A Critical Examination

A Critical Examination of 20th Century Baha’i Literature

 by Vance Salisbury

Introduction

While searching for information about the Sufis during the latter part of the 19th century, British orientalist Edward Granville Browne came upon an account of Sayyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab (Gate), an obscure Persian prophet who had been martyred in 1850. He was immediately captivated by the stories of dedication and heroism displayed by the Bab and his disciples. Browne had hoped to visit Persia (Iran) for years, but from that point, it was to become a pilgrimage for the young scholar as he began his quest for the Babis, the followers of the young prophet.1

During his visit to Persia in 1887, Browne discovered that a considerable amount of change had taken place within the sect and the vast majority of the Babis had become Bahá’ís, the disciples of Bahá’u’lláh, an early Babi leader who claimed to be the fulfillment of the Bab’s prophecies of a future manifestation of God. A much smaller rival faction, the Azalis, followed the conservative leadership of Bahá’u’lláh’s half-brother, Subh-i Azal.

Browne’s intensive study of the Babi and Bahá’í religions resulted in the production of a number of extremely important works, as well as a significant collection of manuscripts from early Babi, Bahá’í, Azali, Islamic, and other contemporary sources. But, after more than two decades of research, Browne was to conclude that: “…the more the Bahá’í doctrine spreads, especially outside of Persia, and most of all in Europe and America, the more the true history and nature of the original Babi movement is obscured and distorted”2 at the hands of the historians of the movement. His scholarly interest in Babi and Bahá’í history remained, nonetheless, very sympathetic. To Browne, it seemed that the study of the movement was invaluable to students of new religions “because of the light it throws on the genesis and evolution of other religions.”3

Following Browne’s death in 1926, western scholars virtually ignored the Babi and Bahá’í religions, so the question of suppression and manipulation of historical materials on the part of the Bahá’ís was not pursued. Browne’s writings on the subject surfaced occasionally in the works of Christian polemicists,4 but no fresh research in this vein has been carried on until recently.5 During this period of silence, Bahá’í apologists denied any sort of historical rewriting and sought to discredit Browne’s work by questioning his objectivity and his motives.6

The controversy surrounding Professor Browne and early Bahá’í historians has yet to be resolved and, in fact, can only be approached by those who are familiar with the history and literature of that period.7 During the past fifteen years, a handful of young Bahá’í scholars have examined some of the questions raised by Browne and other controversial aspects of Babi-Bahá’í history, resulting in studies which are vital to a correct understanding of the subject and which will undoubtedly contribute a great deal to any future research.8 However, at the close of the 20th century, a study of more recent histories and introductions to the faith by popular Bahá’í writers demonstrates that there are still valid reasons for questioning Bahá’í explanations of Babi doctrines and practices, as well as their portrayals of early historical events. These modern apologists, faced with the problem of reconciling the militant messianic nature of their Babi precursors and the pacifist ideals of modern Bahá’ísm, continue to distort the character of the Babi religion in order to make it more palatable to the modern truth-seeker. But, beyond this reconstruction of Babism to fit into a contemporary Bahá’í historical framework, a survey of a number of books reveals that the Bahá’í Administration has, during this century, pursued a course of revision, suppression, and censorship of writings which do not conform to current standards of orthodoxy. Therefore, an examination is in order to determine the nature and the scope of this tendency within the Bahá’í Faith, which Browne brought to light nearly a century ago.

The Redefinition of Babism

According to Bahá’í authors, the Bab is considered to have been a prophet or major manifestation of God and the author of his own distinct religion. But, he is also portrayed as the one who was to prepare the way for the fuller and more recent manifestation of God in Bahá’u’lláh, as John the Baptist heralded the revelation of Jesus Christ.9 In his chronicle, God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of Bahá’u’lláh and first Guardian of the Faith, merged the religion of the Bab with that of Bahá’u’lláh in such a way that the Babis are no longer perceived as a distinct religious movement, but as participants in the “Heroic” stage of “the first century of the Bahá’í era.”10 Because of this tendency to synthesize or conflate the two religions into one,11 Bahá’í authors often ignore or distort Babi concepts and conduct which are at odds with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh or the practice of the modern Bahá’í community. One example of this problem is the treatment of the Bab’s doctrine of Holy War or jihad and the Babi involvement in armed conflicts with civilians and state troops in Persia (Iran) between the years 1848 and 1850.

Holy War and the Babi Uprising at Shaykh Tabarsi

The Bahá’í attitude towards Holy War, whether offensive or defensive, is best summed up by Bahá’u’lláh’s son, Abdu’l-Bahá, who attributed this declaration to his father:”…that the promulgation of the truth by such means [the sword] must on no account be allowed, even for the purposes of self-defense. He abrogated the rule of the sword and annulled the ordinance of ‘Holy War.'”12 This stands in contrast to the writings of the Bab which outline in some detail the waging of Holy War in order to promulgate the cause of his religion and which, toward the end of his life, took on a very hostile tone towards anyone who would not recognize his messianic claims .13 This incongruity on the part of the “Co Founders” of the Bahá’í religion14 has caused apologists considerable difficulty in relating modern Bahá’í beliefs to the writings of the Bab on the subject of Holy War, as well as providing their readers with objective accounts of the violent clashes involving the Babis and government soldiers.

In their book The Bahá’í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion, Bahá’í authors William Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin display this tendency to redefine the Bab’s concept of Holy War and to minimize the role of armed conflict in advancing his religious claims. In spite of the fact that their book is promoted as “the most balanced and detailed examination of Bahá’í belief to date” and as a textbook for undergraduate studies,15 their treatment of Babism demonstrates that the authors have not supplied the reader with any original research on the subject, but are essentially paraphrasing traditional Bahá’í histories.16

Concerning the Bab and Holy War, Hatcher and Martin write:

Raised in this Muslim value system, the Babis felt fully justified in defending themselves and their families against the attacks of the mullas. Some may have expected the Bab would reveal his own doctrine of jihad. If so, they were disappointed. In the Qayyumu’l-Asma the Bab reviewed in detail the basic principles of the Quranic concept of jihad and called upon his followers to observe this governing order of the society in which they lived. Attacks on Muslims, as one of the peoples of the book, were therefore prohibited to them.17

In this brief quotation Hatcher and Martin state that the Bab did not develop his own unique doctrine of jihad and infer that Babis only resorted to defending themselves in the context of unprovoked religious persecution. While it is true that the Bab’s treatment of Holy War in the Qayyumu’l-Asma reflects an orthodox Islamic understanding of the doctrine, it should be noted that this was the Bab’s first major work.18 He did, in later works, abrogate Islamic law and expound his own doctrine of jihad , which allowed the waging of Holy War on any non-Babi. Denis MacEoin explains:

….the Haykal al-din , [is] an extremely late work which effectively represents the Bab’s final thoughts on these matters… Jihad it would seem, could be waged against any group who did not believe in the Bayan [the Bab’s crowning revelation]; the questions of unbelief, Islam, faith, dissidence, and so forth no longer apply here since the entire non-Babi world is now the “realm of unbelief.” In the Haykal al-din , the Babi monarch of the future is exhorted “not to leave upon the earth, if possible, anyone save the Babis,” while in the Dala’il-i saba , written in Maku, the Bab states with regard to the Jews and Christians that “unless a powerful king shall cause them to enter the faith of God, there shall be no way for their salvation.” The Shi’i population of Iran was now regarded as subject to the decree of holy war…We see, then, that the Bab had, by the end of his short life, moved beyond even the harshest Islamic measures against unbelievers.19

Hatcher and Martin seek to minimize the presence of the jihad doctrine within the Bab’s writings, concluding their discussion of the subject by stating that, “When the Bayan … was subsequently revealed, no jihad doctrine was included.”20 While the Bayan does not treat the doctrine in detail, there are a number of passages which assume that Holy War will be fought.21 In fact, Abdu’l-Bahá recognized that “‘the decree of the Bayan was the striking of necks, the burning of books and papers, the destruction of shrines, and the universal slaughter of all save those who believed and were faithful.'”22 Bahá’í sociologist Peter Smith affirms that, “…the Bab detailed [in the Bayan ] specific Babi forms of ritual prayer (salat), pilgrimage (hajj ), and holy war (jihad ).”23 Hatcher and Martin’s distorted picture of the Babi notion of jihad sets the stage for their account of the clash between an armed Babi force and government troops during 1848 and 1849, at the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi.

By playing down Babi militancy on one hand and, on the other hand, describing a “period of political upheaval” in which members of the Muslim clergy were free to incite persecution against the Babis, they prepare the reader for their version of the siege at Shaykh Tabarsi.24 But, before considering their account in detail, it would be helpful at this point to outline some basic, non-controversial facts.

On July 21, 1848, a group of about 300 Babis under the leadership of Mulla Husayn Bushrui left the Persian province of Khurasan and headed west into the province of Mazandaran. On the outskirts of the town of Barfurush, the Babis were attacked by a mob, with several Babis being killed or wounded. The Babis responded to the attack and killed over one hundred of the townspeople. The Babi force continued their march through the forests of Mazandaran until they reached the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, where they immediately built fortifications and prepared for a siege. Within months, state troops were sent to subdue the Babis and several battles were fought over a period of about seven months, with the Babis inflicting heavy losses. After suffering many casualties by constant bombardment and skirmishes with the government army, and with supplies of food and water cut off, the Babis were forced to accept a truce which was immediately broken, resulting in the massacre or enslavement of all the Babi participants.

This was one of the most critical events in the brief history of the Babi movement, but because of Bahá’í emphasis on the unification of humankind and the promotion of world peace,25 it is not surprising that introductions to the faith by such modern Bahá’í writers as Esslemont, Faizi, and Gaver fail to even mention the incident at Shaykh Tabarsi.26 Other writers briefly refer to the event as an example of unprovoked persecution.27 Hatcher and Martin devote only two paragraphs to the event in their introduction, but their account is useful because it reflects popular Bahá’í notions concerning this and other instances of Babi militancy. Hatcher and Martin describe the incident in these words:

In the province of Mazindaran, a group of some three hundred Babis, under the leadership of Mulla Husayn and the Bab’s leading disciple, a young man named Quddus ( who had accompanied the Bab on his pilgrimage to Mecca ), found themselves besieged in a small fortress which they had hastily erected at the isolated shrine dedicated to a Muslim saint, Shaykh Tabarsi. They had enthusiastically swept through the province proclaiming that the promised Qaim had appeared, and called upon all who heard them to arise and follow…The siege at the fort turned, however, into an occasion of humiliation for the opponents of the Babis. Over the following year, one army after another, numbering finally thousands of men, was sent to overcome the few hundred defenders of the fort, and all in turn suffered decisive defeat. Eventually, the small garrison…was enticed to surrender under a solemn promise…However, no sooner did they leave the protection of the fortress than they were set upon by their besiegers.28

To the uniformed reader, this account would appear to represent a case of religious persecution. The authors would have us believe that the Babis were merely an enthusiastic group of evangelists, travelling throughout the countryside proclaiming the advent of the Bab as the the Promised One (Qa’im). It is also inferred that the Babis had not considered the possibility of a violent altercation and were surprised when attacked by a hostile force and “found themselves besieged in a small fortress which they had hastily erected…”29 This carefully worded recital paints a superficial and simplistic picture of an incident which can only be understood within the context of the messianic Shi’i Islam of 19th century Persia . A closer examination indicates that the Babi participants in the actions at Shaykh Tabarsi did not perceive themselves as peace-loving missionaries, being persecuted for their faith, but as actors in a grand eschatological drama, ushering in a new dispensation. Peter Smith explains:

At their [the Babis] centre was a large group of highly motivated clerics and theological students. For such men as these, schooled in the subtleties of Shaykhi esotericism and steeped in the Shi’i traditions of martyrdom and sacrifice, armed struggle appears to have assumed a complex symbolic role, beside the attainment of any more ‘realistic’ objectives. The ideal of the Imam Husayn’s struggle and martyrdom at Karbala provided a paradigm for their actions. Fighting a defensive jihad against the forces of unbelief, the defenders gave testimony to God’s truth, both by the dispatch of their opponents ‘to hell’ and by their own martyrdoms.30

As pointed out earlier, the Bab did develop his own doctrine of jihad, but it was certainly not one of his most prominent teachings. At this time there is no conclusive evidence that he gave his followers an explicit command to wage Holy War in Mazandaran and it is unlikely that such was the case. Throughout the Bab’s brief career, he had consistently taken a course of prudence and moderation, while some of his most influential disciples continued to move in a more radical and confrontational direction. However, by 1848 the Bab recognized the inevitability of the fitna or the final conflagration in which he and his followers would suffer martyrdom. His increasingly bitter attitude toward the State, his angry denunciations of the political and religious authorities, his explicit claims to Mahdihood, and his dire predictions of the events which would accompany the Day of Resurrection encouraged the mobilization of Babi forces in the province.31 The moment the Bab instructed Mulla Husayn to unfurl the Black Standard and move westward out of Khurasan, he made a messianic claim which challenged the legitimacy of both the religious and secular rulers of Persia and he gave his followers an unmistakable call to arms.32 In Shi’i tradition, the Black Standard is the symbol of the advent of the Imam Mahdi or the Guided One, who will lead his chosen ones in the final jihad before the Day of Judgment. At that time, the Imam Mahdi is to take control of all ecclesiastical authority and to call upon the secular rulers to assist him in ushering in a Golden Age which would witness the return of the Imam Husayn, Christ, and other Imams.33 There was no doubt in the mind of Mulla Husayn that this action would provoke a violent response. As the Babi force travelled toward Mazandaran, he spoke of their destination as “Karbala,” the site of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, and proclaimed, “I, together with my seventy-two companions, shall suffer death for the sake of the Well Beloved [the Bab]. Whoso is unable to renounce the world, let him now, at this very moment, depart, for later on he will be unable to escape.”34 Beyond making provocative claims, the Babi force was also armed which, according to the Bayan, was only lawful during jihad and at the Bab’s command.35 Faced with the presence of a large group of armed men approaching under the Black Standard, it is not surprising that the people of Mazandaran would react in a violent fashion.

After the initial clash with the people of Barfurush, the Babis did not withdraw or disband to avoid further bloodshed, but continued to the shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi, calling on people to join them under the banner of the Imam Mahdi.36 Months later, when hostilities with the Shah’s troops commenced, the Babi defenders fought heroically, attacking and routing one army after another with the shout “O Master of the Age.” But, contrary to the representations of Bahá’í writers, the Babis went beyond a purely defensive action, often attacking the royalist troops, sacking neighboring villages and committing numerous atrocities against both soldiers and non-combatants. At one point, the Babis severed the heads of their enemies and mounted them on poles around the fort.37 During the siege, Babi leaders continually cited Shi’i traditions concerning the coming of the Mahdi, infusing the fighters with the idea that they were participants in the final battle which would wipe unbelief off of the face of the earth and usher in the New Day.38 The Babis, at least one third of whom were religious leaders or theological students,39 certainly understood the significance of these eschatological references and they demonstrated by their actions during this episode that they were, in fact, engaged in Holy War.

In spite of the Bab’s relatively moderate behavior, the political and religious climate in Persia; the nature of his claims; and the radical ideals of some his leading disciples, set the Babis on an irreversible course to armed conflict and, as many of them surely understood, martyrdom for the Cause of God. Although the Bab did not call for a Holy War, the doctrinal confusion which permeated the Babi ranks coupled with the pervasive ideals of jihad and martyrdom were major factors in the events which culminated at Shaykh Tabarsi.

It seems clear that, in the case of jihad and Babi militancy, modern Bahá’í writers have sought to suppress or distort historical facts in an attempt to portray the Babi religion in a way which is more acceptable to the Western mind. Although we may see the Babis as misguided and perhaps even fanatical in their zeal for martyrdom, the Bab and his followers, in their time and place, were in fact, men and women who were alarmed by the material and moral corruption which had come to characterize Persia in the mid-nineteenth century. Devotion to their God and their determination to overcome the evil which surrounded them is a story of courage and dedication which is seldom told. But, as long as Bahá’í writers continue to view Babi history as the earliest stage of the Bahá’í revelation, rather than as a distinct religious movement, they will be unable to present an accurate historical account to their readers.

Revision, Censorship, and Suppression in Modern Bahá’í Literature

While Babi-Bahá’í history suffers a kind of distortion at the hands of Bahá’í authors which is rather subtle, a more direct approach is taken by the Bahá’í Administration and publishers, through revision of previously printed materials and by a review process of future publications. This ongoing policy of updating earlier writings and regulating works by Bahá’ís, whether for publication in Bahá’í organs or otherwise, is intended to preserve doctrinal purity and to “‘present a true picture of the Faith to the general public…'”40 Justification for such practices have generally centered on the need to correct minor errors and update statistics.41 Or, in the case of the review process, to ensure some standard of academic quality.42 However, the evidence suggests that the the primary concerns are the promotion of a consistent picture of Bahá’í history and dogma, the blotting out of references to failed predictions and promises, and the diversion of readers from differing or hostile points of view.

1. Posthumous Additions, Deletions, and Suppression in Popular Bahá’í Books

During the first half of this century, English speaking Bahá’ís who were interested in the history of the movement generally came to rely upon the works of E.G Browne because, not only were they scholarly, reasonably sympathetic, and the most accurate sources at that time, but because they were essentially the only English language sources available which treated the subject in any depth. Therefore, Browne’s works were cited quite frequently in a number of books by popular Bahá’í authors. But, as time passed, Browne’s materials began to be replaced by the hagiographical works, God Passes By and The Dawnbreakers; the former being a survey of the first hundred years of the movement by Shoghi Effendi, while The Dawnbreakers is a translation of an early history by Nabil Zarandi, a partisan of Bahá’u’lláh.43 Browne’s comments which cast the Bahá’í faith in a favorable light still appear in Bahá’í books, but his opinions on the origins and evolution of the faith have become quite unwelcome in recent years.44

Evidence of attempts on the part of Bahá’ís to divert readers from Browne’s contributions to Babi and Bahá’í history can be seen by comparing original and later editions of All Things Made Newby John Ferraby. Ferraby, who served as the National Secretary of the British Bahá’í community and who was appointed a “Hand of the Cause” in 1957, penned an introduction to the faith which was published that same year. The original edition contains a list of references, as well as a list of abbreviations of “Bahá’í Books Referred To.”45 Browne’s Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion and his translation of A Traveller’s Narrative , with notes, both appear in these lists, but have been removed from the 1987 edition, which was revised posthumously. Further, Browne’s writings are still included in the text of the book, but the references have been changed so that they no longer direct the reader to the primary source, but to Bahá’í books which contain the same quotations, as well material which is critical of Browne.46 Apparently, the editors wish to make use of the scholar’s favorable comments, but refer their readers to books which question Browne’s value as an authority on the subject and which may neutralize potential problems which could result from consultation of his more critical writings.47

Another case of suppression involves John E. Esslemont’s use of materials by the former Bahá’í historian Abdu’l-Husayn Ayati, named Avarih or Wanderer by Abdu’l-Bahá. Avarih was also a “Hand of the Cause” who was commissioned by Abdu’l-Bahá to write a history of the Bahá’í Faith in Persian, which was published in 1923 and 1924. After completing a missionary journey to Europe, Avarih lost faith in the Cause and was subsequently declared a Covenant-breaker by Shoghi Effendi.48 Covenant-breakers are those who have accepted Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of God, but have later apostatized and opposed Bahá’u’lláh, his successors, or Bahá’í institutions. Faithful members are instructed to shun entirely those who have rebelled against the Cause of God and, although not explicitly commanded, the reading of material written by Covenant-breakers is discouraged as well.49 In the original edition of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, Esslemont expressed his gratitude to Avarih for his assistance in the preparation of the book and referred to him as “the learned Persian historian of the Bahá’í movement.”50 In later editions, this acknowledgement has been removed from the preface without any notation.51 Avarih was quoted five times in the original edition to shed additional light on certain events. Two of these quotations were dropped completely from the text of the 1980 edition, but the other three were retained entirely. However, in one note, Avarih’s name has disappeared and there is no reference to any source.52 In another he is quoted, but his name has been substituted by the words “On this point a historian remarks.”53 And finally, Esslemont included an account of the marriage of Abdu’l-Bahá which was “kindly supplied to the writer by Janab-i-Avarih,” but the 1980 edition refers only to “a Persian historian of the Bahá’í Faith.”54

Actually, these are but a few of the many changes which were originally made in the 1937 revision of the Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era by “the American National Spiritual Assembly, acting under the advice and approval of Shoghi Effendi.” The preface to the 1937 edition states that the revision was necessary to correct “a few errors of fact,” to update Esslemont’s explanations of the stations of Abdu’l-Bahá and the Bab, and to remove his treatments of issues which are no longer relevant to the Faith. It is further stated that “these revisions in no respect alter the original plan of Dr. Esslemont’s book, nor effect the major portion of his text.”55 These assertions, however, are misleading. In fact, there have been over forty changes, some of which include entire sections or paragraphs totaling hundreds of words. And, some of the revisions do “alter the original plan of Dr. Esslemont’s book.” This is certainly the case in the removal of Esslemont’s eyewitness accounts of discourses by Abdu’l-Bahá.

Like many of the early Western believers, Esslemont was captivated by and completely devoted to his Master, Abdu’l-Bahá. After corresponding with him, Esslemont received an invitation to come to Haifa in 1919, where he spent over two months as his guest. During this period, the two discussed the manuscript of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era and “several valuable suggestions” were made.56 In the 1923 edition, Esslemont included a number of statements by Abdu’l-Bahá which he had personally heard and recorded. In spite of the value which these firsthand accounts contribute to our understanding of Abdu’l-Bahá and the perceptions of early believers, some of them have been removed from later editions without any notation.57 For example, on page 123, Abdu’l-Bahá advocated, in detail, a constitutional form of monarchy over a republican form of government as practiced in the United States. This was included in Esslemont’s chapter titled “True Civilization,” to illustrate the type of government which Bahá’u’lláh counseled nations to adopt until the next Manifestation of God appears. In later editions Esslemont’s words have been replaced with nearly three pages of new material speaking merely of the fact that there will be different types of governments during the “Lesser Peace” and the “Most Great Peace.” Although Abdu’l-Bahá was quite specific, these later accretions are vague and give no clear illustration of what type of rule Bahá’u’lláh would have nations adopt.58

Perhaps the most important change in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era was made on page 212 of the 1923 edition. Recorded as a Bahá’í prophecy59 concerning the “Coming of the Kingdom of God,” Esslemont cited Abdu’l-Bahá’s interpretation of the last two verses of the Book of Daniel from the Bible. He stated that the 1335 days spoken of by Daniel represented 1335 solar years from Muhammad’s flight to Medina in 622 A.D., which would equal 1957 A.D.. When asked “‘What shall we see at the end of the 1335 days?’,” Abdu’l-Bahá’s reply was: “‘Universal Peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Bahá’í Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established. It will be most glorious!'”60 In editions published after his death, Esslemont’s words have been changed to say that Abdu’l-Bahá “reckoned the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy from the date of the beginning of the Muhammadan era ”61 and one of Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets is quoted on the same subject in which he writes, “‘For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth….'” Esslemont appears to conclude that Abdu’l-Bahá was referring to the year 1963 and the one hundredth anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s public claim to be a Manifestation of God.62 These words, however, were never written by the author, but were added posthumously. And, it should be noted that the phrase “‘the dawn of the Sun of Truth'” is not a reference to a particular year, in this case 1863, but to a period of years when the Bab and his followers were preparing the way for the Manifestation of Bahá’u’lláh. Hence, they are commonly referred to as the “Dawn-Breakers.”63 Further, in another quotation which originally appeared on the same page, but was also removed from later editions, Abdu’l-Bahá plainly stated, “‘ This is the Century of the Sun of Truth. This is the Century of the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.'”64 Esslemont recorded Abdu’l-Bahá as declaring explicitly that the prophecy was to be computed from the Hijra or 622 A.D. and that specific conditions would exist in the world upon it’s fulfillment in 1957. When it became apparent that this Bahá’í prophecy would not be fulfilled, it was replaced with the ambiguous material which has remained in the text to the present. This is evident from the fact that, although Esslemont’s other eyewitness accounts were removed in the 1937 revision, the record of Abdu’l-Bahá’s prophecy was left intact by the American National Spiritual Assembly and Shoghi Effendi. It was not changed until after 1957.65 Also, Abdu’l-Bahá’s conviction that all of these events would take place in this century have been expressed in other writings and it is evident that Shoghi Effendi shared his optimism as well.66

Upon an examination of revisions in recent Bahá’í literature, it seems that the institution of the Guardian of the Cause of God has been the subject of the most widespread bowdlerization of texts. The office of the Guardian was first established by Abdu’l-Bahá in his Will and Testament. Shoghi Effendi, his eldest grandson, was named as the first in a succession of hereditary Guardians. The Guardian is the authoritative interpreter of the holy writings and the permanent head of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme administrative body which was referred to by Bahá’u’lláh in hisKitab-i-Aqdas. Through the Guardianship, the Cause of God is believed to be safeguarded from schism, because he is to be under the protection and infallible guidance of Bahá’u’lláh and the Bab.67 However, the Bahá’í world was thrown into confusion when Shoghi Effendi died suddenly on November 4, 1957. He had left no Will or instructions, and he had named no successor. Since all of Bahá’u’lláh’s living male descendents had been declared Covenant-breakers by Shoghi Effendi, the Hands of the Cause of God assumed authority over the entire Bahá’í community. The Hands were a group of leading Bahá’ís who had been chosen in accordance with Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and had been named “the Chief Stewards of Bahá’u’lláh’s embryonic World Commonwealth” by Shoghi Effendi, shortly before his death. The Hands of the Cause moved the community in a direction which culminated in the election of the Universal House of Justice. This was accomplished with surprisingly little opposition or schism.68

Changes in books written prior to 1957 indicate that the failure of what was to be a perpetual, divinely ordained and protected institution became a delicate subject with the Bahá’í Administration. But, it should be pointed out that, although there have been numerous revisions, there are still books which have not been changed at all. So, there does not appear to be a conspiracy or systematic program to eradicate the notion of a continuous Guardianship. However, the books which have been substantially reworked are popular introductions and histories, often used for propagating the Faith.

John Ferraby’s All Things Made New is second only to Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era in the number of textual changes. The original edition, first published in 1957, was dedicated “To Shoghi Effendi: The First Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.”69 In the 1987 edition the dedication is “To Shoghi Effendi: The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith,” implying that there was to be only one Guardian.70 Ferraby originally stated that, “Abdu’l-Bahá, in his turn, arranged that the Cause would still have a visible Centre after His passing, by providing for a succession of Guardians of the Cause of God to follow him.” He then included over two hundred words from Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will to explain the importance of the perpetual Guardianship and how successors are to be chosen.71 This entire section has been rewritten in later editions, stating that Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will only provided for “the possibility of a succession of Guardians…” And, the portions of Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will have been replaced with the statement,”Although there could have been a series of Guardians, there is nowhere in the writings any promise or guarantee that the line of Guardians would not be broken but would endure forever.”72

But, there were others who were also convinced that the institution of the Guardianship would continue. George Townshend, another Hand of the Cause, wrote that,”When it is written that ‘the government shall be upon his shoulder’ the reference can be to the Guardian only and the continuing ‘forever’ of his sovereignty can only be referred to the lineage of succeeding Guardians.”73 In later editions, Townshend’s interpretation of this passage from the Biblical book of Isaiah which he said could only apply to the Guardian has been changed to refer to “the devolution by Bahá’u’lláh of supreme authority upon his divinely guided institutions…”74 Shoghi Effendi’s wife Ruhiyyih Rabbani was convinced that her husband was the first in a line of Guardians. In a book which is no longer in print, she argued that: “The principle of successorship, endowed with the right of Divine interpretation, is the very hub of the Cause into which its Doctrines and Laws fit like the spokes of a wheel – tear out the hub and you have to throw the whole thing away.”75

Finally, it is important to consider Shoghi Effendi’s understanding of the nature of the Guardianship. He was probably more familiar with his grandfather’s Will than anyone and he is believed to have been endowed with divine inspiration to make authoritative interpretations of the Writings.76 The original edition of The Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi included numerous references to the institution of the Guardianship and its inspired origin, its perpetual nature, and its absolute centrality to the Covenant. This collection of his writings opened with a large extract from the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bahá which could best be summed up as an appeal to the believers to be “firm in the Covenant” and follow the divine guidance which can only be found in the Cause of God. In the 1975 edition most of the text of this appeal has been removed, except for two paragraphs which promised that the Twin Pillars of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice are under the guidance and protection of Bahá’u’lláh and the Bab. However, the phrase “…and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants” no longer appears at the end of the paragraph concerning the Guardian.77 Two complete pages have been removed from the original edition without notation, including this explicit statement:

Divorced from the institution of the Guardianship the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh would be mutilated and permanently deprived of that hereditary principle which, as Abdu’l-Bahá has written, has been invariably upheld by the Law of God. ‘In all Divine Dispensations,’ He states, in a Tablet addressed to a follower of the Faith in Persia, ‘the eldest son hath been given extraordinary distinctions. Even the station of prophet hood hath been his birthright.’ Without such an institution the integrity of the Faith would be imperilled, and the stability of the entire fabric would be gravely endangered.78

2. Literature Review

“The purpose of review is to ensure that minimal standards of accuracy, conformity with the Teachings, and dignity of presentation of the Faith are maintained in works that present the Bahá’í Faith to the public.” This is, according to the Research Office at the Bahá’í National Center in Wilmette, Illinois, the primary function of the review process. Review was established by Abdu’l-Bahá early in this century, at a time when the Bahá’í Faith was quite new and was spreading rapidly westward. It is considered to be necessary only until the time when the Faith is well known throughout the world and the danger of misrepresentation, whether innocently or intentionally, by individuals has past.79 Every Bahá’í must submit his or her work to a review committee if it is to be published and if the Bahá’í Faith is to be treated to any degree within the work.80

The main task of the reviewers is to ensure that the author, in stating his or her views, has not contradicted or misrepresented the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice. Another very important role which the review committee plays is to see that publications are “timely.” This means that manuscripts must not be passed if they contain information which “could give rise to serious problems for the Cause” or which could endanger the lives of Bahá’ís in repressive nations. Such is the case in modern Iran, where specific information could result in persecution or even death for faithful Bahá’ís.81

Although review is considered a necessity within the community, reviewers are to be concerned with the rights of individuals to express themselves freely and to engage in thoughtful dialogue and exchange of ideas. As manuscripts are reviewed, suggestions are made to the author to correct contradictions, misinterpretations, or speculations. After making the suggested changes, the work is passed for publication. In some cases, however, manuscripts may be completely rejected because they have major problems. Reviews may be appealed, but if a writer insists on publishing an article or book which has not been passed, he or she faces the possibility of excommunication or loss of administrative rights.82

Many of the concerns which have been addressed through the review process are very real indeed and it is based upon some practical and constructive principles. However, there is a danger that review can be used to stifle individuals or ideas which are perceived as threatening to traditional institutions. Or, it may be used to suppress works which challenge established assumptions concerning the Faith. It is precisely this negative potential inherent in the process which has been the focus of recent criticism, particularly from the academic community. Scholars within the Faith are faced with the momentous task of carrying on accurate and objective research, which may then be subjected to review by committee members who are not qualified to assess the true value and reliability of their work. And, any attempt to critique, reform, or discontinue literature review, may very well be suppressed through the very process which they seek to change.83

At least once in recent years, an historical manuscript has been subjected to censorship through review, lending credibility to the criticism of scholars in the field of Babi-Bahá’í history. In 1982, Kalimat Press published My Memories of Bahá’u’lláh,84 a translation of the memoirs of one of Bahá’u’lláh’s personal servants. The manuscript was reviewed before publication and it was decided that some of “‘the most harmful'” material should be removed from text.85When the book was finally published, a number of the required changes had not been made, so it was decided that future publications by Kalimat Press would be reviewed by Bahá’í authorities at the World Center in Haifa, Israel.86 This incident demonstrated that review not only has the potential, but has in at least one case, been used to paint a more favorable picture of Bahá’í history by suppressing “harmful” portions of an historical document.

Conclusion

Professor Browne’s observation that “the more the Bahá’í doctrine spreads…the more …the original Babi movement is obscured and distorted,” cannot be taken too literally, but it is quite certain from the foregoing examination that Bahá’í institutions and Bahá’í authors have continued to rewrite history up to the present time. Popular writers, such as Hatcher and Martin, have distorted the history of the movement by producing pious, inaccurate records which rely heavily upon orthodox works, while virtually ignoring important research by both Bahá’í and non-Bahá’í scholars. Through the questionable practice of revising previously published books, the views of deceased authors have been corrected and brought into conformity with modern perceptions and dogma. And, through the process of literature review, future publications will be regulated and kept within the boundaries of orthodoxy. There is not sufficient reason to conclude that there is a well orchestrated conspiracy on the part of the Bahá’í Administration, in which these three practices are coordinated to completely overhaul the history of the movement. But, it is safe to conclude that, since the Bahá’í Faith began spreading westward at the turn of the century, there has been a tendency on the part of Bahá’í individuals and institutions to distort or suppress historical data. And, unless Bahá’ís are granted more freedom in expressing their views and more pressure is placed upon the Bahá’í Administration through the research, concern and efforts of those outside the Faith, there is no reason to believe that this ongoing revision and rewriting will cease in the near future .


Appendix

The tables below represent a survey of some of the major changes made in selected books, between their original publication and later editions, which were written by Bahá’í authors during the 20th century. A major change is considered to be a revision which reflects a change in Western Bahá’í doctrine, practice or attitude toward a particular subject since the early 1900’s. It should be noted however, that there have been literally hundreds of changes made in the few books examined to date.
Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era by John E. Esslemont

Edition and Page Number Synopsis
1923 / 1980
8 / xiv Esslemont expressed his gratitude to the Bahá’í historian, Avarih, who later left the faith and was declared a Covenant-breaker. This reference was completely removed.
13 / 14 “Miracles” were discussed which were intended to show how civilization has advanced since the nineteenth century. Some of these “miracles” have reversed and worsened since 1923. They have been edited from the text.
22 / 13 The apostate Avarih was quoted, but his name has been replaced by “a historian.”
28 / 20 In the original, Esslemont’s remarks seem to indicate that the Bab was merely a forerunner to Bahá’u’lláh, a view which was quite common at the beginning of this century. Later editions reflect the current notion of the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh being the “Co-founders of their Faith.”
34 / 26 Avarih’s material was dropped completely.
39 / 33 A quote of Avarih is left in the text, but his name was removed.
55-6 / 53-4 Avarih provided a lengthy description of the marriage of Abdu’l-Bahá, which remains in later editions with Avarih’s name removed.
67-9 / 67-9 This is a very important change. Esslemont spoke of the unique station of Abdu’l-Bahá and stated that “whatever Abdu’l-Bahá says or does is to be accepted as of equal authority with the direct utterance of the Manifestation.” Further, he quoted Abdu’l-Bahá to the effect that the Bab was “the ‘Promised Christ.'” Two pages have been completely reworked. The institution of the Guardianship was introduced and the views which Esslemont originally expressed are referred to as “naive enthusiasm.”
118 / 130 Bahá’u’lláh provided that Abdu’l-Bahá would be the sole interpreter of his writings and after him the International House of Justice, but this has been changed to “the authorized interpreter.” The institution of the Guardianship was added in the 1937 edition (pg. 160) and it was clearly stated that there would be “successive Guardians.” However, this section was changed again in the 1970 revision and refers only to Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian, with no mention of succession.
123-4 / 135-7 Esslemont was present when Abdu’l-Bahá specifically advocated a form of constitutional monarchy under the heading “True Civilization.” This quotation has been dropped and replaced with two pages of general material which merely says that there will be different types of government under the Lesser Peace and the Most Great Peace.
146 / 165-6 Emphasis on the use of Esperanto as the universal language is played down in later editions.
157-8 / 179-9 A detailed two page account of Spiritual Assemblies in Persia by Jinab-i-Assad’llah Fadil Mazindarani has been replaced by an updated description of functions.
161 / 186 Nineteen Day Feast was added.
190 / 218 The establishment of the League of Nations and reduction in armaments were cited as “advances in fulfillment” of prophecies of world peace. This statement has been removed.
203-4 / 235-7 Esslemont claimed that Bahá’u’lláh’s words have a “creative power” and he cited a number of specific advances as proof. He claimed that world temperance was advancing, military dictatorships had fallen and will not be revived, democracy was spreading, Esperanto was gaining worldwide acceptance as a universal language, and the “emancipation of the workers” was “steady and irresistible.” This has been rewritten in a more general fashion.
209-10 / 244-7 Under the heading of “Social Troubles After the War,” Esslemont gave an eyewitness account of some specific predictions by Abdu’l-Bahá, which did not take place. This section has been replaced by nearly three pages of general information summing up Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamation.
211-12 / 249-50 Abdu’l-Bahá was quoted, asserting that the Kingdom of God would be established in this century along with world peace and a universal language, specifically by 1957. This section has been replaced with material by Abdu’l-Bahá which speaks generally of the effect of the Bahá’í Faith on the world. It has been made to appear as if Esslemont was referring to the progress of the movement at the one hundredth anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration, or 1963. It is important to note that this change was not made in the major revision in 1937, but in the 1970 revision, after the events predicted did not take place.
215-6 / 253-4 Avarih’s estimates of the number of Bahá’ís worldwide have been replaced. It is interesting to note that it was the issue of dishonesty in the Bahá’í administration over the numerical success of the movement, which Avarih cited as his reason for leaving the faith.
228-9 / 287 Esslemont supplied a bibliography for further study which included books from a variety of authors, including Edward G. Browne. In the 1937 edition it was removed completely, but a new list of references is included at the end of later editions. Although, Browne’s material remains in the text, his work is missing from the latest bibliography.

All Things Made New by John Ferraby

Edition and Page Number Synopsis
1957 / 1987
5 / 7 Ferraby dedicated his book to “The First Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith.” In the later edition, Ferraby’s dedication is to “The Guardian.” This is the first of many changes concerning the perpetuity and indispensable nature of the Guardianship.
27-8 / 27-8 Ferraby originally stated that the Guardianship was to be perpetual, but this section has been reworked, explaining that another Guardian could not be appointed since none were qualified. All references to the duties of the Guardian were in the present tense, but have been changed to the past tense, indicating that the Guardianship has ceased.
64 / 67 Islam was said to be declining in influence and power in the world and that this trend will continue. Because of events in the Middle East during the past two decades, this section has been rewritten, shifting the emphasis to a decline in Islam’s spirituality and reputation in the world.
246-7 / 252-3 In the original edition, Ferraby quoted the Will of Abdu’l-Bahá and demonstrated that the Cause would continue to have a visible Centre through the institution of successive Guardians. He referred to this as “a Covenant so mighty that mankind has never seen its like.” However, this section has been completely rewritten, stating that the Will only provided for the “possibility” for a succession of Guardians and that the writings nowhere “promise or guarantee” that the institution would continue. The Universal House of Justice is now presented as the “visible centre.”
250-5 / 256-61 The Will of Abdu’l-Bahá and the Covenant were discussed. References to the Guardian have been replaced or amended with “the Universal House of Justice.”
256-62 / 262-72 This section has undergone major revision with the addition of hundreds of words. References to the Guardianship have been changed to the past tense or have been replaced with “the Universal House of Justice.”
272-4 / 288-90 Ferraby extolled the virtues of the Bahá’í Administrative Order and cited evidences of its superiority over concepts of authority in Christianity and Islam. Because of the unexpected death of Shoghi Effendi, this information was modified to a great extent, with the notion of the hereditary Guardianship being played down.
279 / 295 Bahá’í burial customs were discussed and Ferraby’s statement that “Cremation is forbidden, because the too sudden disintegration of the body may harm the departed soul” has been replaced with a statement by Abdu’l-Bahá.
308-12 / 326-31 A number of books have been dropped from Ferraby’s bibliography, including those written by Edward G. Browne. References to Browne’s works still appear in the text of later editions, but the notes refer the reader to books by other Bahá’í authors who also quote Browne. Two of the Bahá’í books referred to also contain material which is critical of Browne, so these revisions were apparently made to divert the reader from the primary sources, which contain material that is at variance with orthodox versions of the history of the movement.

Christ and Bahá’u’lláh by George Townshend

 

Edition and Page Number Synopsis
1957 / 1985
79 / 79 Townshend originally referred to Shoghi Effendi as the “first and present Guardian,” but this phrase has been dropped.
98-9 / 98-9 Townshend discussed the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Bahá and the provision for a succession of Guardians. The succession principle has been dropped and Shoghi Effendi is no longer spoken of as “the first Guardian.”
100-1 / 100-1 This section dealt with “the lineage of succeeding Guardians,” but it has been changed so it appears that Townshend is writing about “divinely guided institutions” in general.

Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi by Shoghi Effendi

Edition and Page Number Synopsis
1942 / 1975
3 – 5 / vii The original edition began with nearly three pages of excerpts from Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament, in which he commanded his followers to “turn unto Shoghi Effendi….” This has been reduced in the 1975 edition to two paragraphs with statements concerning hereditary succession of the Guardianship and the role of the Guardian as the Head of the Universal House of Justice replaced with ellipses.
10 / 4 Two paragraphs have been removed, one of which deals mainly with outdated statistics concerning the growth of the Faith. The other is an assertion by Shoghi Effendi that he was “appointed as First Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith and Head of the Universal House of Justice….”
27-8 / 19 A paragraph has been removed which described the Administrative Order as “the framework of the Will [of Abdu’l-Bahá] itself, the inviolable stronghold….”
43-5 / 32 Two full pages have been removed, which formed an apologetic for the functions, the centrality, and the absolutely essential position of the Guardianship in Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order.

 


Footnotes

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  1. Edward G. Browne, trans., A Traveller’s Narrative Written to Illustrate the Episode of the Bab (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1891) x-xi. []
  2. Edward G. Browne, ed., Kitab-i Nuqtatu’l-Kaf being the Earliest History of the Babis compiled by Hajji Mirza Jani of Kashan between the years A.D. 1850 and 1852, edited from the unique Paris ms. suppl. Persan 1071 (London: Luzac and Co., 1910) xxxv. []
  3. Edward G. Browne, Materials for the Study of the Babi Religion, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1961) xxii-xxiv. []
  4. William M. Miller, The Bahá’í Faith: Its History and Teachings, 2nd ed. (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1984); Samuel G. Wilson, Bahai’sm and Its Claims: A Study of the Religion Promulgated by Bahá’u’lláh and Abdu’l-Bahá (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company,1915). []
  5. Denis MacEoin, “From Babism to Bahá’ísm: Problems of Militancy, Quietism, and Conflation in the Construction of a Religion,” Religion 13 (1983). In response to MacEoin’s views on this issue see, Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher,”Note on MacEoin’s ‘Bahá’í Fundamentalism,'” Religion 16 (1986) 187-92 and The Bahá’í Faith and Its Critics, unpublished manuscript. Bahá’í scholar Stephen Lambden has referred to Afnan and Hatcher’s works as “interesting though academically inadequate responses” in his article “Some Thoughts on the Establishment of a Permanent Bahá’í Studies Center and Research Institute,” dialogue vol. II, no. 2/3 (1988) 34. []
  6. Hasan M. Balyuzi, Edward Granville Browne and the Bahá’í Faith (Oxford: George Ronald , 1970); William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith:The Emerging Global Religion (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985) 207-11; Douglas Martin, “The Missionary as Historian: William Miller and the Bahá’í Faith,” World Order Volume 10, Number 3 (1976) 46-8. []
  7. For an appreciation of the issues, the obstacles and the scope of this problem see, Hasan M. Balyuzi, Edward Granville Browne ; Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850 (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1989) 422-40; Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá’í Religions: From Messianic Shi’ism to a World Religion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987) 225-9; Dennis MacEoin, “Bahá’ísm”, A Handbook of Living Religions edited by John R. Hinnells, (New York: Viking, 1984) 476-8 & 483-5; Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism and the Academic Study of the Babi Movement,” Religion 16 (1986), 59, 60. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 207-11; Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, “Western Islamic Scholarship and Bahá’í Origins,” Religion 15 (1985) 29 & 30; Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, “Note on MacEoin’s ‘Bahá’í Fundamentalism'” Religion 16 (1986) 191; Denis MacEoin, “Afnan, Hatcher and an Old Bone,” Religion 16 (1986) 195. []
  8. Many of these books and articles have been cited throughout this paper. Mention should also be made of the commendable efforts of dialogue magazine and Kalimat Press of Los Angeles to encourage sound Bahá’í scholarship. []
  9. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,1980) 20; Jessyca R. Gaver, The Bahá’í Faith (New York: Award Books, 1967) 49-50; H.M. Balyuzi, The Bab:The Herald of the Day of Days (Oxford: George Ronald, 1973) 191; John Ferraby, All Things Made New, 2nd. rev. ed. (London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1987) 20; Phillip Smith, “What Was A Bahá’í? Concerns of British Bahá’ís, 1900-1920,” ed. Moojan Momen , Studies In the Babi and Bahá’í Religions: Studies in Honor of the Late Hasan M. Balyuzi (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1988) 224-5 & 228. []
  10. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, 5th ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1965) xiii-xiv; Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 414-5; Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá’í Religions 115. []
  11. Denis MacEoin, “Babism to Bahá’ísm”. []
  12. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 170. []
  13. Denis MacEoin, “The Babi Concept of Holy War”, Religion 12 (1982) 101-9; Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent: Socioreligious Thought in Qajar Iran (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1982) 94-7; Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 377-83. []
  14. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era 20. []
  15. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith dust jacket notes and Preface. []
  16. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 7 & 8. []
  17. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 13. See also, Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, “Western Islamic Scholarship” 40-1. []
  18. Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 172-3; John Ferraby, All Things Made New 202-3. []
  19. Denis MacEoin, “Holy War” 107-9; See also Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 377-83. []
  20. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 13, 14. []
  21. Denis MacEoin, “Holy War” 107-8. []
  22. Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 72. []
  23. Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá’í Religions 34. []
  24. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 15. []
  25. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, 3rd. rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980) v-vii. []
  26. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era; Gloria Faizi, The Bahá’í Faith: An Introduction, 4th ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1978); Jessyca R. Gaver, The Bahá’í Faith. []
  27. George Townshend, Christ and Bahá’u’lláh, 7th rev. ed. (Oxford: George Ronald, 1985) 66. []
  28. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 16. []
  29. William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 16. []
  30. Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá’í Religions 26-7. Although Smith maintains that jihad and martyrdom play a crucial role in the Babi actions at Shaykh Tabarsi, he is not convinced that the incident was part of a highly organized insurrection. Rather, “Babi radicalism and militancy” were “part of a developing and interactive process.” See, Peter Smith and Moojan Momen, “The Babi Movement: A Resource Mobilization Perspective,” Studies in Babi and Bahá’í History:In Iran (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1986) 43-7 & 79-82; Peter Smith, “Millennialism in the Babi and Bahá’í Religions,” ed. Roy Wallis, Millennialism and Charisma (Belfast: The Queen’s University, 1982) 244 & 246. []
  31. Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 379; See also, Denis MacEoin, “Holy War” 114; Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent 96-98; Moojan Momen, “The Social Basis of the Babi Upheavals in Iran (1848-53): A Preliminary Analysis,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 15 (1983) 160; Edward G. Browne, trans., The Tarikh-i-Jadid or New History of Mirza Ali Muhammad The Bab by Mirza Huseyn of Hamadan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1893) 43. []
  32. Moojan Momen, “Babi Upheavals” 157,160 & 161; Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, trans. Shoghi Effendi, 2nd. British ed. (London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1975) 235-7; H.M. Balyuzi, The Bab 171, 172 & 176; Denis MacEoin, “Holy War” 114. []
  33. Moojan Momen, An Introduction to Shi’i Islam (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985) 166-71; Peter Smith, “Millennialism” 242-43. []
  34. Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers 237; See also, Edward G. Browne, The Tarikh-i-Jadid 44, 46-8, 55. []
  35. Samuel G. Wilson, “The Bayan of the Bab,” Princeton Theological Revue, vol. 13 (1915) 653; Edward G. Browne, Selections From the Writings of E. G. Browne on the Babi and Bahá’í Religions, ed. Moojan Momen (Oxford: George Ronald, 1987) 388; Edward G. Browne , Kitab-i Nuqtatu’l-Kaf LVI; Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 70. []
  36. Denis MacEoin, “Holy War” 116. []
  37. Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 79; Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent 120; Edward G. Browne, The Tarikh-i-Jadid 66-74. []
  38. Mangol Bayat, Mysticism and Dissent 119; Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers 255-57 & 273. []
  39. Moojan Momen, “Babi Upheavals” 161-66; Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 358-9. []
  40. Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 62. []
  41. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era vii, xi. []
  42. Muhammad Afnan and William S. Hatcher, “Note” 191. []
  43. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By; Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers. []
  44. Hasan M. Balyuzi, Edward Granville Browne ; William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin, The Bahá’í Faith 207-11; Douglas Martin, “The Missionary as Historian” 46-8. []
  45. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1957) 308-9, 312. []
  46. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 326-8, 331. []
  47. John Esslemont, who was also appointed a “Hand of the Cause” after his death in 1925, included a bibliography in the original edition of Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era , for “students who wish to make a further study.” A Traveller’s Narrative is included in this bibliography, which was removed completely in the 1937 edition. A list of “Basic References” appears in the 1980 edition, replacing the original bibliography, and Browne’s work is no longer included, although his material still appears as part of the text. See, John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 1st rev. ed., (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1937); John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 14, 39, 40, 117, 118 & 287. []
  48. William M. Miller, The Bahá’í Faith 218, 275, 289-90; Abbas Amanat, Resurrection and Renewal 438; Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Twenty-Five Years of the Guardianship (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1948) 21; As a possible reference see, Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By 327. []
  49. National Teaching Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, The Covenant: Its Meaning and Origin and Our Attitude Toward It (Wilmette: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, 1988) 71-73. []
  50. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 8. []
  51. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1937) viii; John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) xiv. []
  52. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 33. []
  53. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 13. []
  54. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 53. []
  55. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1937) v-vi. []
  56. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 7, 8; Wendi Momen, ed., A Basic Bahá’í Dictionary (Oxford: George Ronald,1989) 81. []
  57. The reason which is often given for the removal of these eyewitness accounts is that they are derived from “pilgrim’s notes” or the personal journals of early converts and are not considered to be authoritative. However, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era has never been considered to be an authoritative history, but only Esslemont’s personal understanding of the Bahá’í Faith. Therefore, his reminiscences are valuable for the light which they shed on the first Western believer’s thoughts of their Master and his teachings. Although most of these references have been removed, there are still a number of excerpts from pilgrim’s notes which remain in later editions. []
  58. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 123-4; John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1937) 167-70; John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 135-7. In another section, Abdu’l-Bahá discussed post-war social problems such as nationalism, labor troubles, and the probability of future wars. Again, his specific treatment of issues was replaced by pages of general material which add nothing to Esslemont’s thesis. See, John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 209-11; John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1937) 297-301; John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 244-8. []
  59. The title of the chapter is “Prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh and Abdu’l-Bahá.” John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 202. []
  60. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 212; This revision was first brought to light by, Francis J. Beckwith, Bahá’í (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1985) 37-9. []
  61. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 249. []
  62. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) 250. []
  63. Wendi Momen, A Basic Bahá’í Dictionary 64. []
  64. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1923) 212. []
  65. John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1937) 301-3; John E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (1980) xi. []
  66. Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come 121; Shoghi Effendi, rev. ed., The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1955) 39; Phillip Smith, “What Was A Bahá’í?” 239. []
  67. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh 147-52; Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá’í Religions 115-6; Wendi Momen, A Basic Bahá’í Dictionary 92-3. []
  68. Peter Smith, The Babi and Bahá’í Religions 128-32; Wendi Momen, A Basic Bahá’í Dictionary 96; Dennis MacEoin, “Bahá’ísm” 483. The only real challenge to the actions by the Hands of the Cause came from Mason Remey, himself a Hand of the Cause. He claimed to be the second Guardian by virtue of his appointment as president of the International Bahá’í Council by Shoghi Effendi. For further information on Remey and his claims see, William M. Miller, The Bahá’í Faith 310-22; Joel Bjorling, The Bahá’í Faith: A Historical Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1985) 134-39. []
  69. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1957) 5. []
  70. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 7. []
  71. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1957) 246-7. []
  72. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 252-3. []
  73. George Townshend, Christ and Bahá’u’lláh ( London: George Ronald, 1957) 100-1. []
  74. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (1987) 100-1 []
  75. Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Guardianship 23; For other remarks which reflect the perpetual nature of the Guardianship see, 4, 6, 24, 25 & 26. See also, Horace Holley, Present-Day Administration of the Bahá’í Faith (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1947) 2 & 3; H. M. Balyuzi, A Guide to the Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh, 2nd. ed. (London: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1947) 5-7. []
  76. Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Guardianship 23; Wendi Momen, A Basic Bahá’í Dictionary 92; Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh 149-50. []
  77. Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi: Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1942) 3-5; Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust,1975) vii. []
  78. Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings (1942) 43-4; Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings (1975) 32. []
  79. Review Procedure, unpublished information dated April 24, 1990 from the Research Office at the Bahá’í National Center Wilmette, IL: 2. []
  80. Denis MacEoin, “Old Bone,” 194. []
  81. Review Procedure 2. []
  82. Review Procedure 2; The Manuscript Ratings System, unpublished information dated April 24, 1990 from the Research Office at the Bahá’í National Center, Wilmette, IL: 1; Denis MacEoin, “Old Bone,”195. []
  83. Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 61 & 62 and “Old Bone,” 194-95. []
  84. Ustad Muhammad Ali Salmani, My Memories of Bahá’u’lláh, trans. Marzieh Gail (Los Angeles: Kalimat Press, 1982). []
  85. Letter of the Universal House of Justice to Mr. Juan Ricardo Cole, 2 December 1982, in Bahá’í Studies Bulletin 1:4 ( March, 1983) 89, cited in Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 62. []
  86. Letter of the Universal House of Justice to Kalimat Press, 2 December 1982, in Bahá’í Studies Bulletin 1:4 ( March, 1983) 89, cited in Denis MacEoin, “Bahá’í Fundamentalism” 62. []

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