This is a blog entry devoted to a Baha’i “historian” and propaganda writer who used his fame among the Baha’is to get himself elected to the Universal House of Justice. His name was Adib Taherzadeh.
Taherzadeh was born into a Bahá’í Family in Yazd, Iran. He studied electrical engineering at the University of Tehran, pursued advanced studies in Coventry, England, and worked as the chief engineer of an industrial concern from 1950 until 1984. His dedication to the Faith can be judged from the fact that while he was studying in Coventry, he would take public transport to get to Birmingham, where the nearest Feast was being held, and at the end of the Feast, by which time of the evening there were no further buses, he would walk back to Coventry.
Mr. Taherzadeh served on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the British Isles from 1960 to 1971. He was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the Republic of Ireland when it was formed in 1972 and was appointed in 1976 to the European Continental Board of Counsellors, a senior advisory body. He was elected to the Universal House of Justice in 1988.
When I was a Baha’i. I bought two of his books, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, and The Child of the Covenant: A Study Guide to the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. The second book turned out to be a mere paraphrasing of the first rather than an actual sequel, thus I was tricked into buying a book I really didn’t need at all.
I lost both books after I deconverted, and thus was glad to discover that the text of both books have been posted online. All the better for me to dig them up and discredit them with logic, eh?
Encouraged by Siyyid Muhammad, Mirza Yahya made the preposterous claim of being the successor of the Bab — a position never contemplated by Him. Indeed, He categorically states in the Persian Bayan [4-5] that He appoints no successor to Himself. As a result of such harmful propaganda and acts of treachery and deceit, which kindled dissension among the believers, ‘the fire of the Cause of God’, as testified by Nabil, ‘had been well-nigh quenched in every place’.
Problem: Why would Mirza Yahya make such a claim if the Persian Bayan itself denies it? Wouldn’t the Babis have access to the Bayan to know if there was a successor or not? And of course, Taherzadeh doesn’t support this with a direct quote from the Bayan itself. Hmm….
It is important to recognise that every religion has had its beginnings characterized by the onrushing forces of divine Revelation vivifying the souls of men as in a spring season. But at the end of the Dispensation winter sets in and the spiritual energies die down. This process, in older Dispensations, lasted several centuries. For example, the springtime of Christianity, which lasted about three years during the Ministry of Jesus, was followed by the summer season a few centuries later when the Christian religion flourished. But with the advent of Muhammad, it lost its vitality and spiritual potency. The advent of a new Dispensation brings about the close of the older one. All past religions have gone through this cycle of spring, summer and winter, and the Dispensation of the Bab is no exception. The only difference is that whereas this cycle in older religions lasted several centuries, in the case of the Bab’s it took only a decade for the spiritual winter to set in.
Problem: Didn’t it ever occur to Taherzadeh that this same issue would also plague the Baha’i Faith?
The most essential prerequisites for the spiritual survival of all those who were close to Bahá’u’lláh were humility, self-effacement and utter nothingness in His presence. If these qualities were missing in an individual, he would be in great danger of spiritual downfall and eventual extinction.
Problem: Baha’u’lah himself did NOT display these virtues. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, he wrote:
O ye leaders of religion! Who is the man amongst you that can rival Me in vision or insight? Where is he to be found that dareth to claim to be My equal in utterance or wisdom? No, by My Lord, the All-Merciful! All on the earth shall pass away; and this is the face of your Lord, the Almighty, the Well-Beloved.
We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge; and yet, behold how ye have allowed your learning to shut you out, as by a veil, from Him Who is the Dayspring of this Light, through Whom every hidden thing hath been revealed. Could ye but discover the source whence the splendor of this utterance is diffused, ye would cast away the peoples of the world and all that they possess, and would draw nigh unto this most blessed Seat of glory.
Say: This, verily, is the heaven in which the Mother Book is treasured, could ye but comprehend it. He it is Who hath caused the Rock to shout, and the Burning Bush to lift up its voice, upon the Mount rising above the Holy Land, and proclaim: “The Kingdom is God’s, the sovereign Lord of all, the All-Powerful, the Loving!”
We have not entered any school, nor read any of your dissertations. Incline your ears to the words of this unlettered One, wherewith He summoneth you unto God, the Ever-Abiding. Better is this for you than all the treasures of the earth, could ye but comprehend it.
Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?
In distinct contrast to Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali’s claim was Abdu’l-Bahá’s utter self-effacement. Many believers during Bahá’u’lláh’s Ministry used to write letters to Abdu’l-Bahá, but He would not respond to them. For instance, Mirza Ali-Muhammad-i-Varqa, who was later martyred, wrote a great many letters to Him. To none of these did Abdu’l-Bahá send a reply. At the end Varqa wrote to Mirza Aqa Jan, Bahá’u’lláh’s amanuensis, and complained. When Bahá’u’lláh was informed about this He summoned Abdu’l-Bahá to His presence, and directed Him to send a reply to Varqa. Abdu’l-Bahá wrote a brief letter to him saying that when the Pen of the Most High is moving upon His Tablets, how could Abdu’l-Bahá be expected to write?
If I wrote several letters to anyone and he never saw fit to reply to me, I would not think him humble. Quite the opposite! It’s possible Abdu’l-Baha really didn’t give a damn about his fellow Baha’is as long as he wasn’t in charge yet.
Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali’s claim was not the only sign pointing to his ambitious nature, craving for leadership from this early age. His daily behaviour, even during Bahá’u’lláh’s lifetime, gave clear indications of his lack of spirituality and purity of motive, and his jealousy of Abdu’l-Bahá was apparent to those who were close to him. As Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali grew older, he acquired greater prestige among the believers. He thrived on the special consideration shown him by Bahá’u’lláh’s followers in order to honour his Father. But many of Bahá’u’lláh’s disciples who had spiritual eyes soon discovered his real nature and found him devoid of those divine virtues and spiritual qualities which characterize a true believer. Long before he broke the Covenant they were able to detect in him an air of superiority and self-glorification, and a craving for leadership and power.
Problem: Appearantly Baha’u’llah himself never noticed these character flaws in Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali. Otherwise, why would he mention both Abdu’l-Baha and Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali in his Book of the Covenant as his successors?
And yet, the Blessed Beauty, in spite of Muhammad-‘Ali’s reprehensible conduct, conferred upon him a rank next to that of Abdu’l-Bahá. These are the words of Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitab-i-‘Ahd, His Will and Testament:
“Verily God hath ordained the station of the Greater Branch [Muhammad-‘Ali] to be beneath that of the Most Great Branch [Abdu’l-Bahá]. He is in truth, the Ordainer, the All-Wise. We have chosen ‘The Greater’ after ‘The Most Great,’ as decreed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed.” [8-5]
This passage brought about many tests and misunderstandings. Some of the believers who had been in close contact with Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali knew him to be deceitful and materialistic, and avid for power. Others, reading the several condemnatory passages which Bahá’u’lláh had written about him, were sure that he was a perfidious individual who was related to Bahá’u’lláh only physically and had no spiritual relationship with Him. These people were deeply puzzled when they observed that Bahá’u’lláh had chosen such a person to succeed Abdu’l-Bahá. For it was concerning Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali that Bahá’u’lláh had issued this ominous warning in one of His Tablets:
“By God, the True One! Were We, for a single instant, to withhold from him the outpourings of Our Cause, he would wither, and would fall upon the dust.” [8-6]
To such a person, Bahá’u’lláh in the Kitab-i-‘Ahd grants the right to succeed Abdu’l-Bahá. And indeed, Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali publicly claimed this successorship both during the Ministry of Abdu’l-Bahá and after His Ascension.
Problem: Adib Taherzadeh is actually admitting here that Baha’u’llah was an idiot to give such an unworthy son a high rank in the Baha’i Faith!
Bahá’u’lláh was fully aware of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali’s shortcomings, yet, as the second surviving son of Bahá’u’lláh, it was his birthright to occupy a station next to that of Abdu’l-Bahá. God did not pronounce judgement on him before his rebellion against the Cause. Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali was given the chance to mend his ways and take his rightful position within the Faith but he failed, as in a test, and thus perished spiritually.
That’s BULLSHIT! Being ANY son of Baha’u’llah should not have given someone a birthright to be Baha’i leader after him. I know Baha’is in the Middle East were used to living under absolute monarches, but if this religion was supposed to be a Faith to last 1000 years, then Baha’u’llah should have rejected the concept of monarchy and appointed the most worthy person to lead the Baha’i community, whether a relative of his or not!
On the fifth anniversary of the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, Mirza Aqa Jan, Bahá’u’lláh’s amanuensis, threw in his lot with the Covenant-breakers and became one of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali’s most powerful tools. He created a great disturbance among the believers which brought suffering and anguish to the heart of Abdu’l-Bahá for some time.
Mirza Aqa Jan had been the first person to believe in Bahá’u’lláh as ‘Him Whom God shall make manifest’. He did not belong to the learned class, having only an elementary education. In his youth he used to make soap and sell it for a living. Soapmaking was a humble trade in those days, and it was often carried out in the home by people who were not well educated. Mirza Aqa Jan went to Iraq soon after the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in that country, and his first meeting with Him took place in the house of a friend in Karbila.
There in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh he sensed a great spiritual power emanating from Him, a power that transformed his whole being. He was the first one to whom Bahá’u’lláh gave an intimation of the as yet unrevealed glory of His station. He also chose him as His personal servant and gave him the title of Khadim (servant), and later Khadimu’llah (servant of God).
At the same time that Mirza Aqa Jan was the ‘servant in attendance’, he was empowered by Bahá’u’lláh to act as His amanuensis in spite of his inadequate education. This he did till the end of the Ministry of Bahá’u’lláh. This man indeed served Bahá’u’lláh assiduously for years in the triple functions of secretary, servant and companion. In the whole range of Bahá’u’lláh’s companions, there was nobody so close to Him as Mirza Aqa Jan. He was for years a channel of communication between Bahá’u’lláh and the believers. It was a common practice for the believers to send their petitions or letters to Mirza Aqa Jan who would then present them to Bahá’u’lláh.
And why would such a close companion of Baha’u’llah betray him and Abdu’l-Baha? Perhaps because he actually knew the writings of Baha’u’llah better than most other Baha’is and thought it was ABDU’L-BAHA who had broken the Covenant. Why?
Baha’u’llah called for Abdu’l-Baha to be the leader of the Baha’i Faith after him and that his brother Mirza Muhammad-Ali was to be Abdu’l-Baha’s successor. He did NOT claim anything for Abdu’l-Baha beyond that.
Abdu’l-Baha broke the original Baha’i covenant by claiming to be infallible (Baha’u’llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas said only God was infallible). Because his brother opposed this, that brother was denounced as a covenant-breaker, ironically. Abdu’l-Baha then appointed Shoghi Effendi as his successor (the “Guardian of the Cause of God”) and said that the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice would also be infallibly guided by God. This I consider to be blasphemy.
It is interesting that God establishes His Faith in the world with the help of the most unsuitable people. Mirza Aqa Jan was neither a learned person capable of assuming the awesome responsibility of an amanuensis to the Manifestation of God, nor did he have those qualities which are essential for serving Him. Abdu’l-Bahá also had some individuals who worked very closely with Him; among them were a few who proved to be both unfaithful and incompetent servants. Indeed, Bahá’u’lláh and Abdu’l-Bahá were both surrounded by a number of close companions who later became Covenant-breakers. Yet, in spite of this serious handicap of working with incompetent, unfaithful, and sometimes dangerous individuals, God promotes His Faith, and thereby demonstrates His power and omnipotence to His servants.
That is so illogical it blows my mind now to read it!
Among the party from the West which came to visit the Master was a man by the name of Ibrahim Khayru’llah. He was a Lebanese Christian who had embraced the Cause in Egypt during Bahá’u’lláh’s lifetime and had moved to the United States in 1892. Two years later he succeeded in converting Thornton Chase, the first western Christian to embrace the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and the Master referred to Khayru’llah as ‘Baha’s Peter’. For a few years Khayru’llah taught the Faith to several souls in various parts of the United States. He was the only teacher to whom the believers turned for enlightenment in that vast country.
But here is an example of how pride and ambition can extinguish the fire of faith which burns in the heart of a believer. There is nothing more vital for a follower of Bahá’u’lláh who becomes successful in teaching the Cause than genuine humility, utter self-effacement and complete servitude toward the loved ones of God. But alas, Khayru’llah was vain and egotistical. As the years went by and he saw the fruit of his teaching work multiply, he became proud and entertained the thought of dividing the Bahá’í world into two parts, he becoming the leader of the Bahá’ís of the West, and Abdu’l-Bahá that of the East!
Note that Adib Taherzadeh doesn’t provide any quotes or documentation of any kind to support the absurd claim in that last sentence.
In 1917 Khayru’llah wrote a letter to Professor Edward Browne of Cambridge which is indicative of his despair:
“The Bahá’í movement in America became slow and dull since the sad dissension reached the West nineteen years ago. I thought then that to call the people to this Great Truth was equivalent to inviting them into a quarrel. But the visit of Abbas Efendi Abdu’l-Bahá to this country, his false teachings, his misrepresentation of Bahá’ísm, his dissimulation, and the knowledge that his end is nigh, aroused me to rise up for helping the work of God, declaring the Truth, and refuting the false attacks of theologians and missionaries. Now I am struggling hard to vivify the Cause of God, after its having received by the visit of Abbas Efendi a death-blow.”
Most likely Khayru’llah was a follower of the Baha’i Faith as it was originally taught by Baha’u’llah and when Abdu’l-Baha made changes to the teachings to make them palatable to western audiences, Khayru’llah rejected this approach. He sided with Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali in his dispute with Abdu’l-Baha, which negates the earlier point about Khayru’llah wanting to be the leader of the western Baha’is.