandering in the streets of Haifa and
'Akka.

The third were the hesitating and wavering types who used to
associate freely with the believers and usually were the cause of
mischief. They acted as spies and informers, would pass on the
news of the believers to the Covenant-breakers who, acting upon
the information, would then formulate their stratagem accordingly.

Dr Yunis Khan described the state of the believers in those days. Here is a summary translation of his words:

In those difficult times, the believers had special feelings and
concerns which are impossible to appreciate in these days, unless
one has lived through the events of that period. For instance, those
steadfast believers, especially the older ones, had witnessed from
the early days of Bahá'u'lláh's successive banishments until the
final transfer of His residence to the Mansion of Bahji, the manner
in which the Centre of the Covenant was cherished in the presence
of. Bahá'u'lláh. They remembered how He was treated with extreme
reverence, honour and deepest affection. They recalled the
attitude of the Aghsan and the Afnan as they showed the utmost
submissiveness, humility and obedience to Him. All these had
changed and the believers were now utterly heartbroken and filled
with grief as they observed Him woefully wronged and treated with
malice.

Each day the Covenant-breakers created a new mischief. They
spread so much calumny against the Master throughout the land
that the public in the whole of Syria were perplexed and led astray.
Even those people whose daily sustenance had been provided
through the generosity of the Master arose against Him. Many
prominent people of Haifa and 'Akka who used to attribute miracles
to Him in the past now shunned Him and secretly joined
hands with Covenant-breakers against Him... Each day the
number of His admirers reduced while the number of stirrers of
sedition increased.


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It is because of these developments that the believers who were
steadfast in the Covenant were sorrowful and grieved. The extent
of their distress and anguish was beyond description. But when
they attained the presence of the Master and heard His inspiring
words and came into contact with His heavenly spirit, a new life
was breathed into their souls and the light of hope shone forth in
their sorrowful hearts.

In those days the Cause of God had been promoted in the West.
Each week a bundle of letters of declaration of faith or questions
about spiritual matters was received. These were translated and
read to the friends in the biruni (outer quarters) of the Master's
house. The believers were highly exhilarated by hearing the news
of the spread of the Cause in the West... Such exciting news was
instantly carried to the Mansion of Bahji by a few individuals who
acted as spies in the midst of the friends. This would activate the
Covenant-breakers to intensify their campaign of opposition by
fabricating new calumnies against the Master and publishing them
in their inflammatory letters.[160]

[160 ibid. pp. 40-3. (Yunis Khan, Khatirat-i-Nuh-Salih.)]

The Covenant-breakers tried very hard, with the help of the notorious Jamal-i-Burujirdi and a few others, to undermine the faith of the believers in Persia but they failed miserably. Only a very small handful of ambitious men carried on a campaign of opposition against the Covenant but they were effectively silenced by a devoted and steadfast community whose members were deepened in the Covenant and were brought up with an intense love for the Master.

Jamal, who was foremost amongst the teachers of the Cause in Persia, became very tense and agitated after the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh. When he saw the first message sent by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the Bahá'ís of the East, he dismissed it, saying, 'The Aghsan are young and immature.' This remark was a reference to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Jamal was the first among the Bahá'ís of Persia to travel to the Holy, Land, very soon after the ascension. He went there without seeking permission from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, met with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, stayed there for a few months and returned to Persia. From that time onwards, his attitude and feelings disturbed the hearts of those who came into close contact with him. The words and counsels of 'Abdu'l-Bahá exhorting him to servitude and detachment went unheeded. The poison of Covenant-breaking had been effectively injected into his whole being by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, and although outwardly he professed loyalty to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, inwardly he was preparing himself for the day when he would become the head of the Faith in Persia. To this end, he influenced certain individuals in each province to act as his representatives. This was not difficult for him to achieve, since several teachers of the Faith in different parts of the country were his supporters. Because the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali was kept a secret for a few years, Jamal had no choice but to continue his activities within the Bahá'í community.

Over the course of several decades Jamal had acquired many admirers. For example, many believers in the city of Qazvin were his staunch supporters and he considered that city to be his stronghold and refuge. He was also very popular among the believers in the province of Mazindaran.

During this time, 'Abdu'l-Bahá continually exhorted Jamal to steadfastness in the Covenant and to purity of motive, in Tablets indicative of His loving concern for Jamal's spiritual survival. But, alas, in the end Jamal lost this battle. When the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-'Ali became public knowledge and his circular letters misrepresenting the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá reached the Bahá'ís of Persia, Jamal threw in his lot with the Arch-breaker of the Covenant. By transferring his loyalty to Mirza Muhammad-'Ali, Jamal expected to become the indisputable head of the Faith in Persia, a position promised him by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali himself, but after Jamal became involved in activities against the Covenant, he was expelled from the Faith by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. No sooner did the believers become informed of this than the entire Bahá'í community in Persia, with the exception of a handful of people, shunned his company. Those very few individuals who joined him in his odious activities were likewise cast out of the community and isolated.

The manner in which the believers swiftly cut their association with Jamal came as a surprise to many observers. For example, he was rejected by almost the entire community in Qazvin, where he had his most ardent admirers. The same thing happened in Mazindaran. While the believers had previously given him respect and veneration, after his defection he was shunned so effectively that he could not find even one family to offer him hospitality in that province. In some places, for example in Adhirbayjan, he found a few individuals who harboured him but he and his dwindling associates swiftly sank into oblivion.

At the height of Jamal's popularity and success, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote him a Tablet[161] in which He emphasized the importance of steadfastness in the Covenant, stating that in this day the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh will reach only those who are firm in the Covenant. He affirmed that even should the one who was an embodiment of the Holy Spirit fail to turn to the Centre of the Covenant, he would become a dead body, whereas a child who remained steadfast in the Covenant would be assisted by the hosts of the Supreme Concourse. Ironically, this Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá found its fulfilment in Jamal and his few assistants, who withered away spiritually.

[161 Ma'idiy-i-Asmani, vol. 5, pp. 98-9.]

There were a few other teachers in Persia who also rebelled against the Covenant. Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji was one. Like Jamal he was a learned man and a very capable teacher of the Faith. As mentioned above, Bahá'u'lláh had conferred upon him the title of 'Ismu'llahu'l-Mihdi' (the Name of God Mihdi) and had revealed many Tablets in his honour. Siyyid Mihdi was a native of Dahaj in the province of Yazd. He attained the presence of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, Adrianople and 'Akka and received His unfailing bounties. Like Jamal, he traveled widely throughout Persia and was much honoured by the believers. Yet people who were endowed with discernment found him to be insincere, egotistical and deeply attached to the things of this world. Notable among those who have written their impressions of him is Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali, who also wrote about Jamal-i-Burundi. A perusal of his narratives makes it clear that these two men had at least one thing in common, namely their insatiable lust for leadership. For example, Siyyid Mihdi always entered Bahá'í gatherings with an air of superiority. He loved to have a retinue of the faithful walk behind him and at night, in the absence of public lighting, he was preceded by a number of believers who carried lanterns for him. This made a spectacular scene in those days, for normally only one servant or a friend with a lantern accompanied a prominent person at night. In Siyyid Mihdi's case some believers even vied with each other to perform this service and Haji Mirza Haydar-'Ali recalls an evening when no less than 14 men, with lanterns in hand, escorted him to a meeting!

Men such as these always fall. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh does not harbour people who are egotistical and seek to glorify themselves. Its hallmark is servitude and the standard it demands is sincerity and purity of motive. It is not therefore surprising that, like Jamal, Siyyid Mihdi was toppled to the ground when the winds of tests began to blow. He ultimately broke the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh and, in the hope of becoming one of the undisputed leaders of the Faith in Persia, joined hands with Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and rebelled against the appointed Centre of the Cause of God. When this became known, the believers left him to his own devices and soon his glory was turned into abasement and the power of the Covenant swept him into the abyss of ignominy and perdition.

The swift downfall of the Covenant-breakers in Persia and the complete frustration of their evil plans resulted in a great upsurge of activity in the Bahá'í community, which had cleansed itself from this pollution. Notwithstanding such an achievement, the believers were deeply distressed by the acts of treachery and deceit perpetrated by Mirza Muhammad-'Ali and his associates. Their grief knew no bounds as they contemplated the wrongs inflicted upon the Centre of the Covenant.

The news of the uprising of Bahá'u'lláh's family members against 'Abdu'l-Bahá, known by the public as the Head of the Faith, was greeted enthusiastically by the enemies of the Cause in Persia who, as the years went by, increased their attacks against the community. These reached their climax in the summer of 1903 with the massacre of great numbers of Bahá'ís in the city of Yazd and neighbouring villages — the greatest upheaval since the blood-bath of 1852 in Tihran. Another consequence of the calumnies which the Covenant-breakers published widely against 'Abdu'l-Bahá was the disillusionment of many prominent people who were His admirers. The dwindling followers of Mirza Yahya who were influential in political circles in Persia also took advantage of propaganda against 'Abdu'l-Bahá and, highlighting the leadership crisis in the Bahá'í community, hoped to revive the fortunes of their tottering movement.


[page 156]

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