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Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
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Pages 425-428

Letter of 30 November 1930

30 November 1930
He (the Guardian) is enclosing extracts from Lord Curzon’s “Persia and the Persian Question” giving a detailed and faithful description of the state of Persia in the middle of the 19th century. He thinks that references to the extracts … will be of great value in showing to the reader the contrast between the decadent state of the government and the people at that time and the heroism and nobility of character displayed by the early disciples of the Báb… Shoghi Effendi is also sending you … the Master’s words concerning the situation which led to the defensive action which the early disciples of the Báb were compelled to take in Mázindarán, Nayríz and Zanján. From these words it is evident that a systematic campaign of plunder and massacre had been initiated by the central government. Bahá’u’lláh, Who Himself was an active figure in those days and was regarded one of the leading exponents of the Faith of the Báb, states clearly His views in the Íqán that His conception of the sovereignty of the Promised Qá’im was purely a spiritual 426 one, and not a material or political one… His view of the sovereignty of the Qá’im confirms the various evidences given in the text of the narrative itself of the views held by those who actually participated in these events such as Hujjat, Quddús, Mullá Ḥusayn. The very fact that these disciples were ready and willing to emerge from the fort and return to their homes after receiving the assurance that they would be no more molested is itself an evidence that they were not contemplating any action against the authorities.
Shoghi Effendi is also sending you an account of the doctrines of Shí’ah Islám from which the Movement originally sprang. It will help you to connect the origin of the Movement with the tenets and beliefs held by the Shí’ahs of Persia. The Báb declared Himself at the beginning of His mission to be the “Báb” by which He meant to be the gate or forerunner of “Him Whom God will make manifest”, that is to say Bahá’u’lláh, Whose advent the Shí’ahs also expected in the person of “the return of Imám Ḥusayn”. The Sunnis also believe in a similar twofold manifestation, the first they call “the Mihdí”, the second “the Return of Christ”. By the term Báb, the Báb meant to be the forerunner of the second manifestation rather than, as some have maintained, the gate of the Qá’im. When He declared Himself to be the Báb, the people understood by the term that He was an intermediary between the absent Qá’im and His followers, though He Himself never meant to be such a person. All He claimed to be was that He was the Qá’im Himself and in addition to this station, that of the Báb, namely the gate or forerunner of “Him Whom God will make manifest”.
There are many authorised traditions from Muḥammad stating clearly (as explained in the Íqán) that the promised Qá’im would bring a new Book and new Laws. In other words abrogating the law of Islám.
Shoghi Effendi feels that the Unity of the Bahá’í revelation as one complete whole embracing the Faith of the Báb should be emphasised… The Faith of the Báb should not be divorced from that of Bahá’u’lláh. Though the teachings of the Bayán have been abrogated and superseded by the laws of Aqdas, yet due to the fact that the Báb considered Himself as the forerunner of Bahá’u’lláh we should regard His dispensation together with that of Bahá’u’lláh as forming one entity, the former being an 427 introductory to the advent of the latter. Just as the advent of John the Baptist—who according to various authorities was Himself the originator of laws which abrogated the teachings current among the Jews—forms part of the Christian revelation, the advent of the Báb likewise forms an integral part of the Bahá’í Faith. That is why Shoghi Effendi feels justified to call Nabíl’s narrative a narrative of the early days of the Bahá’í revelation.
Shoghi Effendi feels that it should be explained that forbidding self defence by Bahá’u’lláh should not be taken too literally. To put it as bluntly as this, he fears that the question might be misunderstood. Bahá’u’lláh could surely have not meant that a Bahá’í should not attempt to defend his life against any irresponsible assailant who might attack him for any purpose whatever, whether religious or not. Every reasonable person would feel under such circumstances justified in protecting his life….
Regarding Nabíl: He was born on the 18th day of the month of Safar of the year 1247 A. H. in the village of Zarand in Persia. He was thirteen years old when the Báb declared Himself. Though still young he himself was preparing to leave for Shaykh Tabarsí and join the companions of Mullá Ḥusayn when the news of the treachery and massacre of the besieged companions reached him. He met Bahá’u’lláh in Kirmansháh and Ṭihrán before the latter’s banishment to ‘Iráq. He was a close companion of the Báb’s amanuensis Mírzá Aḥmad. He subsequently met Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád, Adrianople and ‘Akká and was commissioned by Bahá’u’lláh to journey several times to Persia in order to promote the Cause and encourage the scattered and persecuted believers. He was present in ‘Akká when Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892 and soon after was so overcome with grief that he drowned himself in the sea. His body was found along the shore and was buried in the cemetery of ‘Akká. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is reported to have been struck with deep sorrow at the manner of his death. He states in his narration that he met the maternal uncle of the Báb, Ḥájí Mírzá Siyyid ‘Alí who had visited his nephew in the Castle of Chihríq and had recently returned to Ṭihrán. He started writing his narrative in 1305 A.H. four years before the passing of Bahá’u’lláh. It took him about a year and half to write it. His chief informants were Mírzá Aḥmad the amanuensis of the Báb and Mírzá Músá the brother of Bahá’u’lláh. 428 Parts of his narrative were read in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh and approved by Him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also went over sections of his narrative….
Shoghi Effendi has found in the papers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá a complete set of the Báb’s Tablets to the 18 Letters of the Living, all written in His own hand-writing and bearing His seal. In addition to these there are two other Tablets both written by Himself in exquisite hand-writing, the one addressed to the 19th Letter who was Himself and the other to “Him whom God will make manifest”, i.e. Bahá’u’lláh. This last one has three seals and is written on blue paper….
Regarding the question raised in your letter…. The Bahá’ís in Persia avoid political posts and positions, abstain from any interference in matters pertaining to the policy of the state, but fill the more important administrative posts that have no political character. They feel that in this manner they can best serve the interest of their country and prove by their action their integrity and attachment to Persia….
Shoghi Effendi is enclosing an extremely interesting account given by a certain Dr. Cormick, an English physician long resident in Tabríz of his meeting with the Báb. He is apparently the only Westerner who has met the Báb and recorded his impressions… Shoghi Effendi thinks of adding it to his notes.