Will and Testament
By Mohammed Ali Bahai
This is the spiritual will and testament of Baha’u’llah’s son Mohammed Ali Bahai, who passed away on December 10, 1937 at the age of 84— approximately 16 years after the passing of his elder brother, ‘Ab- du’l- Baha. Mr. Bahai was the leader of the Unitarian Bahá'í community and, according to the belief of his supporters, the legitimate successor of‘Abdu’l-Baha based on his appointment in Baha’u’llah’s will.
The will of Mohammed Ali Bahai has never before been made available to the public. It was translated into English by his son Shua Ullah, who included it in his book manuscript. Some long paragraphs have been divided and section headings have been added by this editor.
Mr. Bahai’s last message to the world is strikingly different in tone than the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, containing no direct attacks on his late brother’s character and closing with a prayer for Bahá'ís to tolerate each other’s differences of opinion rather than letting these disagreements become a cause of hatred. The author does, however, criticize some aspects of Bahá'í belief as it had developed under ‘Abdu’l- Baha, thus making the case that Baha’u’llah’s first successor erred in his interpretation of the religion.
This document is, more than anything else, a theological treatise and summary of Mohammed Ali Effendi’s view of the Bahá'í Faith. In many ways it is a counterpoint or alternative vision of Bahá'ísm based not on a supposedly infallible succession of divinely inspired authority, as ‘Abdu’l-Baha argued for and implemented through his creation of the institution of Guardianship in his will, but instead on reverence for Baha’u’llah as the only source of divine revelation in the present historical era. Mr. Bahai did not appoint a successor, and claimed that the idea of a "Guardian” for God’s cause was unnecessary and contrary to Baha’u’llah’s teachings. He mentioned the House of Justice as the appropriate administrative authority for the Bahá'í community, but rejected the notion that any religious leadership or institution is in any way infallible—reserving this lofty station of command for the Manifestation of God alone. Overall, Mohammed Ali Bahai presents a relatively simple vision of the Bahá'í Faith, based on obeying the scriptures of Baha’u’llah and rejecting any further claims of divine inspiration for the next one thousand years, and expresses concern that the “imagination” of religious leaders who desire excessive authority can “cause endless harm.”
The Oneness of God, the Manifestations and Religions
The book of Revelation [i.e. all scripture], from the beginning to the end, is adorned with the Oneness of God, and what has been revealed by the Supreme Pen in each cycle [of history], although different in tongue, confesses as to His Oneness and Singleness.
By gazing with the eyes of discernment, in the book of the Creation [i.e. the physical world], we will observe the signs of His might and the banners of His greatness apparent and exalted everywhere. The great examples in creation testify as to the Oneness of the unequal Creator, and direct the intellectual people to the knowledge of the Eternal Being. Hatef (the poet) said well, “If you open the heart of each atom, You will find a sun hidden in the bosom.” Also Saadi said, “The green leaves of the trees, to the intellectual observer, Each leaf is a booklet, glorifying the Creator.”
Each impression in the world of existence guides to the impresser, and each craft directs the learned to the knowledge of the craftsman. The beauty of the garden shows the capability of the gardener, and the firmness of the building proves the power of the builder. If you see a finger-ring, you will speak of a jeweler, and if you look at a chair, you will know of a carpenter. It is said that a philosopher passed by an aged woman, who was busy at her spinning-wheel, and asked: “What proofs have you of the existence of the Creator?” The aged woman in reply, silently detached her hands; the wheel stopped; then she commenced to work. Indeed by her action, she proved the existence of the Creator without a murmur.
There is nothing in the world of existence without a cause, and as existence varies the cause varies too; therefore we are in need of the cause of all causes, to open the gate of knowledge and tranquility to the people of intellect. That first cause and remote goal, which is called by some the Lord of Lords, the Light of Lights, the God of Gods, and by others described as Nature, is a reality which is above the grasp of the human mind, and an entity which is beyond the comprehension of the intellect.
This Reality could not be known but by His traces and will not be understood but by His deeds. The greatest of His traces and the most important gifts of His knowledge are His Manifestations who have appeared in human garments at various times and places. Each time they spoke in a new tongue, and although they used different languages, yet the revelations were always the same. They varied in forms and customs, but always had the same effulgence and appeared in the different rising places with one Light.
The Indians worship Him according to their knowledge and customs, the Chinese have other explanations, the Parsees call Him Aba- dian, the Jews have other names for Him, the Christians sing a different song in His praise, and the Muslims have other beliefs. If we study this point justly and take into consideration the [underlying] realities, the changes of the phrases [i.e. religious terminology] and the variety of the
interpretations will not prevent us from the knowledge of the original Reality. Hakim Sanai, regarding this object said, “If you search for a language for the words of God, no matter which, Hebrew or Assyrian; If you desire a place for God, no matter where, Jabulqa or Jabulsa?”
His Holiness Adam, whom we call the father of mankind, preached to his human children the Oneness of God. He taught them unity, equality, good morals and kind manners. His Holiness Noah, whom we know as the owner of the Ark, saved humanity, in the ark of knowledge and belief, from the deluge of ignorance and disbelief. His Holiness Abraham, whom we call the conqueror of Nimrod, saved himself and his fellow beings from the erring polytheists, exchanging the fire of the imagination and the superstition of Nimrod, and guided them to the praise and commemoration of the reality of God. His Holiness Moses annihilated the misguided followers of Pharaoh with the might of the Book of Law [i.e. the Torah], and with extreme humbleness and poverty fed the seekers of truth with the manna and quail of knowledge. His Holiness Jesus destroyed the cross of ignorance and temptation with the glorious and luminous Temple of guidance.
Then arrived the time of the Kaaba of the free and the Qibla of the just (i.e. Muhammad); the hand of power worked wonderfully and the sun of Reality shone with frill light. He broke the idols, severed the connections, and in the book of Revelation and Creation left nothing but the knowledge and belief in the Oneness and the Glory of the Great and Only One [i.e. God], Although he was invested with great power, glory, and might, yet he called himself only a servant, a messenger and a member of the human family. Indeed his action was a lesson to mankind: that they might know their limitations and not exceed their position of servitude (towards God).
But alas! that some (leadership-seekers) took advantage of God’s effulgence, and blow the trumpet of “It is I, and there is no one else beside me,” binding the unfortunate masses with the strong chains of restrictions. In the name of Truth, they hold meetings, and enjoy earthly pleasures, while they know Him not. The [religious] leaders are enjoying their leadership and predominance, and the followers are dazed with vanishing fancies and vain imaginations, considering themselves the fortunate saved and the rest of humanity condemned, but they do not realize that their acts and deeds are repudiated by the Book, precepts, commandments, and laws [of true religion].
The Bab, the Forerunner
When the fixed time elapsed and the proper era drew nigh, the Temple of light and glory in the name of the one prophesied in Hijaz (Arabia) [by the Prophet Muhammad] appeared and unveiled himself in Shiraz (Iran). The personage called the Qa’im and named the Mahdi (i.e. the Bab) came and said, “O thou who art in expectation, I am your promised one, the object of the friends and the beloved of the faithful.”
He produced what the other Manifestations of Reality had produced, and explained what they had explained. Those who were earnestly and righteously seeking after the Truth investigated his claim and accepted his mission, and their hearts were illumined with the light of the Sun of Reality.
That Light of Truth, although he possessed of greatness, perfection, might and power, yet he called himself a Forerunner and preached the glad-tidings of the arrival of a most Perfect Temple, and a most glorious one [i.e. Baha’u’llah], For great wisdom beyond our capacity he concealed the name [of the new Manifestation] and called Him “He Whom God Shall Manifest.” He explained [his teachings] in detail and opened the gates of reality, but the selfish [Muslim] leaders rose in enmity, caused disturbances, enabled his assassination, and crucified him in a public square.
Although the evidence showing the truth of [the Bab’s] claims was numerous, the signs [i.e. divine proofs] of his cause countless, and his messages and revelations beyond [worldly] explanation, [most compelling is] the achievement at the time of the martyrdom: An unusual incident occurred, and that is, from the rifles of a detachment of eight hundred soldiers, not a bullet touched him, and his illumined temple was not harmed. Even with this unusual occurrence, they did not repent; they called another detachment and with extreme cruelty sent that pure soul and enlightened personage to martyrdom—thinking that by this dreadful injustice and hideous act, both the noble and the humble (i.e. the people) will disregard the cause of God, repudiate the truth and uphold falsehood.
They were unaware of the fact that the Hand of Might is open and the Lamp of Knowledge is [still] giving light. They were rejoicing in their act of injustice and desired to extinguish the Lamp of Knowledge.
Baha’u’llah, the Fulfiller
Suddenly the blessed verse (in the Qur’an), “God is reluctant unless He completes His Light” was fulfilled and the great Sun of Reality (Baha’u’llah) made His appearance in Iraq, blessing the seekers with His effulgence. The appointed day arrived and the light of knowledge appeared in the hearts, and its illumination became beyond explanation.
The prophecies of the Forerunner were fulfilled, as he said, “In the ninth year ye shall be blessed with meeting God.”
Also what the noble [Shaykh Ahmad] Ahsa’i had said became evident: “Ye shall hear His news badhin (i.e. after a while).’’The year 69 (i.e. 1269 A.H. [1853 A.D.]) was equal to the words bad bin (in the Arabic Abjad system of numerology), and both prophecies were fulfilled together. He Whom God Shall Manifest, mentioned in the Bayan (the book of the Bab) that He shall appear in the day of resurrection of the Furqan (Qur’an), lifted the veil from His glorious face. But this appearance was only special [i.e. private, restricted to his close companions], and in the year 80 (1280 A.H [1863 A.D.]) He made His universal appearance. Tablets and epistles were uttered and proofs produced.
The Supreme Pen, moving with the fingers of the Greatest Name [i.e. al-Abha, Baha’u’llah], worked in such a degree that His example filled the world, His Light encompassed humanity, and His secrets untied the knots of calamities. Homai, the poet, speaking of his beloved said, “There is only one resurrection, but thou, Every time that thou makest thine appearance, is a resurrection.” Although the poet is praising the visible [i.e. earthly beloved], yet this poem is in harmony with the appearance of the Manifestations of God, as in the past cycles, whenever a Manifestation appeared a resurrection took place, and the world of humanity underwent a test. Accounts and books, judgment and rewards, heaven and hell, recompense and penalty all were settled through His appearance.
O friends! those of you who are assembled under the canopy of His utterances and are following God, Glory be to Him: In the Book of Aqdas He said that every person should write a will, confessing the Oneness of God; therefore this humble servant, obeying His commands, will write these few words, explaining in brief some of the events, and hope that they may meet with the approval of the friends. In this glorious century when the great sun of Truth and Reality illumined the horizon of the universe, the Supreme Pen (of Baha’u’llah) was always moving. For years, with the language of love and kindness, He directed humanity to the right path. He explained in the numerous epistles and tablets the station of the Creator and the position of the creatures: so that the people may know their own limitations, that they may not go beyond that which has been ordained by Him. His blessed appearance was the Greatest Manifestation and the axis of the circle of all the Manifestations. In the Book of the Prophets of the children of Israel, He is called God the Powerful, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace; in the New Testament, the Lord, the Comforter, and the Spirit of Truth;in the Qur’an the Manifestation of God is clearly explained, and in the Bayan as He Who Shall Appear and Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest. Sons and Successors of Baha’u’llah Are Not His Equal O spiritual brothers: Sanctify such a Promised One from a like or an equal. Study what has been revealed by Him, and according to His revelations, confess His Oneness and ennoble His Resplendent Singleness.
All else beside Him are His servants, and under the shadow of His words. In a tablet He said:
My outward speaketh to My innermost, and My innermost to my outward, that there is no one in the Kingdom besides Me, but the people are in deep ignorance. Verily the Branches (sons), who are branched from the Tree [i.e. Baha’u’llah], are My fingerposts amidst My creatures, and My fragrance between heaven and earth.
Do ye see a partner or an equal to God, your Lord? By the Lord of the worlds, No: Therefore speak not that which God hath not permitted you; fear the Merciful and be of those who reason.
In this blessed revelation, [Baha’u’llah] has called the branches (sons) His fingerposts and His fragrances, and sanctified Himself from a partner or an equal, and prohibited us from uttering a word which He did not command.
[Regarding] the tavajjoh (i.e. turn your face) revealed in the blessed Book of My Covenant (i.e. the Will of Baha’u’llah) The object of the same is unity in the service of the cause and the promulgation of the words of God. The leadership and the following [of Baha’u’llah’s successor] are both for this exalted object; do not consider it a servitude and do not appoint a partner for God. In the Qur’an [God] says, “If in the heaven and the earth, beside God, were other gods, doubtless both (heaven and earth) would have become disordered.”
The great glory in each appearance [i.e. each dispensation of divine revelation] belongs to the Manifestation of God, and all else besides Him are under His shadow. The exalted station of Oneness and the Great Infallibility are the attributes of that sanctified Manifestation. His command is the command of God, obedience to Him is obedience to God, and disobedience to Him is rebellion against God. Through Him we know God, and from Him we hear the commands of that Unseen Entity and the Hidden Mystery. He is the Dawning-place of Divine inspiration, the Origin of Divine guidance and the Mine of [God’s] commands and laws.
By knowing Him, gaining the knowledge of His station and confessing His Oneness, we must obey His commands and accept all His utterances to be from God. Knowledge without obedience is fruitless and obedience without knowledge is useless, and neither one could be accepted without the other, as has been revealed by the Supreme Pen in the beginning of the Book of Aqdas.
Furthermore we must consider [the Manifestation of God], in all His stations and conditions, free from an equal or a like. The revelations [of scriptures] are His specialty and belong to no one else beside Him. What has been uttered by His tongue and revealed by His Supreme Pen are revelations, although they may be in the common language; and the conversation and composition of all others besides Him are the words of the creatures, though they may resemble the revelations.
What we observe in His actions and movements are signs and miracles, although they may resemble the actions of the creatures; and the actions of all else besides Him are examples of weakness, though they may appear to us great.
By this explanation I do not mean that we should accept without knowledge or obey blindly, but the object is that we must pay our tribute to God, and after knowing Him perform our duties towards Him.
Knowledge of Him cannot be attained without careful search and study.
The Incomparable Station of Baha’u’llah
After being inwardly satisfied [of the truth of the Manifestation], it is our duty to sanctify Him in all conditions, because confessing His Oneness and glorifying Him is glorification of God. Through Him we know God, and by His appearance [i.e. the theophanic nature of the Manifestation] we learn of the Unseen Entity and the Hidden Mystery.
With His aid we have received the commands and the laws of God. [God] and the Manifestation are one. He is the example of God amidst His creatures; although he appears in human garment in the world of limitation and the qualities of the creatures, He is sanctified and exalted above all limitations—like the light of the lamp, which appears with limitations, and if it does not appear with the limitations of the lamp, the limited eyes of the individuals cannot observe it. The limitations of the lamp belong to the created world, and the Eternal Light belongs to God. Gaze to the effulgence of the sun, in a clear mirror: that effulgence comes from the unlimited world [i.e. the heavens], and the clear glass is subject to the limitation of the [earthly] world.
When the Effulgence [of God] is partial and does not appear in a complete form, He is called by the names of Messenger and Prophet; and when the great Sun of Reality appears in complete effulgence, He is qualified by the name of God and Lord; and in both effulgences He is exalted above the limitations of the human creation and being. By careful study of the tablets, the chapters [surahs] and the epistles revealed by the Supreme Pen, we understand that we should expect the appearance of a Manifestation in each cycle [i.e. historical era], either with partial or complete effulgence. We must accept Him, the Manifestation of Him Who Doeth That Which He Chooseth. He is the
Judge and all else besides Him are judged. The great infallibility and the great Oneness are His special and inseparable attributes. It is incumbent upon all to obey His commands; if we think otherwise, His commands are not worthy of consideration. Because if we do not consider the informer to be infallible and free from limitations, how can we accept His information and rely upon it?
His great appearance (in this cycle) is the Complete Effulgence, adorned with the mantle of the greatest distinction according to the text of the Supreme Pen. [Baha’u’llah] is exalted and exempt from a partner, an equal, a like, or a minister. His commands could not be changed and His laws cannot be altered, and shall remain in force a thousand years. He is the axis of the Cycle of the Appearances [i.e. all the Manifestations of God in a great epoch of human history], and if a Manifestation should appear in a thousand years, He shall be speaking in His name, and shall rise in commemoration of His attributes. Also in Mustaghath (i.e. 2001 [of the Bahá'í Era], in the [Abjad] language of numerology) there shall appear One who will testify to His Oneness and Singleness.
This Complete Effulgence that we have accepted as the axis of all the Manifestations of God according to the supreme revealed text, appears only once in five thousand years and will make Himself known to His creatures, and all the previous and subsequent Manifestations circumambulate Him, belong to Him and speak of Him.
Baha’u’llah Is the Branch, the Tree, the Temple, and the Servant
The Great Unequal, in each of His stations, chose for Himself a name; hence He called Himself a Branch, at another time the Sadra (i.e. the Tree), on one occasion the Sun, and in another the Servant.
Regarding the Branch, in a sacred tablet written by His Supreme Pen to the late Mirza Mahdi Kashani, upon him be the Glory of God and His Mercy, He says:
Hear ye, O people, the voice of God from this Blessed Branch, that was planted in the Eternal Paradise by the Hand of God, the Sovereign, the Unseen and the Seen, the Invisible and the Visible. Verily, there is no God but Me, the Protector, the Self- Subsisting.
And in another tablet by His Supreme Pen, He says:
Say, by God! We have already bestowed on the existence, also on the subsistents [i.e. God’s creatures], from the mercy that encompassed the entire universe, that the great favor of this justice be conferred on all the worlds. He who wisheth may hear the melodies of the birds of the Throne on this Branch that hath risen in truth and hath encompassed the existence with a power known to be the Truth.
And in the Surah of the Branch, revealed in Adrianople, He says: “and hath branched from the Eternal Tree, this Sanctified Resplendent Temple, the Holy Branch; blessed is he who hath sought shelter under His shade, and was of those who are reclined (contented).”
The Great Oneness [i.e. God] has called by the name of “the Branch” every Temple [i.e. human being] that has been destined by Him to be the recipient of His Effulgence. Therefore the headings of many of the tablets were revealed thus: “He is the Warbler on the Branches,” “He is the Singer on the Branches,” and likewise, meaning that the Exalted,
Incomprehensible and Unseen [God] is singing on the Branches of the Eternal Tree, which are the Temples of the Manifestation of His commands and the Rising-place of His revelations. Similarly, the Risingplace of His commands in each epoch and every era spoke of Him and delivered His commands to mankind.
The Great Unequal has named His Sanctified Temple “The Branch," and that Branch of Truth has built the Temple of the Lord, in the form of “The Book of the Temple,” in fulfillment of the prophecies of the prophets of yore. At the end of the Book of the Temple, He says:
Thus We have built the Temple with the hands of Might and Power, were ye of those who know. Verily this is the Temple that ye were promised in the Book seek ye His nearness. This is meet for thee, were ye of those who comprehend. Be just, O people of the earth, is this better for you, or the temple which is built with clay? Turn your faces towards Him. Thus ye were commanded by God, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting. Follow the command and be thankful to God, your Lord, for what He hath conferred upon you. Verily He is the True God; there is no God but Him, the Dis- closer of what He wisheth, by His words,“Be and it will be.’
In the above revelations He spoke of the building of the Temple, and said this is the Temple which you were promised to be built in the Book, and is not this better for you than the temple which is built with clay?
With regards to His calling Himself the Sadra (i.e. the Tree), theEternal Tree, the Blessed Tree, the Tree of Oneness, the Godly Tree, the Sun of Truth and the like: all these refer to the Origin of His Reality [i.e. God].
The words Branch and Servant refer to the Temple of His Manifestation [i.e. the human person]. The servitude which He mentions for Himself is in its essence Divinity, as has been said in the past, “Servitude is an essence, the substance of which is Divinity.” If we mention the word servitude as an attribute of anyone else beside Him, its substance will, according to the blessed text (of Baha’u’llah), remain servitude
Limitations of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Authority
At this point, it is necessary to mention certain facts, and this humble servant, in narrating them has no object but the enlightenment of the friends. What I am writing is in accord with the holy revelations, and in harmony with the words of God. Whosoever studies them justly will bear witness that I am not stating anything visionary, and I am ex plaining nothing but what I have found to be in accord with the blessed revelations.
When the waves of the Ocean of elucidation became quiet (i.e. after the ascension of Baha’u’llah), some statements were circulated which caused dissension of ideas and disturbances of thoughts (of the believers).
Now with regards to the Branch [i.e. Ghusn-i-A‘zam]: If we consider the place which has been built on Mount Carmel (i.e. the Tomb of the Bab) as the promised Temple, and we accept Ghusn-i- A'zam (‘Abdu’l-Baha) as the builder, and thus interpret in this what has been prophesied before [i.e. by the Hebrew prophets regarding the rebuilding of the Temple by the Messiah], the possessors of justice and intellect, after reading the supreme text [of Baha’u’llah] regarding the same in the Book of the
Temple, would surely consider our suppositions as worthless words and contrary to the commands of God; as He said: “This [i.e. himself and his book] is the Temple that ye were promised in the Book.”
Likewise, if we interpret the word tavajjoh (i.e. turn your face) which is revealed in the Book of My Covenant (i.e. the Will of Baha’u’llah) according to our imagination and we appoint him (i.e. ‘Abdu’l-Baha) an equal to God, and in testimonial mention the verse of ablution and if we exaggerate to the extent of calling him God Himself, how can we consider ourselves the followers of His (Baha’u’llah’s) commands? In the
Qur’an [God] says: “Obey God, obey the Messengers, and the people in command amongst you.” With all their lofty station, no one considered them (i.e. the people in command) to be a partner of God and His Messengers. It is evident that the object was to create unity between the governors and the governed in performing their service to the cause
There are three stations for tavajjoh. The first is the tavajjoh of the creatures to the Creator, which we are commanded to perform during our prayers, and many revealed tablets confirm this fact. The second is the tavajjoh of the Creator to the creatures, as has been revealed in several tablets: “Thus, We have turned Our face to thee.” The third is the tavajjoh of the creatures to the creatures, and of this last station is that which has been revealed in the Book of My Covenant: Because He (Baha’u’llah) repeatedly calls His Branches (i.e. the sons) the most noble of the creatures, and sanctifies Himself from a partner, an equal, a like, or a minister, the object [of Baha’u’llah commanding the Baha’is to “turn your face” toward Abbas Efifendi] is therefore cooperation between the followers and those higher to them [i.e. the leaders of the Baha’I community], in order to serve the cause with great unity and energy, and diffuse the light of the truth.
Likewise the words “The Branch that hath branched”: If we restrict these to one person [i.e. Abbas Effendi] and consider him equal to the Pre-Existent Root [i.e. the Manifestation of God], how can we prove that we are right? The word “branched” has been revealed on many occasions and was not confined to the Branches only, but was revealed in honor of some distinguished personages. Doubtless the only object in these revelations was to bestow His grace and mercy on His servants (mankind), as His Holiness the Messenger (i.e. Muhammad) referring to one of His believers has said: “If he had preceded me, I would have followed him, but I have preceded him, so he followed Me,” whilst there was no similarity or likeness between them. If we accept the position of “The Branch that hath branched” (i.e. 'Abdu’I-Baha) as it is [interpreted and] circulated by the tongues (of the followers), how can we consider God sanctified from a partner, an equal, , an adversary, or a like? And how can we interpret the revealed tablets regarding His Great Oneness? Because if we desire to consider two as one, He (Baha’u’llah) says, “In the Name of the Beloved of the world. This day is the day of God, and all besides Him testify as to His Pre-Existence, His Greatness and His Power... The unification is to know one as one, and sanctify Him from numbers, but not to know two as one.”
If we consider him (‘Abdu’I-Baha) a manifestation, as someone has said (referring to ‘Abdu’I-Baha), that “the great Sun of Reality disappeared from the Sanctified Temple, and has appeared in another Temple,” how could we be able to interpret and explain the clear text revealed in the Book of Aqdas and other tablets, that we should not accept him who shall put forward a claim (i.e. [divine] mission) before the completion of one thousand years? And on what grounds could we call ourselves the followers of the Great Oneness (Baha’u’llah) and His utterances?
Similarly, if a partner is appointed to the Infallibility of God, and mention of “greater” and “lesser” infallibilities is made, and anyone else besides Him is considered infallible and chosen [for such a station], how could these [doctrines] be in harmony with the holy revelations? In the Book of Ishraqat, extensive explanations regarding infallibility are revealed, in which God is considered the possessor of the Great Infallibility and the power to do what He chooses, and all else besides Him are considered to be under His command and judgment, and under the shadow of His utterances.
Also, if we consider the Expounder [i.e. the interpreter or commentator on Baha’i scripture] as one person only and restrict this station to [‘Abdu’l-Baha] alone, in the Epistle to [Varqa] in reply to a questioner [Baha’u’llah] says: “By ‘the Book’ is meant the Book of Aqdas, and by ‘the Branch that hath branched’ (is meant) a Branch.”He did not say the Great (i.e. [Ghusn-i-A‘zam] ‘Abdu’l-Baha) or the Mighty (i.e. [Ghusn-i- Akbar] Mohammed Ali), but He did designate the Book [of Aqdas], and not all the revealed tablets and surahs. Furthermore, the authenticity of explanation [or interpretation] is proved when it is in harmony with thewords of God; if what the expounder mentions is in accord with what has been revealed by God, then what he says is worthy of acceptance, otherwise it is unworthy of any consideration. The duty of the expounder is to explain the truth, and not to follow his own inclinations and make the words of God an excuse to oppress the followers, forcing them to accept his orders and fulfill his desires.
There Cannot Be a “Guardianship” of the Bahá'í Faith
Also, if we mention the Guardianship, and imagine a guardian for God, in the blessed epistle to Ali Muhammad Sarraj, [Baha’u’llah] says:
These are the days of the Manifestation and God is manifest like unto the sun in the midst of heaven, and in the courtyard of His sanctity, nothing of the vanities of the world existeth which would necessitate a guardian to divide it. And if ye say that He is in need of a guardian for His cause, verily this is an injustice on your part with regard to God, the Protector, the Eternal. For the cause is, and shall be going round Himself and shall never separate from Him. Beware lest ye create for God a minister, an equal, an adversary, a like, a guardian, a companion, ora match.
Briefly I say, whosoever studies carefully these blessed revelations will bear witness that the mere idea of a guardian [of the Bahá'í Faith] is insignificant imagination and doubtless in violation of the words of God.
Follow the Scriptures, Not the Pretensions of Religious Leaders
If we take the verse in the Book of Aqdas [about turning to the Branch] as a glad-tidings [i.e. a prophecy of the advent of a Manifestation] and consider the Book of My Covenant (i.e. the Will of Baha’u’l- lah) its interpreter [about which Branch to turn to], how could our heart be contented to call the Lord and Master [Baha’u’llah] a forerunner of His servant [‘Abdu’l-Baha], and what distinction is then left for the Great Resplendent Manifestation? Is it permissible that the Root should give glad-tidings about the branch or the Sovereign call the subjects to his servant? The falsity of this notion is evident and everyone will comprehend it, because the promised one should be greater than the promisor.
Yes, it is customary for the predecessor to speak about his successor, and the appointment is only for bringing about friendship and amity. This is not a glad tidings. The glad-tidings belong to Manifestations only. If the friends study carefully the tablets of the Great Merciful [i.e. Baha’u’llah], they will bear witness that they are not in need of a Manifestation after His great appearance. He says: “The Forerunner came and foretold, the Fulfiller came and fulfilled. Wherefore and for whom another Manifestation?”
The laws revealed in the Book will not be changed for a thousand years, and each word that has been uttered by the Supreme Pen, in honor of anyone, cannot be effaced. Negation and confirmation are particular stations belonging to God, in which no one else has the right to intrude.
The greatest scale is the Book of God, and by that the truth and falsity of every statement will be known. Each word and action which the Book of God will confirm, is true, and those in violation of that (Book) are false. “God shall efface and confirm that which He chooseth.” In the days of the Manifestation, the cause is in the hands of the Owner of the Day, and after His disappearance everything is referred to the Book.
O friends, the cause of God was completed in His Blessed Appearance [i.e. Baha’u’llah] and nothing was left incomplete. Religious duties are subject to what has been revealed in the Book, the administration of affairs was left to the House of Justice, and the completion of the appearances [in this cycle] by His Great Manifestation was repeatedly mentioned in His revelations.
With the might of the holy tablets, use your efforts to improve the present defects [in the frith]. Do not allow any further spread of vain imaginations, that the friends may not suffer martyrdom again. The past is a mirror of the future. You have observed that at the beginning of the cause, what great harm the old imagination caused, and how many martyrdoms took place. According to the revelation of the Supreme Pen, those imaginations became bullets and poured into the pure body of the Primal Point (i.e. the Bab), thus piercing His blessed chest. A grain of imagination today will become a dome in the future, will gradually spread and cause endless harm.
Hakim Ferdowsi (the Persian poet who wrote the Shahnameh) said well, “A narrative will cause war, Time will make out of a toothpick a pole. A mischievous person, through his conversation, will destroy well constructed homes.”
This humble servant of His threshold has no aim but the welfare of the friends, and all my statements are under the shadow of His ordinances and according to His counsel. Compare them, and if you find them to be in accord with the sacred laws and counsels, kindly accept them.
Response to Charges of Interpolation of Baha’u’llah’s Writings
The question of interpolation (of the [sacred] text), which has been widely circulated, is insignificant, weak, and based on false imagination. The Book of the Temple which is said to have been interpolated, two manuscript copies of the same, bearing different dates, exist in the handwriting of Zaynu’l-Muqarrabin, who has inscribed them in His (Baha’u’llah’s) blessed days, and which do not vary a word with the printed copy of the said book. Come and search, and make this examination the cause of the elimination of the dissension over the revelation.
Also it is stated that certain tablets have been interpolated. Have you seen or received such a tablet? If anyone should produce a tablet and claim that it is written by the Supreme Pen (of Baha’u’llah), examine it carefully through the medium of modern methods of examination and testing practiced among progressive nations; and after such examination, decide foryourselves either to accept [it] or refuse. A well- known proverb says, “Do not go to judge alone.” God says, “Do not believe every speaker, and do not depend on every comer.” Also it has been said in the past, “A fame may be without foundation.”
Motives and Intentions; Closing Prayer
In this world the intentions are numerous, there is a great deal of disagreement in thought, and everyone with a bad intention tries to impress his impartiality on the people. I am speaking for the sake of God, and I am explaining these facts for the welfare of the [Bahá'í] cause. I ask you to read them, for the sake of God; also that, complying with His commands, you may rise with all tenderness and love and with great vigor, to eliminate the cause of the existing dissension and hatred (i.e. among the followers): that perchance the gates of calamity may be closed to the innocent among humanity, and so far as possible, prevent the introduction of new difficulties which may cause hardship to mankind in future generations.
O Thou, Unequal Creator! Thou art aware of the conscience of this needy one, and bear witness to his sincere intentions.
I ask Thee to assist the friends in carrying out justice and equity, and aid them to consider what I have explained above, that they may understand the said events and comprehend the revealed truths, that they may not be prevented from what Thou hast revealed by Thy Supreme Pen in the tablets; to take hold of Thy signs, and with the light of Thine evidence, illumine the world; to place Thy revelation before their eyes, and rise with good deeds, satisfactory actions, love, faithfulness, kindness, tenderness, and great compassion, calling and guiding mankind: That perchance the disagreement in thoughts may not become the cause of dissension of hearts, and differences in actions and deeds may not produce hatred and animosity.
That with Thine endless mercy, the world become the Paradise of Abha (i.e. the Most Glorious), and what Thou hast willed in Thy great days and considered as the distinction of Thy Cause may become manifest; and that love and unity encompass mankind. Indeed Thou art the Omnipotent, the All-Knowing, the Omniscient, the All-Observing.