Narrative history is the practice of writing history in a story-based form. It tends to entail history-writing based on reconstructing series of short-term events, and ever since the influential work of Leopold von Ranke on professionalising history-writing in the nineteenth century has been associated with empiricism. The term narrative history thus overlaps with the term histoire événementielle (‘event-history’) coined by Fernand Braudel in the early twentieth century, as he promoted forms of history-writing analysing much longer-term trends (what he called the longue durée).
Though history is considered a social science, the story-based nature of history allows for the inclusion of a greater or lesser degree of narration in addition to an analytical or interpretative exposition of historical knowledge. It can be divided into two subgenres: the traditional narrative and the modern narrative.
Traditional narrative focuses on the chronological order of history. It is event driven and tends to center upon individuals, action, and intention. For example, in regard to the French Revolution, an historian who works with the traditional narrative might be more interested in the revolution as a single entity (one revolution), centre it in Paris, and rely heavily upon major figures such as Maximilien Robespierre.
Conversely, modern narrative typically focuses on structures and general trends. A modern narrative would break from rigid chronology if the historian felt it explained the concept better. In terms of the French Revolution, an historian working with the modern narrative might show general traits that were shared by revolutionaries across France but would also illustrate regional variations from those general trends (many confluent revolutions). Also this type of historian might use different sociological factors to show why different types of people supported the general revolution.
Historians who use the modern narrative might say that the traditional narrative focuses too much on what happened and not enough on why and causation. Also, that this form of narrative reduces history into neat boxes and thereby does an injustice to history. J H Hexter characterized such historians as “lumpers”. In an essay on Christopher Hill, he remarked that “lumpers do not like accidents: they would prefer them vanish…The lumping historian wants to put all of the past into boxes..and then to tie all the boxes together into one nice shapely bundle.”
Historians who use traditional narrative might say that the modern narrative overburdens the reader with trivial data that had no significant effect on the progression of history. They believe that the historian needs to stress what is consequential in history, as otherwise the reader might believe that minor trivial events were more important than they were.
Virtually all the “history” you read in the Bible is this type of narrative.
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”
12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
2 Kings 1
1 After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”
3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.
5 When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, “Why have you come back?”
6 “A man came to meet us,” they replied. “And he said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’”
7 The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?”
8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair[a] and had a leather belt around his waist.”
The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
9 Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”
10 Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
11 At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’”
12 “If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.
13 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! 14 See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”
15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.
16 He told the king, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!” 17 So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.
Because Ahaziah had no son, Joram[b] succeeded him as king in the second year of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. 18 As for all the other events of Ahaziah’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[e]
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’[f]
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The historical narratives of the Baha’i Faith are also made this way; though they may not contain references to miracles, they are also illogical.
The Breaking of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant
The passing of Bahá’u’lláh on 28 May 1892 in the Mansion of Bahji marks the beginning of the most turbulent epoch within the Bahá’í community, an epoch which witnessed the onslaught of the unfaithful against the Cause on a far greater scale than any so far encountered in the course of its eventful history, including the rebellion of Mirza Yahya. The blessed remains of Bahá’u’lláh were not yet laid to rest when Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali revealed his true self. Up till then he had given the appearance of being loyal to his Father and to Abdu’l-Bahá, but now he launched his ignoble plans to undermine the foundation of the Covenant and overthrow Abdu’l-Bahá, its Centre.
In a celebrated Tablet, the Lawh-i-Hizar Bayti (Tablet of One Thousand Verses) Abdu’l-Bahá describes the grievous events which occurred immediately before and just after the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh. He states that during the days of Bahá’u’lláh’s illness, He, Abdu’l-Bahá, was in attendance on His blessed Person by day and by night, most of the time in a state of deep sorrow and depression. One day as He lay in His sick-bed, Bahá’u’lláh ordered Abdu’l-Bahá to gather all those of His papers which were in the room and place them in two special cases. It was Bahá’u’lláh’s practice that whenever He left the Mansion for Akka or elsewhere, He used to put all His papers in these large cases. Aware of the implications of this command, Abdu’l-Bahá was shaken to the very depths of His being. As He hesitated to comply, Bahá’u’lláh reiterated His orders. With trembling hands and tearful eyes, Abdu’l-Bahá was beginning to gather the papers when Majdu’d-Din entered the room.
Majdu’d-Din was a son of Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother Aqay-i-Kalim, but he was utterly different from his father. The most treacherous among the family, he was the most formidable enemy of Abdu’l-Bahá. Indeed, as we shall see later, he was the backbone, if not the principal instigator, of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali, the arch-breaker of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh.
In this Tablet, Abdu’l-Bahá further describes the agony of His heart as He forced Himself to gather Bahá’u’lláh’s papers. Seeing Majdu’d-Din, Abdu’l-Bahá asked for his assistance, so that this task, so extremely painful to Him, might be soon finished. When all the papers, the seals and other items had been locked into the cases, Bahá’u’lláh said to Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘These two now belong to you.’ These words, implying the approach of the final hours of Bahá’u’lláh’s earthly life, pierced Abdu’l-Bahá’s heart like an arrow.
When the ascension took place, Abdu’l-Bahá’s grief knew no bounds. The shock He sustained as a result of this calamitous event was so intense that He found it difficult to describe it. He says that in the morning, along with His brother, He began the task of preparing the remains for burial. When they were about to wash Bahá’u’lláh’s blessed body, Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali suggested to Abdu’l-Bahá that since the floor would become wet, it would be better to take the two cases out of the room into Badi’u’llah’s  room. Abdu’l-Bahá was at that point in such a state of shock and grief that He was almost unconscious of His surroundings. He never thought that behind this suggestion could be a treacherous plot designed to rob Him of that precious trust.
[1 The youngest brother of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali.]
He agreed, and the two cases were taken out and that was the last He saw of them.
The sacred remains were laid to rest that same day. Abdu’l-Bahá was disconsolate and heartbroken. He says that for three consecutive days and nights He could not rest a single moment. He wept for hours and was in a state of unbearable grief. The Light of the World had disappeared from His sight and all around Him had been plunged into darkness. On the fourth night after the ascension, He arose from His bed around midnight and walked a few steps hoping that it might help to bring a measure of tranquillity to His agonized heart. As He began to pace the room, He saw through the window a scene His eyes could scarcely believe. His unfaithful brothers had opened the cases and were looking through Bahá’u’lláh’s papers, those papers which had been entrusted to Him!
Abdu’l-Bahá was deeply disturbed by the treachery of His brothers so soon after the ascension of their Father. This act of unfaithfulness committed so dishonourably against the most sacred trust of God, inflicted further pain and suffering upon His sorrow-laden heart. He returned to His bed immediately after this incident, for He did not wish His brothers to know He had seen them interfering with the contents of the cases. At this point Abdu’l-Bahá thought to Himself that since His brothers had not seen the Will and Testament of Bahá’u’lláh, which was in Abdu’l-Bahá’s possession, they were trying to find some document among His Writings with which to justify their intended action of undermining the foundation of the Cause of God and creating a division within the ranks of its avowed supporters. However, Abdu’l-Bahá hoped, when they saw the Will and Testament, their efforts would be frustrated and they would then return His trust to Him.
But alas, this did not happen! The Kitab-i-‘Ahd was read by Aqa Riday-i-Qannad on the ninth day after the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh in the presence of nine witnesses chosen from among Bahá’u’lláh’s companions and members of Bahá’u’lláh’s family, including Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali. On the afternoon of the same day it was read by Majdu’d-Din in the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh before a large company of the friends, consisting of the Aghsan, the Afnan, the pilgrims and resident believers. Abdu’l-Bahá says that after the Kitab-i-‘Ahd was read and its contents noted, some rejoiced with exceeding gladness and some grieved with great sorrow. The faces of the faithful were illumined with the light of joy, and those of the falsehearted were covered in the dust of despondency and gloom. Abdu’l-Bahá states that on that day the foundations of Covenant-breaking were laid, the ocean of vain imagining began to surge, and the fire of dissension and strife was lit, its flame burning more fiercely with the passage of time and consuming the hearts and souls of the faithful in its tormenting heat.
[1 For a brief account of his life, see The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, vol. 2. ]
Soon after that historic day when the Kitab-i-‘Ahd was read, one of the Afnan asked Abdu’l-Bahá to use one of Bahá’u’lláh’s blessed seals to seal a Tablet which had been revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in his honour. When Abdu’l-Bahá asked His brothers to give Him the seals of Bahá’u’lláh which had been placed in the cases, they pleaded ignorance, saying they did not know anything about the two cases! Bewildered and perplexed by such a remark, Abdu’l-Bahá was plunged further into sorrow and grief. He describes how His whole being began to tremble when He heard such a response from His brothers, and knew that great tests and trials lay ahead.
Indeed the Kitab-i-‘Ahd had the same effect on the believers as an examination paper does on the pupils: divided into two categories, those who pass and those who fail. As soon as the contents of the Kitab-i-‘Ahd were made public the community was divided into two. Those who remained faithful to its sacred provisions rose to exalted realms of certitude and entered the ark of salvation. Those who violated the provisions were spiritually cast out of the community and returned to the deadly abodes of their own self and passions.
Although the violation of the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh began in earnest immediately after His ascension, Abdu’l-Bahá did not disclose the rebellion of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali, and a host of others who followed him in the Holy Land, to the believers in the East or the West. He tried, as He put it, to stop the foul odour of Covenant-breaking from spreading. He endured in silence for about four years all the suffering and humiliation that they heaped upon Him, as well as their onslaught against the Cause of which He was the only Centre. During these years He endeavoured to His utmost to guide these wayward people, who were intent upon destroying the Edifice of the Cause of God, to the path of truth and to infuse into their dying souls the breath of life. But they were haughty and vainglorious, and His loving counsels and admonitions did not penetrate the hardness of their hearts. At the end it was they themselves who disseminated their evil suggestions and vain imaginings among the believers.
The whole story of the violation of the Covenant by Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali was initially made public by himself. Soon the disease spread through Persia and later in the West, and the plague of Covenant-breaking encompassed the community of the Most Great Name everywhere. Consequently Abdu’l-Bahá wrote innumerable Tablets in which He told the story of Covenant-breaking, unmasked the ugly face of this misguided rebellion, named the violators of the Covenant, demonstrated their unfaithfulness and their evil designs and expatiated on His own sufferings at their hands. He elucidated in great detail the basic principles of the Covenant, its origins, its power and its indestructibility. He also urged the believers to remain steadfast in the Covenant, and inspired them to scale loftier heights in service to His Cause.
It is appropriate here to define the term Covenant-breaker. A believer who recognizes Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age will wholeheartedly obey His teachings and commandments. One of these commandments is to turn to Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of His Covenant, to be submissive to Him and abide by His bidding. The same is true in relation to Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. A true believer, therefore, is one who believes in Bahá’u’lláh and follows those upon whom He has placed the mantle of authority. A Covenant-breaker is one who while professing to believe in Bahá’u’lláh arises in active opposition to Him; or to the Centre of the Covenant, Abdu’l-Bahá, or to Shoghi Effendi; or today to the Universal House of Justice.
Bahá’u’lláh has described those who break the Covenant as ‘birds of night’. This description is very apt because these birds dislike the rays of the sun; if there is light somewhere they flee from it, preferring the darkness. This is the nature of a Covenant-breaker. He perceives the spiritual power and ascendancy of the Centre of the Cause, but cannot bring himself to submit to His authority. Instead he rises in opposition against the One whom he knows to be invested with the potency of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.
In the days of Bahá’u’lláh, the authority to expel Covenant-breakers was vested in Himself; later it devolved upon Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant, and then upon Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Cause. At present, should anyone break the Covenant, his expulsion would be by decision of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, subject to the approval of the Universal House of Justice.
It is interesting at this juncture to refer briefly to Mirza Badi’u’llah, the youngest son of Bahá’u’lláh who joined hands with his older brother Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali, violated the Covenant and rose up in opposition to Abdu’l-Bahá. Some years passed and he, for reasons of his own, went to Abdu’l-Bahá, repented his wrongdoings and begged Abdu’l-Bahá to forgive him. With that loving-kindness characteristic of the Master, he was forgiven. On that occasion he wrote and published an epistle addressed to the Bahá’í world, in which he described some of the iniquitous activities of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali. However, Mirza Badi’u’llah’s change of heart lasted for only a short time. He allied himself again with Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali and resumed his nefarious activities against the Centre of the Covenant. This son of Bahá’u’lláh, who survived his commander-in-chief Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali by many years, inflicted much pain and suffering upon both Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.
In his ‘epistle of repentance’ Mirza Badi’u’llah reveals among other things some of the ignoble works perpetrated by Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali immediately after the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh. The following is a summary translation of this episode.
“During His last illness, Bahá’u’lláh directed Abdu’l-Bahá to place His papers and Tablets in two special large cases… These were entrusted by Him to Abdu’l-Bahá…. When the time came to wash the sacred body of Bahá’u’lláh, they brought water in the room. Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali said to Abdu’l-Bahá that since water would be poured around the room, it would be better to remove the two cases to another room so that they would not get wet. Abdu’l-Bahá assented and Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali asked Majdu’d-Din to move them to my room. This was done and the cases were placed in a special cabinet and locked.
“Three days after the ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali asked me to give him the keys so that he might open the cases. He said: ‘Bahá’u’lláh has placed a certain document in these cases which needs to be studied.’ He took the keys from me. The next thing I noticed was that with the help of Majdu’d-Din, Ali Rida, his sister, and the mother of Shu’a’u’llah the cases were taken out of the window onto the balcony of the mansion and from there into the room of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali. He took out all the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh which were addressed to individual believers. When I protested at his action, he explained, among other things, that the responsibility of the protection of the Holy Writings had been given to him by Bahá’u’lláh, and that he had a Tablet to this effect. However, he did not show me any such Tablet… He also indicated to me in a subtle way that the Most Great Branch was against the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh and if these Holy Writings were to fall into His hands, he would destroy them and would obliterate the name and every trace of the Blessed Beauty from this world!
[1 He was a son of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali; see below pp. 277 and 419.]
Another violation by Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali was the interpolation of the Holy Writings. For a long time … he used to say that he possessed a Tablet from the Supreme Pen concerning the person of Abdu’l-Bahá and that if he were to publish it, the credibility of Abdu’l-Bahá would be finished and His name effaced forever. He spoke of this on numerous occasions to members of the family. Some time elapsed, during which a few individuals questioned me concerning the Tablet in question. I, therefore, asked Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali to show it to us, but every time I mentioned it to him, he offered me an excuse and sought a pretext to avoid it. Until, one day, he took out of the case a blessed Tablet which was revealed before Bahá’u’lláh’s imprisonment in the Most Great Prison and gave it to me to read. In it Bahá’u’lláh condemns the iniquities and wicked deeds perpetrated by His brother Mirza Yahya, whom He addresses as ‘My brother’. I said to Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali that this Tablet had no relevance to the present situation. He said: ‘I have permission from Bahá’u’lláh to use my pen and interpolate His Writings for the protection of the Cause. Now since some individuals have exaggerated the station of Abdu’l-Bahá, and the Master claims to be the embodiment of Divinity, I will erase the words “My brother” and insert in its place “My Greatest Branch”. This I will show to some people in order to check His influence.’
…After a few minutes, he carried out this interpolation in front of my eyes. Successfully, he changed the words ‘My brother’ to ‘My Greatest Branch’. I pointed out to him that this action amounted to the betrayal of God’s trust and constituted a sin. I warned him that if he showed the Tablet in this form to anyone, I would divulge the whole event and report the act of interpolation…. On hearing these words he became disturbed and promised that he would not show the Tablet to anyone. He also requested me not to reveal the matter.” [11-1]
In his ‘epistle of repentance’, Mirza Badi’u’llah discloses further acts of interpolation of the Holy Tablets. He states that Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali interpolated some of the Tablets which were addressed to the Babis who had rebelled against Bahá’u’lláh. These Tablets were condemnatory in tone, and he interpolated them in such a way as to make them appear to condemn the person of Abdu’l-Bahá.
Thus the Covenant-breakers began their shameful careers with acts of deceit, falsehood and corruption of the Text. As the years went by, they intensified their nefarious activities against the Cause of God and its divinely appointed Centre. They created a temporary breach in the ranks of the believers, and caused heart-rending sufferings for Abdu’l-Bahá and His loved ones. But in the end they were overwhelmed by the power of the Covenant, and the only traces they left behind are the stains of their unfaithfulness imprinted upon the pages of the history of the Cause.
There is no more reason to believe that account written by Adib Taherzadeh than there is to believe what was written in the Bible. Indeed, there are logical flaws in the storyline here. One of the supposedly unfaithful brothers of Abdu’l-Bahá was Diya’u’llah.
Bahá’u’lláh’s other son, Mirza Diya’u’llah, was a vacillating person who wavered in his allegiance to the Centre of the Covenant; he was easily manipulated and became a willing tool in the hands of Mirza Muhammad-‘Ali. He lived in the Mansion of Bahji along with the rest of the family, all of whom were affected by the spirit of Covenant-breaking. Mirza Diya’u’llah died in 1898 not very long after the passing of Bahá’u’lláh. He did not live to take an effective part in all the hostile activities which his brother was conducting against Abdu’l-Bahá. After his death Abdu’l-Bahá said that He had forgiven him.
But while Abdu’l-Bahá apparently allowed for neutrality among his brothers, Shoghi Effendi did not.
After his death in 1898, Ḍíyáʼu’lláh was initially buried next to his father at the Shrine of Baháʼu’lláh at the Mansion of Bahjí. However, having been declared a Covenant-breaker, Ḍíyáʼu’lláh’s remains were disinterred in 1965 in a process the Universal House of Justice described as a “purification… from past contamination.”
Why was he declared a “Covenant-breaker” so long after his death? Because history had just been rewritten to depict the rebellion of Abdu’l-Baha’s brothers immediately after Baha’u’llah’s death, when it probably began many years later once Abdu’l-Baha began making claims for himself and altering the Baha’i teachings contrary to what Baha’u’llah himself taught. In short, that entire storyline by Taherzadeh was most likely COMPLETELY MADE UP many years after the events they were supposed to depict.
Since Baha’is were under strict orders to shun all “Covenant-breakers”, that meant the rank and file believers would never have the claims of Shoghi Effendi and his followers challenged directly with an alternative narrative. Such as……
The Passing of Baha’u’llah
Mohammad Ali Effendi’s words during his father’s [Baha’u’llah] passing to the Eternal Realm:
“I wish that I was not in existence to see that dark day. I do not know what to say and to write, and how to explain, as it is beyond the endurance of human strength.”
(A poet said,)
“as the pen moves to inscribe the events, the pen is broken and the paper is torn.”
Mohammad Ali Effendi states,
“To keep silent is better, to quench the fire burning in my innermost, and thus [I merely] record the events in brief.”
One day in the Palace of Bahji, a slight fever attacked Baha’u’llah, but this did not prevent the regular routine and some of the faithful followers were admitted to His presence. The next day the fever increased, and immediately Mohammad Ali wrote a letter to Ghusn-i-Azam (Abdul- Baha) at Acre informing him of the event; he came, and they both served Him to the last. During those days [while Baha’u’llah was ill], all the members of His household were at the Palace (of Bahji). Ghusn-i- Azam and some members of his family divided their time between the house at Acre and the Palace, as discontinuing the association with the natives and the government officials would not have been a wise step.
When Baha’u’llah passed away, according to His commands Ghusn-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali, and Mirza Majdeddin attended to the holy remains, and Khadim assisted them. The other two younger branchescould not stand the ordeal and did not join them. Indeed their task was beyond endurance, but they obeyed His command and performed their duties, though burning with the fire of separation.