There are now the incomparable translations by Shoghi Effendi from the Persian and Arabic, of the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá. These, together with his own considerable writings covering the history of the Faith, the statements and implications of its fundamental verities and the unfoldment of its Administrative Order, make the modern inquirer’s task infinitely easier than in Dr. Esslemont’s time.
One of the two great factions—Shí‘ih and Sunní—into which Islám fell soon after the death of Muḥammad. The Shí‘ihs claim that ‘Alí, the son-in-law of Muḥammad, was the first legitimate successor of the Prophet, and that only his descendants are the rightful caliphs.
On this point a historian remarks: “The belief of many people in the East, especially the believers in the Báb (now Bahá’ís) was this: that the Báb received no education, but that the Mullás, in order to lower Him in the eyes of the people, declared that such knowledge and wisdom as He possessed were accounted for by the education He had received. After deep search into the truth of this matter we have found evidence to show that in childhood for a short time He used to go to the house of Shaykh Muḥammad (also known as ‘Ábid) where He was taught to read and write in Persian. It was this to which the Báb referred when He wrote in the book of Bayán: ‘O Muḥammad, O my teacher! … ’
“The remarkable thing is this, however, that this Shaykh, who was His teacher, became a devoted disciple of his own pupil, and the uncle of the Báb who was like a father to him, whose name was Ḥájí Siyyid ‘Alí, also became a devout believer and was martyred as a Bábí.
“The understanding of these mysteries is given to seekers after truth, but we know this, that such education as the Báb received was but elementary, and that whatever signs of unusual greatness and knowledge appeared in Him were innate and from God.”
The Imám of the Shí‘ihs is the divinely ordained successor of the Prophet whom all the faithful must obey. Eleven persons successively held the office of Imám, the first being ‘Alí, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet. The majority of the Shí‘ihs hold that the twelfth Imám, called by them the Imám Mihdí, disappeared as a child into an underground passage in 329 A.H., and that in the fullness of time he will come forth, overthrow the infidels and inaugurate an era of blessedness.
In order to bury two of those who died, Bahá’u’lláh gave His own carpet to be sold for the expenses of their burial, but instead of using this money for that purpose the soldiers appropriated it, and thrust the bodies into a hole in the ground.—‘Abdu’l-Ḥusayn Ávárih Taftí.
When asked whether Bahá’u’lláh had made a special study of Western writings and founded His teachings in accordance with them ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá said that the books of Bahá’u’lláh, written and printed as long ago as the 1870’s, contained the ideals now so familiar to the West, although at that time these ideas had not been printed or thought of in the West.
I dreamed That stone by stone I reared a sacred fane, A temple, neither Pagod, Mosque nor Church, But loftier, simpler, always open-doored To every breath from heaven, and Truth and Peace And Love and Justice came and dwelt therein.” Akbar’s Dream, 1892
This Temple was completed in 1953. Since then other Bahá’í Temples have been constructed in Kampala, Uganda; Sydney, Australia; Frankfurt, Germany; Panama City, Panama; Apia, Western Samoa; and New Delhi, India. At the present time, 2006, plans are under way for a Temple in Santiago, Chile. (See Epilogue.)
The word “species” is used here to explain the distinction which has always existed between men and animals, despite outward appearances. It should not be read with its current specialized biological meaning.
“The lowest estimate places the present number of Babis in Persia at half a million. I am disposed to think, from conversations with persons well qualified to judge, that the total is nearer one million. They are to be found in every walk of life, from the ministers and nobles of the Court to the scavenger or the groom, not the least arena of their activity being the Mussulman priesthood itself.…
“If Babism continues to grow at its present rate of progression, a time may conceivably come when it will oust Mohammedanism from the field in Persia. This, I think, it would be unlikely to do, did it appear upon the ground under the flag of a hostile faith. But since its recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison whom it is attacking, there is greater reason to believe that it may ultimately prevail.” (Vol. i, pp. 449–503).
Of the Hands of the Cause appointed by Shoghi Effendi during his thirty-six-year ministry, twenty-seven were living at the time of his passing. He also instituted, in 1954, Auxiliary Boards to be appointed by the Hands and to be their deputies, assistants and advisors.
This section on the Administrative Order is taken from the article on The Present-Day Administration of the Bahá’í Faith by Horace Holley, published in 1933 in The Bahá’í World, Volume V, p. 191 et seq. Passages in this article quoting from Bahá’í writings have been replaced by newer translations where these are available.