By Shua Ullah Behai
This chapter is taken from a chapter of Shua Ullah Bahá’ís book manuscript in which he quotes extensively from the published teachings of his uncle Abbas Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and reproduces in its entirety the document regarded by all but a few Bahá’ís today as the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha. Because that document is very long and repetitive, only some particularly relevant quotations from it have been retained here and most of it has been cut. Several quotations from speeches and writings of Abdu’l-Baha have also been removed for the sake of brevity. Section headings have been added. The purported will of Abbas Effendi contrasts sharply with his public demeanor and rhetoric and the principles he taught Americans and Europeans who were interested in the Bahá’í movement. Abdu’l-Baha was known to his Western admirers for his mild manner and highminded teachings of peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, religious tolerance and reconciliation; but in the document considered to be his will, he rails against schismatic rivals led by his half-brother Mohammed Ali Effendi, whom he calls “The Center of Sedition” and whose goal, he says, is to “utterly destroy and exterminate” the Bahá’í cause. He accuses him of having broken the “Covenant” of Baha’u’llah by opposing Abdu’l-Baha, who was appointed as the leader of the faith in Baha’u’l-lah’s will, and declares that this “grievously fallen” brother has thus been “cut off’ from the Bahá’í Faith, i.e. excommunicated.
Laying out the case against Mohammed Ali Bahai, the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes several specific accusations: that he once claimed to write verses with equal authority as the writings of Baha’u’llah—ironically, something that Abbas Effendi himself did throughout his ministry after Baha’u’llah’s passing—and that he committed terrible acts of fraud and betrayal, such as tampering with Baha’u’llah’s writings, submitting libelous reports about his activities to the Ottoman government, and conspiring with Shua Ullah Behai and unnamed others in a plot to have him killed. Embracing the possibility of assassination or execution, he asks God to “make me to drink from the Chalice of Martyrdom, for the wide world with all its vastness can no longer contain me”; and he envisions his excommunicated brother as “afflicted by the wrath of God, sunk into a degradation and infamy that shall be lasting until the Day of Doom.” The author thus casts himself in the heroic role of innocent victim and defender of the faith in the face of the sinister machinations of those he believed to be enemies—the Unitarian Bahá’ís, whom he calls “Covenant-breakers”— who are cast as the embodiment of utmost evil.
Also in the will, ‘Abdu’l-Baha appoints his grandson, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, to a lofty station of infallible leadership as the “Guardian of the Cause of God.” He asserts that anyone who opposes or disputes with Mr.Rabbani has “opposed God” and should be expelled from the Bahá’í community, and calls for “the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God [to] rest upon him!”—much the same as his stance toward the Unitarian Bahá’ís. Surprisingly, he even goes so far as to say that “To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction.”
The overall tenor of the document makes it difficult to believe that it could really have been a celebrated progressive religious leader’s last message to the world—especially when juxtaposed with some of the other well-known writings, speeches and sayings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha that Shua Ullah Behai presents in this chapter. Mr. Behai suggests the possibility of forgery, seemingly unwilling to accept that his uncle could have written a will laced with fierce accusations of moral and spiritual corruption against his father and himself, and criticizes the appointment of a“Guardian” for the Bahá’í Faith, which he likens to a “little pope.” Mr. Behai praises ‘Abdu’l-Baha as a great Bahá’í leader and teacher, and emphatically denies the charge made in the will that he conspired to assassinate him.
Shua Ullah Behai was not the only person to suspect that the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha may have been forged. A few years after the Bahá’í leader’s death, an American Bahá’í named Ruth White arose in opposition to the appointment of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani as Guardian—a position that was not called for in Baha’u’llah’s writings and which, in her view, seemed to contradict some of the teachings of Abdu’l-Baha. In 1930, she arranged for an expert to examine the handwriting of the document in which this appointment was made. Dr. C. Ainsworth Mitchell, a British forensic scientist with experience in cases of suspected forgery, was commissioned to analyze a photographic copy of the will in question and samples of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s handwriting provided by Mrs. White. In his report, he concluded that he had “failed to detect in any part of the will the characteristics of the writing of Abdul Baha, as shown in the authenticated specimens,” i.e. the samples provided for comparison. Dr.Mitchell further stated that “the writing does not agree with the hypothesis that it was all written by one person,” suggesting that the will itself may have been written by more than one hand.
Although C. Ainsworth Mitchell’s report does lend some credence to the possibility that the “Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha” was forged, either in whole or in part, it certainly does not prove it. For one thing, even if the document was not written by Abdu’l-Baha’s own hand, he could have had secretaries or relatives take dictation. Also, two important points have been raised against the conclusions of Dr. Mitchell: first, that he was not experienced in analyzing handwriting in the Persian script, and in fact was illiterate in that language in which the will was written; and second, that the other samples submitted to him by Ruth White may not have been Abdu’l-Baha’s handwriting at all.
The validity of the will was never contested in a probate court, and Baha’is have been asked to trust Shoghi Effendi and other supporters of ‘Abdu’l-Bahawho asserted that it was authentic—and nearly all, both historically and in the present day, have done so. As later chapters of this book reveal, there is a great deal of testimony from various early Bahá’í insiders which would support the mainstream belief that the alleged will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha was consistent with his views and therefore probably his own—especially the parts about rejecting Mohammed Ali Effendi as a wicked heretic. No final conclusions can be drawn, however, without rigorous forensic examination and analysis of the original document and verified handwriting samples of Abbas Effendi and others who might have had access to it.
Also of note in this chapter is the fact that Shua Ullah Behai says that Abbas Effendi was born in 1841. This conflicts with the commonly accepted Bahá’í tradition which places the birth of Abdu’l-Baha in the year 1844 on the same day that the Bab declared his prophetic mission, suggesting that this story may be mythological.
Ghusn-i-A‘zam, the Greatest Branch, Abbas Effendi, Abdu’l- Baha—The greatness of this personage no one could deny, as he was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, and the appointed leader of the Bahá’ís, according to the Will of Baha’u’llah, entitled Kitab-i-‘Ahdi.
The pages of Bahá’í history are covered with his praise. Numerous books have been published about him, by the believers and admirers, and all are testimonials to his greatness. Therefore I do not think that I could possibly add to what has been written.
His life, his orations, and his efforts in the diffusion of the sacred teachings of Baha’u’llah should be an example for the devoted followers. He was born in Tehran, Iran, in the year 1841 A.D. and passed away at Haifa, Palestine, 1921 A.D.The following are some of his messages to mankind, and his will.
Teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
‘Abdu’l-Baha says in a letter to the Baha’is of America:
Beware! Beware! Lest ye offend any heart!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye hurt any soul!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye deal unkindly toward any person!
Beware! Beware! Lest ye be the cause of hopelessness to any creature!
Should one become the cause of grief to any one heart, or of despondency to any one soul, it were better to hide oneself in the lowest depths of the earth than to walk upon the earth.
Again ‘Abdu’l-Baha says:
Among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is one requiring man, under all conditions and circumstances, to be forgiving, to love his enemy and to consider an ill-wisher as a well-wisher. Not that he should consider one as being an enemy and then put up with him, or to simply endure him… This is declared to be hypocrisy. This love is not real. Nay, rather, you must see your enemies as friends, ill- wishers as well-wishers and treat them accordingly.
That is to say, your love and kindness must be real. Your well wishing must be reality, not merely forbearance, for forbearance, if not of the heart, is hypocrisy.
‘Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
“To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct their faults. To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten. Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about another, even though that other be our enemy.“
To an American friend he writes:
“The worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of backbiting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified, and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.“
“Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of the world of humanity. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all of the worlds of God are impossible for a soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also become realized.“
“Everyone must do away with false prejudices and must even go to the other churches and mosques, for, in all of these worshiping places, the name of God is mentioned. Since all gather to worship God, what difference does it make? None of these worship satan. The Mohammedans must go to the churches of the Christians and [the synagogues] of the Jews, and vice-versa, the others must go to the Mohammedan mosques. They hold aloof from one another merely because of unfounded prejudices and dogmas. In America, I went to the Jewish synagogues, which are similar to the Christian churches, and I saw them worshiping God everywhere. In most of these places I spoke to them about the original foundations of the divine religions and I explained to them the proofs of the validity of the divine prophets and of the holy Manifestations. I encouraged them to do away with blind imitations. All of the leaders must, likewise, go to the churches of one another and speak of the foundation and of the fundamental principles of the divine religions. In the utmost unity and harmony, they must worship God, in the worshiping places of one another and they must abandon these false fanaticisms.“
“God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality, and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears, nor comprehend with another’s brain. … Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God.“
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s definition of “What is a Bahá’í?”:
“When asked on one occasion: “What is a Bahá’í?” ‘Abdu’l-Baha replied: “To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” … In one of his London talks he said that a man may be a Bahá’í even if he has never heard the name of Baha’u’llah. He added:—“The man who lives the life according to the teachings of Baha’u’llah is already a Bahá’í. On the other hand, a man may call himself a Bahá’í for fifty years, and if he does not live the life he is not a Bahá’í. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no one…”
We are commanded to quicken the souls, to train the characters, to illumine the realm of man, to guide all the inhabitants of the earth, to create concord and unity among all men, and to lead the world of humanity to the Fountain of the Everlasting Glory. The reformation of one empire is not our aim; nay, rather we invoke from God that all the regions of the world be reformed and cultivated; the republic of men become the manifestors of the bounty of the most glorious Lord; the East and the West be brought nearer together… in brief, all the nations and peoples of the world become as one soul and one spirit, in order that strife and warfare be entirely removed and the rancor and hostility disappear, so that all become as the waves of one ocean, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one rose-garden, the trees of one orchard, the grains of one harvest, and the plants of one meadow.
The Bahá’í Movement is not an organization. You can never organize the Bahá’í Cause. The Bahá’í Movement is the spirit of this age. It is the essence of all the highest ideals of this century. The Bahá’í Cause is an inclusive movement: The teachings of all the religions and societies are found here; the Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Theosophists, Freemasons, Spiritualists, et. ah, find their highest aims in this Cause. Even the Socialists and philosophers find their theories fully developed in this Movement.
Be ye not seated and silent! Diffuse the glad-tidings of the Kingdom far and wide to the ears, promulgate the word of God… arise ye with such qualities and attributes that ye may continually bestow life to the body of the world, and nurse the infants of the universe up to the station of maturity and perfection. Enkindle with all your might in every meeting the light of the love of God, gladden and cheer every heart with the utmost loving-kindness, show forth your love to the strangers just as you show forth to your relations. If a soul is seeking to quarrel, ask ye for reconciliation; if he blame you, praise (him); if he give you a deadly poison, be- stowye an all-healing antidote; if he createth death, administer ye eternal life; if he becometh a thorn, change ye into roses and hyacinths. Perchance, through such deeds and words, this darkened world will become illuminated, this terrestrial universe will become transformed into a heavenly realm, and this satanic prison become a divine court; warfare and bloodshed be annihilated, and love and faithfulness hoist the tent of unity upon the apex of the world.
In his farewell address to the Baha’is in New York, USA, ‘Abdu’l- Baha said:
You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise without distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another. Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good… . Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let notyour heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.
In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity. Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity. Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Bahá’í.
Excerpts from the Alleged Will of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
[Three years after ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s death, his grandson Shoghi Effendi Rabbani allowed the leaders of the North American Bahá’í community to distribute to the members a document purported to be the last will and testament of the deceased successor of Baha’u’llah, forbidding them from publishing any part of it or disseminating it to nonbelievers:]
I feel that the conditions are now favorable for the circulation of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha only in manuscript form and among recognized believers in America. Every such believer should be trusted with a single copy with the express understanding that no duplicate copies or extracts of it be made or published anywhere.
The will was issued in accordance with the conditions laid down by Shoghi Effendi, by the National Spiritual Assembly, in February, 1925. [The following are excerpts from the will, which was eventually made available to the general public.]
[The document contains serious charges and a statement of excommunication pronounced against Mohammed Ali Effendi, the eldest surviving son of Baha’u’llah:]
O ye that stand fast and firm in the Covenant! The Center of Sedition, the Prime Mover of mischief, Mirza Muhammad ‘All, hath passed out from under the shadow of the Cause, hath broken the Covenant, hath falsified the Holy Text, hath inflicted a grievous loss upon the true Faith of God, hath scattered His people, hath with bitter rancor endeavored to hurt ‘Abdui-Baha 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… It is incumbent upon everyone to hold fast unto the Text of the clear and firmly established blessed verse, revealed about him. None other transgression greater than his can be ever imagined. He (Baha’u’llah) sayeth, glorious and holy is His Word: —“My foolish loved ones have regarded him even as my partner, have kindled sedition in the land and they verily are of the mischiefmakers… Should he for a moment pass out from under the shadow of the Cause, he surely shall be brought to naught.”… Ere long will ye behold him and his associates, outwardly and inwardly, condemned to utter ruin.
What deviation can be greater than breaking the Covenant of God!… What deviation can be greater than calumniating the Center of the Covenant [‘Abdu’l-Baha] himself! What deviation can be more glaring than spreading broadcast false and foolish reports touching the Temple of God’s Testament! What deviation can be more grievous than decreeing the death of the Center of the Covenant, supported by the holy verse:—“He that layeth a claim ere the passing of a thousand years…, whilst he (Muhammad ‘All) without shame in the days of the Blessed Beauty [Baha’u’llah] had advanced such a claim as this and been confuted by Him in the aforementioned manner, the text of his claim being still extant in his own handwriting and bearing his own seal…
In concert with others, he that hath broken the Covenant, hath prepared a document teeming with calumny and slander wherein, the Lord forbid, among many similar slanderous charges, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is deemed a deadly enemy, the ill-wisher of the Crown. They so perturbed the minds of the members of the Imperial Government that at last a Committee of Investigation was sent from the seat of His Majesty’s Government which, violating every rule of justice and equity that befit His Imperial Majesty, nay, with the most glaring injustice, proceeded with its investigations.
… One of their many calumnies was that this servant had raised aloft a banner in this city, had summoned the people together under it, had established a new sovereignty for himself, had erected upon Mount Carmel a mighty stronghold, had rallied around him all the peoples of the land and made them obedient to him, had caused disruption in the Faith of Islam, had covenanted with the following of Christ and, God forbid, had purposed to cause the gravest breach in the mighty power of the Crown. May the Lord protect us from such atrocious falsehoods!…
In like manner, the focal Center of Hate [Mohammed Ali], hath purposed to put Abdu’l-Baha to death and this is supported by the testimony written by Mirza Shu‘a‘u’llah [i.e. Shua Ullah Behai] himself and is here enclosed It is evident and indisputable that they are privily and with the utmost subtlety engaged in conspiring against me. The following are his very words written by him in this letter:—“I curse at every moment him that hath kindled this discord, imprecate in these words ‘Lord! have no mercy upon him’ and I hope ere long God will make manifest the one that shall have no pity on him, who now weareth another garb and about whom I cannot any more explain.” Reference he doth make by these words to the sacred verse that beginneth as follows:—“He that layeth a claim ere the passing of a thousand years…” Reflect! How intent they are upon the death of ‘Abdu’l-Baha!… In short, O ye beloved of the Lord! The Center of Sedition, Mfrza Muhammad ‘All, in accordance with the decisive words of God and by reason of his boundless transgression, hath grievously fallen and been cut off from the Holy Tree [i.e. excommunicated]. Verily, we wronged them not, but they have wronged themselves!
[The document also refers to a charge made against Mohammed Ali Effendi in a letter distributed by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, which was written by Badi Ullah Effendi when he briefly switched sides in the conflict between his elder brothers, and accuses the latter of materialistic motives, duplicity and spying:]
Adversities have waxed still more severe as they rose with unbearable cruelty to overpower and crush me, as they scattered far and wide their scrolls of doubt and in utter falsehood hurled their calumnies upon me. Not content with this, their chief [Mohammed Ali], O my God, hath dared to interpolate Thy Book [i.e. Ba- ha’u’llah’s “Book of the Temple”], to fraudulently alter Thy decisive Holy Text and falsify that which hath been revealed by Thy All- Glorious Pen. He did also maliciously insert that which Thou didst reveal for the one that hath wrought the most glaring cruelty upon Thee, disbelieved in Thee and denied Thy wondrous Signs [i.e. Subh-i-Azal], into what Thou didst reveal forthis servant of Thine that hath been wronged in this world All this he did that he might beguile the souls of men and breathe his evil whisperings into the hearts of Thy devoted ones. Thereunto did their second chief [Badi Ullah] testify, confessing it in his own handwriting, setting thereupon his seal and spreading it throughout all regions….
Gracious God! After Mxrza Badi’u’llah had declared in his own handwriting that this man (Muhammad ‘All) had broken the Covenant and had proclaimed his falsification of the Holy Text, he realized that to return to the True Faith and pay allegiance to the Covenant and Testament would in no wise promote his selfish desires. He thus repented and regretted the thing he had done and attempted privily to gather in his printed confessions, plotted darkly with the Center of Sedition against me and informed him daily of all the happenings within my household.
[Here the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha commands the Baha’is to shun Mohammed Ali Effendi, his supporters, and anyone who has any connection at all with him:]
And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past….
Should this man [Mohammed Ali] succeed in bringing disruption into the Cause of God, he will utterly destroy and exterminate it. Beware lest ye approach this man, for to approach him is worse than approaching fire!… It is incumbent upon the friends that are fast and firm in the Covenant and Testament to be ever wakeful lest after this wronged one [i.e. ‘Abdu’l-Baha] is gone this alert and active worker of mischief may cause disruption, privily sow the seeds of doubt and sedition and utterly root out the Cause of God. A thousand times shun his company. Take heed and be on your guard. Watch and examine; should anyone, openly or privily, have the least connection with him, cast him out from your midst, for he will surely cause disruption and mischief .
The beloved of the Lord must entirely shun them [i.e. the followers of Mohammed Ali], avoid them, foil their machinations and evil whisperings, guard the Law of God and His religion, engage one and all in diffusing widely the sweet savors of God and to the best of their endeavor proclaim His Teachings .
[Having given the reader reasons to believe that Mohammed Ali Effendi should not become the second successor of Baha’u’llah as envisioned in his will, the author of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha appoints Shoghi Effendi Rabbani to a position of “Guardianship” with supreme authority as the representative of God and chairman of the Universal House of Justice, and decrees that he should be succeeded by his lineal descendants:]
Salutation and praise, blessing and glory rest upon that primal branch of the Divine and Sacred Lote-Tree [i.e. Shoghi Effendi], grown out, blest, tender, verdant and flourishing from the Twin Holy Trees [the Bab and Baha’u’llah]; the most wondrous, unique and priceless pearl that doth gleam from out the Twin surging seas; … [and] upon them that have believed, rested assured, stood steadfast in His Covenant and followed the Light that after my passing shineth from the Dayspring of Divine Guidance—for behold! he [Shoghi Effendi] is the blest and sacred bough that hath branched out from the Twin Holy Trees Well is it with him that seeketh the shelter of his shade that shadoweth all mankind….
O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches) [i.e. sons of Baha’u’llah], the Afndn (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree [i.e. relatives of the Bab], the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God [i.e.highest appointed Bahá’í leaders] and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty [i.e. followers of Baha’u’llah] to turn unto Shoghi Effendi… as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God… He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents.
The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty [Baha’u’llah], under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One [the Bab] (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not [i.e. the Guardian], neither obeyeth them [the House of Justice], hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieved! in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him! The mighty stronghold shall remain impregnable and safe through obedience to him who is the Guardian of the Cause of God. It is incumbent upon the members of the House of Justice, upon all the Aghsan, the Afhan, the Hands of the Cause of God to show their obedience, submissiveness and subordination unto the Guardian of the Cause of God, to turn unto him and be lowly before him. He that opposeth him hath opposed the True One, will make a breach in the Cause of God, will subvert His Word and will become a manifestation of the Center of Sedition. Beware, beware, lest the days after the ascension (of Baha’u’llah) be repeated when the Center of Sedition [Mohammed AH] waxed haughty and rebelhous and with Divine Unity for his excuse deprived himself and perturbed and poisoned others….
It is incumbent upon the Guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own Ufe-time him that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his passing. … Should the first-born… not inherit of the spiritual within him… then must he (the Guardian of the Cause of God) choose another branch [i.e. male descendant of Baha’u’llah] to succeed him.
The Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons… [who] must give their assent to the choice of the one whom the Guardian of the Cause of God hath chosen as his successor….
And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error… the Guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. … Should any of the members commit a sin, injurious to the common weal, the Guardian of the Cause of God hath at his own discretion the right to expel him, whereupon the people must elect another one in his stead.
To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause [i.e. the Guardian] and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error .
[The “Guardian” is empowered to appoint and oversee a body of Bahá’í religious leaders called “Hands of the Cause of God,” who are given the power of excommunication:]
soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the Guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people of Baha and in no wise accept any excuse from him….
O friends! The Hands of the Cause of God must be nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Cause of God. All must be under his shadow and obey his command. Should any, within or without the company of the Hands of the Cause of God disobey and seek division, the wrath of God and His vengeance will be upon him, for he will have caused a breach in the true Faith of God.
[Bahá’ís are instructed to donate 19% of their wealth to the Guardian of the faith:]
The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favored His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him229… It is to be offered through the Guardian of the Cause of God, that it may be expended for the diffusion of the Fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Word, for benevolent pursuits and for the common weal.
Reaction to the Alleged Will
When this will was published, I hoped that eventually it will be considered invalid, for the following reasons:
First, it is in violation of the commands of Baha’u’llah, and the laws laid down by him.
Second, it is contradictory to ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s own teachings, and Bahá’í principles which he so nobly advocated.
Third, it is the destroyer of the foundation of liberty of thought, faith, belief, speech, and the press.
But my hopes were shattered and my expectations were in vain, when one of the Bahá’í communities, namely “The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada,” attributed such a prominence to this will, by incorporating the same into the bylaws of their organization, and compelling the members to become loyal and steadfast adherents to every clause of this will. Thus, reproducing the “catechism” of the old Roman Church:
• Bahá’í Trinity [i.e. a trinity of divinely inspired chiefs of the faith: the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and ‘Abdu’l-Baha].
• Bahá’í Elders [i.e. the Hands of the Cause].
• Guardians of the Cause, little popes, perpetual representatives of God on earth.
• etc. etc. etc.
I firmly believe that Abdu’l-Baha was too wise to leave such a will, and I am in doubt of its authenticity.
Denial of Accusations
In this will, I am accused that, “God forbid,” I have conspired against the life of Abdu’l-Baha. How could it be possible that I should contemplate such an unlawful action towards my beloved uncle, my father’s brother, and the father of the dearest lady [Mr. Behai’s cousin Ruha Khanum] to whom I was engaged in my young days, and whom, despite the elapse of years, still I respect, cherish, and honor?
I emphatically deny the accusations against me in this will, and I believe that they are fabricated by those who wrote the will, for the sole purpose of gaining control of leadership, as it is evident today.
Complying with the commands of Baha’u’llah, I forgive my accusers. Thank God, my conscience is clear, my character is clean, my name is unstained, and I know that the accusations are falsehood.