Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones...
Know thou that polygamy is not permitted under the law of God, for contentment with one wife hath been clearly stipulated. Taking a second wife is made dependent upon equity and justice being upheld between the two wives, under all conditions. However, observance of justice and equity towards two wives is utterly impossible. The fact that bigamy has been made dependent upon an impossible condition is clear proof of its absolute prohibition. Therefore it is not permissible for a man to have more than one wife.
It is true that Bahá'u'lláh lays on every Bahá'í the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all believers to understand the difference between teaching and proselytizing. It is a significant difference and, in some countries where teaching a religion is permitted, but proselytizing is forbidden, the distinction is made in the law of the land. Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. In some countries mission schools or hospitals, for all the good they do, are regarded with suspicion and even aversion by the local authorities because they are considered to be material inducements to conversion and hence instruments of proselytization.(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 513)
11 February 1934
Dear Bahá'í Brother,
I am charged by the Guardian to thank you for your letter of Jan. 30th as well as for the enclosed pamphlet containing the address delivered by Herr Hitler on Oct. 14th, 1933, on the subject of Germany's attitude towards peace, all of which he read with deepest care and sustained interest. He wishes me to convey to you and to all the members of your German National Assembly and through them to all the followers of the Faith in Germany his views on the present conditions in that land, and particularly in their relation to the nature and scope of the Bahá'í activities of our German believers.
At the outset it should be made indubitably clear that the Bahá'í Cause being essentially a religious movement of a spiritual character stands above every political party or group, and thus cannot and should not act in contravention to the principles, laws, and doctrines of any government. Obedience to the regulations and orders of the state is indeed, the sacred obligation of every true and loyal Bahá'í. Both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá have urged us all to be submissive and loyal to the political authorities of our respective countries. It follows, therefore, that our German friends are under the sacred obligation to whole-heartedly obey the existing political regime, whatever be their personal views and criticisms of its actual working. There is nothing more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than open rebellion against the governmental authorities of a country, specially if they do not interfere in and do not oppose the inner and sacred beliefs and religious convictions of the individual. And there is every reason to believe that the present regime in Germany which has thus far refused to trample upon the domain of individual conscience in all matters pertaining to religion will never encroach upon it in the near future, unless some unforeseen and unexpected changes take place. And this seems to be doubtful at present.
For whereas the friends should obey the government under which they live, even at the risk of sacrificing all their administrative affairs and interests, they should under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever. A distinction of a fundamental importance must, therefore, be made between spiritual and administrative matters. Whereas the former are sacred and inviolable, and hence cannot be subject to compromise, the latter are secondary and can consequently be given up and even sacrificed for the sake of obedience to the laws and regulations of the government. Obedience to the state is so vital a principle of the Cause that should the authorities in Germany decide to-day to prevent the Bahá'ís from holding any meeting or publishing any literature they should obey and be as submissive as our Russian believers have thus far been under the Soviet regime. But, as already pointed out, such an allegiance is confined merely to administrative matters which if checked can only retard the progress of the Faith for some time. In matters of belief, however, no compromise whatever should be allowed, even though the outcome of it be death or expulsion
There is one more point to be emphasized in this connection. The principle of obedience to government does not place any Bahá'í under the obligation of identifying the teachings of his Faith with the political program enforced by the government. For such an identification, besides being erroneous and contrary to both the spirit as well as the form of the Bahá'í message, would necessarily create a conflict within the conscience of every loyal believer.
For reasons which are only too obvious the Bahá'í philosophy of social and political organization cannot be fully reconciled with the political doctrines and conceptions that are current and much in vogue to-day. The wave of nationalism, so aggressive and so contagious in its effects, which has swept not only over Europe but over a large part of mankind is, indeed, the very negation of the gospel of peace and of brotherhood proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. The actual trend in the political world is, indeed, far from being in the direction of the Bahá'í teachings. The world is drawing nearer and nearer to a universal catastrophe which will mark the end of a bankrupt and of a fundamentally defective civilization.
From such considerations we can well conclude that we as Bahá'ís can in no wise identify the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh with man-made creeds and conceptions, which by their very nature are impotent to save the world from the dangers with which it is being so fiercely and so increasingly assailed.
The Guardian hopes that these brief explanations will be sufficient to guide our German National Assembly in their efforts to safeguard and promote the interests of the Faith, and that through them they will be given a new vision of the Cause and a fresh determination to carry forward its message to the world at large.
With greetings and best wishes to you and to all the friends in Germany,...
In the Guardian's own handwriting:
Dear and valued co-worker:
I wish to add a few words in loving appreciation of your strenuous, your intelligent and devoted efforts for the spread and consolidation of our beloved Faith. May the Almighty bless your endeavours, deepen your understanding of the essentials and requirements of our beloved Cause, and enable you in these difficult and challenging days to promote its interests and consolidate its institutions,
Your true brother,
To all National Spiritual Assemblies
SORELY TRIED COMMUNITY GREATEST NAME IRAN HAS IN RECENT DAYS SUSTAINED YET ANOTHER CRUEL BLOW OPENING NEW CHAPTER ITS TURBULENT HISTORY. ON 29 AUGUST IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT THROUGH STATEMENT ISSUED ATTORNEY-GENERAL ANNOUNCED BAN BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION, RECITING USUAL FALSE ACCUSATIONS STATING EXISTENCE ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALLY CONSIDERED TO BE AGAINST LAWS CONSTITUTION COUNTRY. HOWEVER STATEMENT SAID BAHA'IS MAY PRACTICE BELIEFS AS PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS PROVIDED THEY DO NOT TEACH OR INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN FAITH, THEY DO NOT FORM ASSEMBLIES OR HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ADMINISTRATION. SERVING IN BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION NOW SPECIFIED AS CRIMINAL ACT THIS LATEST ONSLAUGHT DEFENSELESS COMMUNITY CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES IMPLACABILITY FANATICAL ELEMENTS IN THEIR DRIVE SUPPRESS LIGHT GOD'S INFANT FAITH IN LAND ITS FIRST GLEAMING. IN CONFORMITY PRINCIPLE LOYALTY OBEDIENCE GOVERNMENT NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY IRAN IMMEDIATELY TOOK ACTION DISSOLVE BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION THROUGHOUT COUNTRY THUS UPHOLDING INTEGRITY COMMUNITY DESPITE HEAVY YOKE CRUELTIES BORNE BY ITS MEMBERS FOR SEVERAL GENERATIONS. CONFIDENT THAT STEADFAST TRIED AND DEVOTED FRIENDS THAT LONG AGITATED LAND WILL FACE NEW SITUATION WITH RADIANT FORTITUDE. AT SAME TIME BAHA'IS EI.SEWHERE ENJOYING FREEDOM PRACTICE FAITH ACUTELY CHALLENGED TO VINDICATE BY THEIR RECONSECRATION TO IMMEDIATE SACRED TASKS UNABATED SUFFERING THEIR GRIEVOUSLY WRONGED IRANIAN BRETHREN. INDEED ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES URGED TAKE STEPS STRENGTHEN FOUNDATION) BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS THEIR COUNTRIES AS TRIBUTE SACRIFICES COURAGEOUSLY ACCEPTED MEMBERS COMMUNITY BAHA'U'LLAH'S NATIVE LAND.
UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
The Assistant to the Public Prosecutor said, 'You are accused of being a member of the Zionist movement, who are spies.' In reply, I told him that Baha'is have nothing to do with politics. On the other hand, the state of Israel was founded only 32 years ago, while the Baha'i Faith was founded 139 years ago. We only have spiritual organizations which have nothing to do with politics. He said, 'There remains only one way for you, you should either recant the Faith or you will be executed.' I said I would rather be executed."Later, in a court appearance, the book quotes a judge telling Mona, "You are accused of misleading youth with your beautiful voice and chanting."
The baseless and nonsensical accusations levelled against the Baha'is include showing kindness and displaying rectitude of conduct in order to attract people to their Faith.I question the reasons recounted for Bahá’í arrests in official publications of the Bahá’í Administrative Order.
the varied and numerous Bahá’í institutions established in the past by heroic pioneers of the Faith have been brought into direct and sudden contact with the internal convulsions necessitated by the establishment and maintenance of an order so fundamentally at variance with Russia’s previous regime. The avowed purpose and action of the responsible heads of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics who, within their recognized and legitimate rights, have emphatically proclaimed and vigorously pursued their policy of uncompromising opposition to all forms of organized religious propaganda, have by their very nature created for those whose primary obligation is to labor unremittingly for the spread of the Bahá’í Faith a state of affairs that is highly unfortunate and perplexing...
our Bahá’í brethren in those provinces have had to endure the rigid application of the principles already enunciated by the state authorities and universally enforced with regard to all other religious communities under their sway. Faithful to their policy of expropriating in the interests of the State all edifices and monuments of a religious character, they have a few months ago approached the Bahá’í representatives in Turkistan, and after protracted negotiations with them, decided to claim and enforce their right of ownership and control of that most cherished and universally prized Bahá’í possession, the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Ishqábád...
To these measures which the State, in the free exercise of its legitimate rights, has chosen to enforce, and with which the Bahá’ís, as befits their position as loyal and law-abiding citizens, have complied, others have followed which though of a different character are none the less grievously affecting our beloved Cause. In Baku, the seat of the Soviet Republic of Caucasus, as well as in Ganjih and other neighboring towns, state orders, orally and in writing, have been officially communicated to the Bahá’í Assemblies and individual believers, suspending all meetings, commemoration gatherings and festivals, suppressing the committees of all Bahá’í local and national Spiritual Assemblies, prohibiting the raising of funds and the transmission of financial contributions to any center within or without Soviet jurisdiction, requiring the right of full and frequent inspection of the deliberations, decisions, plans and action of the Bahá’í Assemblies, dissolving young men’s clubs and children’s organizations, imposing a strict censorship on all correspondence to and from Bahá’í Assemblies, directing a minute investigation of Assemblies’ papers and documents, suspending all Bahá’í periodicals, bulletins and magazines, and requiring the deportation of leading personalities in the Cause whether as public teachers and speakers or officers of Bahá’í Assemblies...
To all these the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh have with feelings of burning agony and heroic fortitude unanimously and unreservedly submitted, ever mindful of the guiding principles of Bahá’í conduct that in connection with their administrative activities, no matter how grievously interference with them might affect the course of the extension of the Movement, and the suspension of which does not constitute in itself a departure from the principle of loyalty to their Faith, the considered judgment and authoritative decrees issued by their responsible rulers must, if they be faithful to Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s express injunctions, be thoroughly respected and loyally obeyed...
Clinging with immovable resolution to the inviolable verities of their cherished Faith, our sorely-tried brethren in Caucasus and Turkistan have none the less, as befits law-abiding Bahá’í citizens resolved, after having exhausted every legitimate means for the alleviation of the restrictions imposed upon them, to definitely uphold and conscientiously carry out the considered judgment of their recognized government.I question why obedience to one's government, particularly in terms of disestablishing the Bahá’í administrative hierarchy and halting teaching activities, was readily acquiesced to in the past in the Soviet Union but resisted in more modern times in Iran and Yemen.
Repercussions of the Chicago Temple are felt everywhere, and the same is becoming increasingly true of the Shrine. One single edifice, raised to the glory of Bahá'u'lláh, shines like a beacon and attracts the hearts of the people; no doubt many seeds are sown just through the act of people visiting these edifices - seeds which in the future will germinate. It is because of this that he is very eager to have the Australian one commenced as soon as circumstances permit.I question the degree to which stories of Bahá’í persecution are used to generate media attention.
the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power...will the Universal House of Justice attain the plenitude of its power, and exercise, as the supreme organ of the Bahá’í Commonwealth, all the rights, the duties, and responsibilities incumbent upon the world’s future super-state.
Progress of the Mount Carmel Project Fund 12 SEPTEMBER 1994
To all National Spiritual Assemblies
Dear Bahá’í Friends,
189.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to inform you of the progress being made towards raising the US$74,000,000 called for in contributions to the Mount Carmel Projects.
189.2 During the first year of the Three Year Plan, as a result of the self-sacrificing efforts of the friends throughout the world, a total of almost sixteen million dollars was contributed to the Arc Projects Fund, equivalent to nearly 1,800 units of nine thousand dollars each. During the course of the year the volume of contributions grew at a progressively increasing rate, showing the friends' eager response to the letter of 31 October 1993 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in which mention was made of units of $9,000.
189.3 A total of over $7,500,000 was contributed during the three months of February through April 1994. If the friends can maintain this level of devoted sacrifice during the remaining two years of the Plan, they will triumphantly raise the fifty-eight million dollars which remain to be provided to meet the goal.
189.4 The rate of contributions dropped considerably in the months of May and June, to only just over 40% of the needed monthly average. However, the early months of an administrative year often show a lower level of contributions, and it is the ardent prayer of the Universal House of Justice that the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in every land will keep the high importance and urgency of this great undertaking always in their thoughts and prayers, and will exert every effort to ensure that the goal is met and there will be no cause for a halt in the work.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
DEPARTMENT OF THE SECRETARIAT
14 September 1932
Dear Dr. Muhlschlegel:
I am in receipt of your letter dated September 4th 1932. Regarding your question on the subject of holding the usual festivals during this year when we are mourning the loss of the Greatest Holy Leaf; inasmuch as Shoghi Effendi has not yet returned from his summer vacations I cannot put your question to him and answer you immediately. The friends in America, however, who were confronted with the same problem, put to him the same question by telegram. I could, therefore, do no better than send you a copy of Shoghi Effendi's answer. I believe it will give you the necessary guidance in solving your problem. His cable runs as follows:
Bahá'í New York festive anniversaries should be suspended administrative gatherings including nineteen day feasts should be held with utmost simplicity....
To the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Germany, Italy and Switzerland
September 14, 1961
Dear Bahá'í Friends:
As you know, for the last two years the Faith has been under attack in Turkey, starting with the arrest of a number of believers in Ankara during Naw-Rúz of 1959, when the police imprisoned members of the Local Spiritual Assembly. This incident received wide publicity in the press. Subsequently the friends were released from prison, but a court case was brought against the Bahá'ís by the public prosecutor, who claimed that the Faith was a "Tarighat", one of those sects of lslám whose rituals, practices and forms of worship are forbidden by the law of the country.
Since then this matter has been the subject of lengthy litigation, with the Bahá'ís endeavouring to prove and establish the status of the Faith as an independent world religion, and the prosecuting authorities endeavouring to classify it as a forbidden sect of lslám.
The case is now to go to the high court on appeal, and the National Spiritual Assembly of Turkey has informed us that they believe that representations to the Turkish Ambassador in your respective countries' would be helpful, as these diplomatic representatives will then inform their government of these visits and the proofs which representatives of your Assembly will present showing the completely independent character of the Faith, as well as its world-wide acceptance as a universal religion completely dissociated from Islám or any other revealed religion.
In order that you may thoroughly understand the background of this situation, we share with you the following summary of the development of the case against the Faith in Turkey.
Following the Turkish revolution in the 1920's, church and state were separated, but the major world religions, including the four recognized schools of thought of Sunni lslám-Maliki, Hanbali, Shafei and Hanafi-were left free to follow their beliefs and practices. However, according to Article 163 of the Turkish Criminal Code, the practice of every form of "Tarighat" was forbidden, and those who indulged in the forbidden rituals and practices of these Muslim sects were subject to severe punishment. Among these "Tarighat" are included the Naghshbandi, Molvai, Jalali and Refai sects. The Government of modem Turkey felt that the rituals and practices of these sects of Islam were out of place in modern life and harmful to the people; therefore they were forbidden.
It is clear that identification of the Faith with these forbidden sects would be a very bad blow for the Cause and conversely, if a high court of appeal in a Muslim country were to recognize the independent character of the Faith, it would be a very significant victory for the Cause, not only in Turkey, but throughout the East.
The original arrest of the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Ankara and the court case which followed resulted in wide publicity for the Cause, and most of the leading newspapers in the country opposed the action of the public prosecutor, and declared that the Faith was an independent religion. At that time many documents were sent to Turkey from the World Centre and from various National Assemblies to establish and prove the independent character of the Cause. The court requested three experts in comparative religion to study the matter and give their opinion. Two of the three experts appointed expressed the view that the Bahá'í Faith was an independent religion, and one claimed that it was a sect of Islam. After receiving this report, the court then appointed three outstanding religious scholars to review all aspects of the question and advise the court of their views. All three of these scholars agreed in a finding that the Faith was an independent religion, and sent a documented statement containing authenticated proofs to the court on January 17, 1961. In this historic document the panel of experts proved that the Cause has nothing to do with "Tarighat" or forbidden sects of Islam, and that it is an independent religion comparable to Islam and Christianity.
After this document was submitted to the court, everyone was certain that the Court would issue its decree in accordance with the findings of these experts. However, the judges chose to disregard these findings entirely, and suddenly on July 15, 1961, declared that the Bahá'í Faith was a "Tarighat". Following this unexpected decision, the Bahá'ís of Ankara were forgiven, on the grounds that their gathering constituted a criminal case and under the general amnesty provisions of the law they could be released, that is, the case against them dropped. The court did say, however, that its decision could be appealed.
The National Spiritual Assembly of Turkey has decided to make a strong appeal to the higher court, and as indicated previously, this National Assembly believes that proper representations by your bodies to the Turkish Ambassadors in your respective countries will be helpful.
Therefore we request that you appoint without delay a well-qualified delegation composed of Western friends (the effect will be greater if the delegations do not include any of the Persian believers who may be residing in your respective countries) to call upon the Turkish Ambassador, explain your position as national representatives of the Bahá'í Community in your respective countries, indicate your great interest in a proper and just outcome of the pending case in Turkey, and give explanations and appropriate proofs of the independent character of the Faith and its world-wide scope as a separate revealed religion. In view of the highly nationalistic feelings of the Turkish people, particularly Turkish officials, we suggest that the representations to be made by your representatives do not in any way take the form of a protest. In other words, the approach should be a mild and friendly one, emphasizing the great interest which the Bahá'ís in your countries have in this matter.
We shall be very much interested in receiving in due course a report on the steps taken to carry out this request from the National Assembly of Turkey. We shall offer ardent prayers in the holy Shrines that all of these efforts will be divinely guided and assisted and that another great victory for the Faith may be won.
1 It is specifically requested that in the case of the Italo-Swiss National Assembly, the contact be made with the Turkish Ambassador in Switzerland. We do not believe that a visit to the Ambassador in Italy would be advisable at this time.
With warm Bahá'í love,
In the service of the beloved Guardian,
HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
Purification of Haram-i-AqdasThe "purification" is described in pages 248 and 249 of The Bahá'í World: Volume 13 (1954-1963)...
Announce to Hands and all National Assemblies that following the loss of the appeal to the Supreme Court, the Government expropriation order has been implemented, resulting in the complete evacuation of the remnant of Covenant-breakers and the transfer of all their belongings from the precincts of the Most Holy Shrine, and the purification, after six long decades, of the Haram-i-Aqdas from every trace of their contamination. Measures under way to effect transfer of title deeds of the evacuated property to the triumphant Bahá'í community.
[Cablegram, September 6, 1957]
In April, 1957 Shoghi Effendi announced to the Bahá'í world that an expropriation order relating to the "entire property owned by Covenant-breakers within the Haram-i-Aqdas" had been issued by the Treasury Department of the Government of Israel and published in the Israel Official Gazette. Behinds this lay a hard and protracted struggle, waged in the Guardian's name by Leroy Ioas, Hand of the Cause in Haifa and Secretary-General of the International Bahá'í Council. An appeal against the appropriation order was made by the Covenant-breakers to Israel's Supreme Court, but on June 3, 1957 Shoghi Effendi cabled the triumphant news that the order had been upheld, "enabling the civil authorities to enforce the original decision and proceed with the eviction of the wretched remnants of the once redoubtable adversaries . . ." On September 6, 1957 a further cable announced their "complete evacuation . . . and the purification . . . of the Haram-i-Aqdas from every trace of their contamination." At long last the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world had been cleansed and the way opened to fulfill, in future decades, the Guardian's vision for the construction of a "stately and befitting Mausoleum designed to enshrine the holiest Dust the earth ever received into its bosom."It should be noted that in this text Shoghi Effendi is called "the Sign of God on earth," which is what the term "Ayatollah" means.
It had been Shoghi Effendi's wish to direct in person the razing of the buildings evacuated by the enemies of the Cause, but this was not to be, and it fell to the Hands of the Cause in Haifa to carry out this task. It was their first endeavour, and by December, 1957 no trace of the buildings was left. They then proceeded to enlarge the gardens of the Haram-i-Aqdas according to the Guardian's plan, covering the site of the buildings entirely, and raising the third terrace he had planned toward the east, above the two he himself had completed. To the east of the Mansion a long strip of garden was planted, comprising four thousand square metres, also part of the Guardian's plan.
The Hands succeeded, moreover, in effecting the Guardian's purpose to transfer the title deeds of this evacuated property "to the triumphant Bahá'í community." In a deed of sale from the State of Israel, thirteen separate titles for the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh , the Mansion of Bahjí, and all the newly-acquired properties were transferred to the name of the Israel Branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States.
Thus did the Sign of God on earth achieve ascendancy in his last hours, glorifying his ministry, and fulfilling one stage of his own promise for the World Centre of the Faith: "Resistlessly will this Divine institution flourish and expand, however fierce the animosity which its future enemies may evince, until the full measure of its splendour will have been disclosed before the eyes of all mankind."
26 Purification of the Most Holy Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, the Qiblih of the Bahá'í World 11 NOVEMBER 1965
To all National Spiritual Assemblies
26.1 ANNOUNCE BAHA'I WORLD REMOVAL FROM IMMEDIATE PRECINCTS HOLY SHRINE BAHA'U'LLAH REMAINS MIRZA DIYA'U'LLAH YOUNGER BROTHER MIRZA MUHAMMAD ALI HIS ACCOMPLICE IN EFFORTS SUBVERT FOUNDATIONS COVENANT GOD SOON AFTER ASCENSION BAHA'U'LLAH. THIS FINAL STEP IN PROCESS PURIFICATION SACRED INTERNATIONAL ENDOWMENTS FAITH IN BAHJI FROM PAST CONTAMINATION WAS PROVIDENTIALLY UNDERTAKEN UPON REQUEST FAMILY OLD COVENANT BREAKERS A PROCESS WHOSE INITIAL STAGE WAS FULFILLED BY ABDU'L-BAHA WHICH GATHERED MOMENTUM EARLY YEARS BELOVED GUARDIAN'S MINISTRY THROUGH EVACUATION MANSION ATTAINED CLIMAX THROUGH PURIFICATION HARAM-I-AQDAS AND NOW CONSUMMATED THROUGH CLEANSING INNER SANCTUARY MOST HALLOWED SHRINE QIBLIH Bahá'í WORLD PRESAGING EVENTUAL CONSTRUCTION BEFITTING MAUSOLEUM AS ANTICIPATED BELOVED SIGN GOD ON EARTH.
UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
According to the memoirs of Baha’s son Mirza Badiullah surnamed the Most Luminous Branch (غصن انور) by Baha: One year after Baha’s death, Nabil visited Badiullah in Haifa. He was distressed. Nabil said to Badiullah: “I can no longer stay at Acre. The situation there has deteriorated. By dint of violence, abusive language and cursing, one has to act against his own faith, has to regard and hold the Most Mighty Branch [Ghusn-i Azam, i.e. Abdul Baha Abbas] superior in station to the Blessed Beauty [Janab-i Mubarak, i.e. Baha] has to write corrupted [versions of] all the holly writings and epistles, and has to vilify and excommunicate [Baha’s] sons, [Baha’s] words and [Baha’s] family [i.e. all the members of Baha’s household in opposition to Abdul Baha Abbas], failing which one is branded as covenant-breaker [Naqiz] or Vacillator [Mutezalzil, i.e. opposed to Abdul Baha Abbas and partisan of Muhammad Ali] and becomes the object of untold calumnies and falsehoods.” Nabil requested Badiullah to find him a suitable room at the foot of Mount Carmel. He went back to Acre to fetch his things. Nothing was heard of him for sometime. Later “limbs of his body and his clothing” were discovered near the see shores at Acre. These were collated together and buried. Abdul Baha Abbas “shed crocodile tears” during the burial service of Nabil, “although he was exceedingly annoyed with him.”From the Encyclopædia Iranica article titled "NABIL-E AʿẒAM ZARANDI, MOLLĀ MOḤAMMAD"...
NABIL-E AʿẒAM ZARANDI, MOLLĀ MOḤAMMAD (ملّا محمد نبیل اعظم زرندی), Persian Bahai poet, teacher, and chronicler of Babi history (b. Zarand, 18 Ṣafar 1247/29 July 1831; d. ʿAkkā, Palestine, 10 Ṣafar 1310/3 September 1892).
Nabil converted to Babism around 1847 and in 1858 accepted the faith of Bahāʾ-Allāh. Born into a humble family in Zarand, he received traditional education in his childhood and worked as a shepherd in his youth, when he converted to Babism (Zarandi, p. 434). Later in his life, he studied the writings of the Bāb and became well versed in both Islamic and Bahai literature.
During his years as a Babi, Nabil traveled to Lorestan, Kermanshah, Tehran, and Khorasan; he met with the Babis and Babi leaders in those provinces to foster the Babi ideology and inspire the believers to arise, consolidate, and expand the new Babi communities. He also transcribed and distributed Babi literature among the rank and file of the society to promote the Babi faith. He was jailed in Sāva for four months because of his pro-Babi activities. In September 1854, he set out for Baghdad and Karbala, where he stayed until October 1856. During late 1856 to July 1858, he traveled to Hamadan, his hometown Zarand, and many major Babi communities in the capital province and returned to Baghdad on 19 July 1858 (Rafati, pp. 30-31).
Nabil was one of the Babi leaders who claimed to be the promised messianic figure according to the Bāb’s prophecies, but he withdrew his claim when he recognized Bahāʾ-Allāh’s status as the fulfillment of the Bāb’s predictions and the leader of the Babis (Taherzadeh, p. 202). Nabil became one of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s earliest followers, in 1858 in Baghdad.
Nabil’s life as a Bahai is summed up in his extensive travels throughout Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the Caucasus, Egypt, and Palestine. In his early travels as a Bahai, he met with the Babi communities to invite them to the Bahai faith; he attracted the Babi leaders to the recognition of Bahāʾ-Allāh as the fulfillment of the Bāb’s prophecies concerning the promised messianic figure and helped reinforce the belief of the new Bahais in the teachings and principles that were being advanced by Bahāʾ-Allāh. Through these activities, Nabil turned into an outstanding teacher, defender, and promulgator of the Bahai faith.
While Nabil was in Khorasan in spring 1866, at his suggestion, the greeting Allāho abhā (God is the most glorious) was adopted by the followers of Bahāʾ-Allāh, replacing the old salutation of Allāho Akbar (God is the greatest), which was common among the Babis (Shoghi Effendi, p. 176). This was a significant action that gave group identity to the Bahais and was a sign of their independence from the Babis and the Azalis, a Bābi faction that considered Mirzā Yaḥyā Ṣobḥ-e Azal (d. 1912) as the legitimate successor to the Bāb.
Nabil was the first Bahai to perform pilgrimage (ḥajj) to the house of the Bāb in Shiraz in fall 1866, in accordance with the rites prescribed in the Surat al-ḥajj revealed by Bahāʾ-Allāh. He also went to Baghdad and performed the pilgrimage to the House of Bahāʾ-Allāh in spring 1867, according to another sura witten by Bahāʾ-Allāh for that purpose (Rafati, p. 36). Nabil’s pilgrimage to those two houses marked the inception of pilgrimage laws ordained by Bahāʾ-Allāh later in his Ketāb-e aqdas (Shoghi Effendi, pp. 176-77).
Another historic mission undertaken by Nabil under Bahāʾ-Allāh’s instruction was his travel to Egypt to appeal to the officials for the release of several Bahais who had been imprisoned in Cairo at the instigation of their enemies (Shoghi Effendi, p. 178). Nabil’s mission resulted in his own imprisonment for two months in Cairo in spring 1868 and then in the Alexandria jail for a few more months. After being released, Nabil traveled to Cyprus and Beirut, and then he joined Bahāʾ-Allāh’s exiled community in Acre (ʿAkkā) in late October 1869. He spent much of the last two decades of his life in Acre and its surrounding areas.
After the passing of Bahāʾ-Allāh in 1892, Nabil was chosen by ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ to prepare a text for recitation in his tomb (Shoghi Effendi, p. 222). Nabil selected four passages from Bahāʾ-Allāh’s own works and composed the text, which is known as the Ziārat-nāma (ʿAndalib 18/71, summer 1999, pp. 19-20). The impact of the passing of Bahāʾ-Allāh on Nabil was so great and inconsolable that he drowned himself in the sea at Acre circa 10 Ṣafar 1310/3 September 1892. He is buried in the Acre cemetery.
Nabil was the recipient of a number of Bahāʾ-Allāh’s best-known works, including Surat al-dam (1866), Surat al-ḥajj, for the house of the Bāb in Shiraz (1866), and Surat al-ḥajj, for the house of Bahāʾ-Allāh in Baghdad (1867).
When Shoghi Effendi (d. 1957) designated nineteen prominent early Bahais as the “Apostles [Ḥawāriyun] of Bahāʾ-Allāh,” Nabil was one of them (The Baháʾí World III, pp. 80-81). The title signifies the recognition of distinguished services that those nineteen loyal and devoted Persian Bahais have rendered to their faith.
Nabil’s works are in poetry and prose. He was a gifted, prolific poet, who devoted most of his poetry to the historical events in the Babi and Bahai faiths. His most famous poem in couplet form (maṯnawi) about the history of the Bahai faith was published as Maṯnawi-e Nabil Zarandi in Cairo in 1924 in 65 pages and reprinted in Langenhain in 1995. In this maṯnawi he describes major historical events from the early days of the Babi movement to the year 1869. His second maṯnawi, in 666 verses, deals with Bahāʾ-Allāh’s banishment from Edirne to Acre. Other historical poetry of Nabil consists of his maṯnawi titled “Maṯnawi-e weṣāl wa hejr” in 175 verses (pub. in Rafati, 2014, Chap. 6; Ḏokāʾi, p. 416) and his maṯnawi on the life of Āqā Moḥammad Nabil Akbar Qāʾeni in 303 verses (Ḵušahā-i az ḵarman-e adab wa honar 13, pp. 108-16). In addition to those maṯnawis, Nabil left behind a great collection of poetry in different forms, only a fraction of which has been published.
Nabil’s works in prose include a treatise on the Babi-Bahai calendar, a treatise on Bahai inheritance laws (Fāżel Māzandarāni, IV pp. 1, 214), and his account on the event of the passing of Bahāʾ-Allāh (Nabil Zarandi, Maṯnawi-e Nabil Zarandi, Langenhain, 1995, pp. 67-108). But Nabil’s most celebrated work is Maṭāleʿ al-anwār, an extensive historical narrative of the Babi faith, written in Acre in 1888-90, which was edited and translated into English by Shoghi Effendi as The Dawn-Breakers. The work was first published in the United States in 1932.
Maṭāleʿ al-anwār, the most authentic and the main primary source on the early history of the Babi movement in Iran, is regarded by the Bahais as the definitive account of the Bāb’s dispensation. The work has been translated into many languages, and it has played a major role in familiarizing the Bahais around the world with the historical background of their faith and helping them understand its link to the socio-religious climate of the Persian society in the early days of its development. The original Persian manuscript of Maṭāleʿ al-anwār, preserved at the International Bahai Archives in Haifa, comprises 1,014 pages of 22-24 lines.
ʿAbd-al-Bahāʾ, Memorials of the Faithful, tr. and annotated Marzieh Gail, Wilmette, 1971, pp. 32-36.
Abu’l-Qāsem Afnān, Ḵušahā-i az ḵarman-e adab wa honar 7, 1996, pp. 58-75.
Bahāʾ-Allāh, Āṯār-e qalam-e aʿlā, Tehran, 1996, IV, pp. 59-67, 75-99.
The Baháʾí World: A Biennial International Record III, New York, 1928-30.
H. M. Balyuzi, Baháulláh the King of Glory, Oxford, 1991 (see index).
Idem, Materials for the Study of the Babí Religion, Cambridge, 1918, pp. 351-57. Neʿmat-Allāh Ḏokāʾi Bayżāʾi, Taḏkera-ye šoʿarā-ye qarn-e awwal-e Bahāʾi,” 4 vols., Tehran, 1970-73, III, pp. 410-35.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid Ešrāq Ḵāvari, Tasbiḥ wa taḥlil, Tehran, 1973, pp. 77-90.
Fāżel Māzandarāni, Amr wa ḵalq, Langenhain, 1986.
Hušang Goharriz, Ḥawāriyun-e Ḥażrat-e Bahāʾ-Allāh, New Delhi, 2001, pp. 176-91.
Ḵušahā-i az ḵarman-e adab wa honar 7, 1996, pp. 293-98.
Moojan Momen, “The Apostles of Bahāʾ-Āllāh” in H. M. Balyuzi, Eminent Baháís in the Time of Baháulláh: With Some Historical Background, Oxford, 1985.
Mollā Moḥammad Nabil Zarandi, Maṭāleʿ al-anwār: Tāriḵ-e Nabil Zarandi, ed. and tr. Shoghi Effendi, as The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Baháʾí Revelation, Wilmette, 1974, pp. 433-45.
Ṣadri Nawwābzāda Ardakāni, “Maṭāleb-i dr bāra-ye tāriḵ-e- Nabil Zarandi,” Moṭālaʿa-ye maʿāref-e Bahāʾi, Tehran, 1977.
Payām-e Bahāʾi, no. 126, May 1990, pp. 13-16.
Vahid Rafati, “Nabíl-e-Aʿẓam Zarandí,” Ḵušahā-i az ḵarman-e adab wa Honar 7, 1996, pp. 29-57. Idem, “Tāriḵ-e Nabil Zarandi,” ibid, pp. 76-87. Idem, “Maṯnawi-e Nabil-e Aʿẓam
Zarandi: Dar šarḥ-e ḥālāt-e Janāb Āqā Moḥammad Nabil Akbar Qāʾeni,” Ḵušahā-i az ḵarman-e adab wa honar 13, 2002, pp. 107-19. Idem, ed., Yād-nāma-ye Ešrāq Ḵāvari / Remembrance of Ishráq Khávarí, Madrid, 2014.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, Wilmette, 1999.
Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahaullah, Oxford, 1974, pp. 202-6.
Originally Published: June 29, 2016
Last Updated: June 29, 2016
Cite this entry:
Vahid Rafati, “NABIL-E AʿẒAM ZARANDI, MOLLĀ MOḤAMMAD,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/nabil-zarandi